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Bro Trefaldwyn Historic Landscape

Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bro Trefaldwyn

Funerary, ecclesiastical and Legendary landscapes

Both Chirbury and Churchstoke were important early ecclesiastical centres. Mercian churches had evidently been established at Chirbury by the early 10th century, its name, first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle being Cyricbyrig, meaning 'the fort with a church'. The name of Churchstoke, first recorded in the Domesday Book, has the meaning 'church place'. At the time of the Norman Conquest much of the historic landscape area appears to have formed a large and dispersed ecclesiastical parish corresponding with the Domesday hundred of Witentreu with a mother church at Chirbury and a dependent church at Churchstoke. During the course of the middle ages further chapels dependent upon Chirbury were founded at Forden, Hyssington and Snead, possibly a dependent chapel within the bailey of 'old Montgomery' at Hen Domen. Land belonging to an old hermitage was given up by Chirbury priory in the 1220s to make way for the new stone castle at Montgomery.

A community of Augustinian canons had been established at Snead during the 12th century, but had transferred to found a priory at Chirbury by the late 12th century, associated with the parish church of St Michael's, in the diocese of Hereford. A new ecclesiastical parish was established at Montgomery in the early 13th century when the borough was founded below the new stone castle, subsequently becoming part of the Welsh diocese of St Asaph. The boundary between the English and Welsh dioceses were in dispute in the later 13th century, Bishop Swinfield of Hereford riding into the ford of Rhydwhiman in 1288 and declaring the Severn as far as Shrawardine, to the west of Shrewsbury, to be the boundary between the dioceses of Hereford and St Asaph. The former dependent churches and chapels at Forden, Hyssington and Snead became ecclesiastical parishes within the diocese of Hereford in their own right following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, Forden subsequently transferring to the diocese of St Asaph.

A monastic grange and mill belonging to Cwmhir Abbey had been established at Gwern-y-go by the middle of the 13th century. A medieval grange chapel was in existence here by the late 14th century, and continued in use as a chapel of ease known as 'Chapel Gwernygo' into the second half of the 16th century, parts of the monastic complex evidently still being visible in the 1890s. The precise location of the chapel is uncertain, but the field-names 'Chapel meadow' and 'Chapel close' in the Kerry tithe apportionment suggest that it lay to the north of the present farm.

An area of land at the south-east corner of the historic landscape area, in the parishes of Mainstone, Lydham and Churchstoke, were in the ownership of the bishops of Hereford in the middle ages, forming the manor of Bishop's Teirtref, 'Bishop's three townships'. The bishops of Hereford also gave their name to the Bishop's Moat motte and bailey castle probably built in the 12th or 13th century on the line of the Kerry Ridgeway to protect the holdings of the church, together with a second castle at the eastern lowland terminal of the ridgeway, at Bishop's Castle.

Nonconformist chapels in stone or brick were built throughout the area during the late 19th century. One of the chapels in Montgomery belongs to the Presbyterian Church, the remainder belonging to either the Wesleyan or Primitive Methodists, whose services within the area were held wholly or mainly in English. Some chapels were built in the larger nucleated settlements, at Montgomery, Forden, Churchstoke and Hyssington, whilst other such as at Old Church Stoke, Cwm, Cwm Cae were built at the hub of much smaller hamlets. Other chapels, such as Green Chapel, with a chapel house, were more isolated. The Methodist chapel of 1903 in Pool Road, Montgomery was built in conjunction with a school. Some of the chapels remain in use, though others, such as Montgomery Methodist chapel, and the chapels at Cwm and Cwm Cae have now been converted to other uses.

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