Montgomery is a border market town in the Welsh Marches with a long and colourful history. The town takes its name from Roger de Montgomerie; a Norman knight and supporter of King William I (the Conqueror), granted the lands for his loyalty.
The town grew up around the base of the castle built high upon a crag – a vantage point controlling the Severn river crossing at Rhydwyman Ford and the Vale of Montgomery.
The town of Montgomery owes its existence to an important ford across the River Severn. This was guarded through the millennia by stone age and iron age forts. The Romans built an important garrison near it. Following the Norman invasion, William the Conqueror rewarded his kinsman Roger de Montgomerie for his loyalty with lands along the English-Welsh borders. Roger was told of the importance of the ford and built a motte and bailey (timber & earth) castle overlooking it. He named it after his home in northern France.
150 years later in the autumn of 1223 it was visited by King Henry III on his 16th birthday when he was shown a nearby craggy outcrop where it was decided to build a royal stone castle. As the new Castle grew, the town of Montgomery developed in the valley below and was awarded a Royal charter in 1227 – only the second in Wales after Monmouth. The ford known as Rhyd Chwima continued to be an important meeting place and was the site of the signing of the Anglo-Cambrian Treaty of Montgomery in September 1267 by which Llewellyn ap Gruffudd was acknowledged as Prince of Wales by King Henry III of England (1216-1272). It was the only time an English ruler recognized the right of a ruler of Gwynedd over Wales.
During the Civil War, in 1644 Lord Edward Herbert surrendered the castle to the Parliamentary forces resulting in the Battle of Montgomery which took place in September on the plain to the north of the town. It was decisively won by the Parliamentarians even though they were greatly outnumbered. In 1649 the castle was demolished by order of Cromwell. (Lord Richard Herbert who inherited it when his father Edward died was a fervent Royalist) The street layout of the town has changed little since it was founded. The mixture of early, well preserved timber framed cottages, Georgian and Victorian town houses give Montgomery its unique character. The whole town within the remains of the ancient walls is designated as an outstanding Conservation Area.
The ancient town of Montgomery (population 1,295) is situated a bare mile over the
welsh border from Shropshire and is 21 miles west of Shrewsbury by road.
Prior to the reforms in local government, which took Place in 1974, Montgomery was a Borough, with its own Borough Council and was the County Town of the then County of Montgomeryshire which stretched from the welsh border westwards to the coast. With the administrative changes the county became a District in the charge of Montgomery District Council at Welshpool, and the extensive County of Powys, embracing the old Counties of Montgomery, Radnor and Brecon, came into being, with its administer Centre at Llandrindod Wells.
The Borough, like all other Boroughs in the new County, ceased to exist and there is now a Town Council similar in status to the Parish and community councils of England.
Montgomery has, very properly been designated a Conservation Area. A Montgomery Civic Society exists with the object of helping preserve the character of the town and ensuring that any developments will be in keeping with it. A 16th century house known as “The Old Bell”, standing in Arthur Street, has been restored by the Society and established as a Museum and Exhibition Centre, in which the Towns historical heritage is displayed. It is open from Easter to Autumn at the times advertised at the Centre.
A number of plaques fixed throughout Montgomery, describing Montgomery’s history and some of its buildings, received a prince of wales Award in 1980.
A second award was received in 1984 for the Old Bell Museum.
From the long line of the Kerry Hills, which form the northern boundary of the high mass of Radnor and Clun Forests, a spur projects into the Severn Valley and terminates in an outcrop of ingenious rock upon which stands the ruins of the castle erected by Henry III. Below the hill nestles the Town against a background of woods, 550 feet above sea-level, it is protected from the prevailing winds by the hills immediately behind it, which rise to over 1 ,000 feet.
The Town in relation to the surrounding country can best be seen by those approaching it from Shrewsbury or, better still, from Welshpool. The visitor coming from Welshpool by the direct road through Forden should pause for a moment at the top of the steep hill a couple of miles from Town, and he / she will see at a glance its superb situation, which explains why Montgomery was, from the beginning of its history, of such great military importance.
The castle and Town lie directly in the way of the road from Shrewsbury, and whoever was in possession of them was master of the only effective road to Mid-Wales and the coast. The Town is a bare two miles from the river Severn and the historic ford of Rhydwhiman which was the traditional meeting place of Welsh and English and the scene of treaties and truces.
Montgomery commands the rich valley of the Camlad, the only stream running from England into Wales, stretching from the Kerry Hills to the Severn. It was this broad valley which, in mediaeval times, formed the bulk of the Honour, or Lordship of Montgomery and it was the castle of Montgomery on its western edge that protected it from the forays of the Welsh.
The former County of Montgomeryshire was throughout the Middle Ages under the control, first by the Welsh Princes of Powys, and later by the Marcher Lords.
It was not until 1536 that the remaining crown and Marcher Lands were erected into Counties by Henry VIII, who bestowed the name of the historic town of Montgomery upon the new County.
The Town Hall
Built in 1748 to replace an earlier Guildhall / Markethall and to house the county Assizes, it is the centre piece of the town, the Town Council’s meeting place, the location for a host of musical, theatrical and historical events, a wedding venue and home to the weekly Thursday market.
Montgomery, formerly the county town of the County of this name, celebrated it's 750th anniversary of the granting of its charter by Henry III. The original document no longer survives, but the town possesses Inspeximus (confirmatory), charters of Henry VIII Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles II The town was granted borough status by a Royal Charter of 1227.
Montgomery became the county town of the newly-created Montgomeryshire in 1536. It was governed by a Corporation, headed by two Capital Bailiffs known as the High Bailiff and the Low Bailiff, who presided over the Borough's Court of Record. The Old Corporation was abolished under the Municipal Corporations Act 1885, and was replaced with an elected Mayor and council, under a new Charter of Incorporation in 1885.
Rhydwhyman Ford and the Treaty of Montgomery
Rhydwhyman was of considerable strategic importance in the history of Wales as the point where the Severn could be most reliably forded. It became the traditional meeting place for Welsh and English and on September 29th 1267, King Henry III of England and Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Gwynedd, signed the Treaty of Montgomery at the Ford. For the first time an English ruler recognised the right of a Welsh prince to rule over Wales and the Treaty effectively created Wales as a separate country.
Information to follow....
Pictured above - Terry's son, Chris, carrying on the traddition.
In 1990 the monument was seriously damaged by an earth tremor. For the next 12 years the repair and refurbishment of the County War Memorial became the sole focus of attention for one man - Terry Boundy, who noted: - "The object must be to repair the County War Memorial and to hold in trust with Montgomery Town Council funds sufficient for this work to be carried out and leave a sufficient amount for the future care and upkeep of the Memorial." In addition, he required that proper direction signs were erected; an entry be made in the local Guide Book co-ordinated in addition with the details of Montgomery Castle so that each would enhance the other as an attraction for visitors. Additionally to ensure that the path for walkers remains open with arrangements for access for the disabled. This, simplistically put, was the task that Terry set for himself. The projected cost was to be just short of £143,000.00.
No one escaped from Terry in his quest for funds. Talks were given to sundry organizations; slide shows shown to schools; coffee mornings; donations etc. Ultimately more than 25% of the required total was raised by these means and then the icing on the cake came in September 2001 - an award from the Heritage Lottery Grant of £107,000.00. This equated to 75% of the total required. How easy it is to roll out these figures now. What they do not tell is of more than a decade of one man’s tireless campaign to achieve his goal. Much of it he did alone and only those closest to him could appreciate the amount of time, energy and dedication that he put in.
The culmination of all this effort and with it Terry’s finest hour, came on Saturday 5th October 2002 when on The Town Hill the newly re-furbished County War Memorial was re-dedicated by the late Rev. Dick Jones BEM, at that time County President and Chaplain to Montgomery County Royal British Legion. Fittingly, Terry was the man to unveil the new inscription and I was privileged to say the Exhortation. Terry then recited the Kohima Epitaph which meant so much to him. "When you go home tell them of us, and say; for your tomorrow we gave our today" The citation on the Memorial had been changed from the original to now read: - "To All Those People Of The County Of Montgomery Who Died For Their Country In All Wars". Those of us who were there on that day either walked or were transported by all manner of forms of transport. Mainly Land Rovers with trailers and hay carts pulled by tractors.
The proceedings were not helped by the presence of a bitterly cold and strong wind and it is to the eternal credit of Newtown Silver Band that despite having half of their music blown away they managed to provide the music for the Service. The proper arrangements for the future maintenance of the Memorial are in place and there are funds to be used as and when required. In a most generous gesture Terry’s son Chris has offered to keep a watchful eye on the Memorial and its surrounds and will arrange for a professional annual inspection.
Major Terry Boundy. MBE. BVSc. MRCVS. FR Ag S. 1920 ~ 2008.
Joined Montgomery Branch RBL in 1950. Held posts of President; Secretary and Treasurer for a number of years. Oversaw the redevelopment of The Memorial Garden on The Pound in 1998.
Every Friday at the weekly Communion Service in the Church he, with Arthur Tanner, use to turn a page of the County Book of Remembrance and recited the names on the relevant page.
Note: Both Terry and Arthur have since passed away
Directions: Follow the signs for Montgomery Castle. Opposite the Castle car park is a sign pointing the way to the memorial. The climb is steep but the effort is rewarded with beautiful in all directions.
The site of the memorial garden, located on the junction of Pool Road and the former Salop (now Chirbury) Road, has had a number of uses over the years.
It has been the site of a lock up for miscreants and also the site of the Town Pound, where any animals found roaming were placed securely until their owners came to collect them.
The original memorial garden for the town was laid out on the site of the Pound on the 6th of September 1953, and dedicated by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Reverend David Bartlett. The garden consisted of an area paved with concrete slabs, with raised beds and a memorial plaque and was the focus of the annual Remembrance Service each year, where, together with the traditional service and laying of the wreaths, the names of the fallen of the town from the two World Wars were read out. Further research indicates a weighbridge was once in use and managed by two women.
In 2012, the idea was mooted that the memorial garden should be renewed. Some of the concrete slabs supporting the raised beds had moved and were potentially unsafe, there was no memorial with all the names of the fallen visible in the town the whole area no longer looked like a memorial garden; and the original plaque was only visible on close inspection of the site. In addition, it was difficult to access for those with mobility issues, with steps to each level access was difficuilt. Local people were consulted about the idea of redeveloping the site and incorporating a memorial with the names of the fallen. Work began on how to proceed, and importantly, fund the project. The project was completed and it's development recorded. Montgomery Wales has developed a website dedicated to all the hard work from the local community and businesses which can be found here: Montgomery Remembers Website
Situated above the Town, the unmistakable and unforgettable Montgomery Castle lies.
The building of Montgomery Castle on a commanding hilltop position started in 1223. While much of the castle was destroyed following the Civil War, significant ruins remain, the site is managed by CADW.
The castle plays host to a number of activities throughout the year from Medieval Banquets to Shakespeare plays. Information on upcoming events can be found on the events calendar and social media pages linked throughout this site.
More information on the castle & histroy here: Montgomery Castle
Open: All year Round
Times: During daylight hours
Car Park Closes: Winter 4pm. Summer 9pm. Spring & Autumn 6pm
Lymore Park is a 17th century deer and landscape park, just a short stroll from the town car park, with ancient oak trees, sweet chestnuts, and an unusual 18th century decoy pond.
There is a good network of public footpaths and bridleways across the whole Estate - these are signed and mapped.
If not known to you please try to familiarise yourself with them. Footpaths are for pedestrians, bridleways for horse riders, pedal cyclists and pedestrians.
Lymore Drive is a bridleway over a private road which is for use (as signed) only by motor vehicles by those living at Lymore or visiting them, for shoot syndicate members and access to the cricket pitch.
Dog walkers are asked to keep their dogs out of the woods and on leads in any enclosure in which there is livestock (countryside code). When devoid of livestock dog walkers may utilise the fields either side of the Lower Pool but visitors are asked not to walk along the track to the top pool, among farm buildings or into woods.
Offa’s Dyke lies 1 mile from Montgomery. The Dyke is a great frontier earthwork built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D. It gives its name to a long-distance footpath, one of Britain’s National Trails, which runs from Sedbury, near Chepstow, through the landscapes of the Welsh Marches, to Prestatyn in North Wales. Guided walks to the Dyke are offered by Montgomery Walkers are Welcome by prior arrangement.
A Grade 1 listed building dating from 1226. The interior has a late 15th / 16th century roof and a medieval rood screen, misericords and choir stalls removed from Chirbury Priory on its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539.
A hand painted commemorative plate and a letter from the Prince of the Netherlands are displayed on either side of the Book of Remembrance as an expression of gratitude from the Dutch resistance and armed forces to veterans who helped to liberate the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies
Montgomery was originally a walled town with 4 gates. The town defences were partially excavated in 1995-7 with 20m of the foundation of a tower near Arthur’s Gate reconstructed and visible to visitors today.
The House of Correction and original County Gaol was built in 1735 and closed in 1830 when it was converted into a terrace of private houses
The ‘New’ Montgomeryshire County Gaol stood at the end of Old Gaol Road. Built 1830 -32 with a tall octagonal Governor’s House, four prison wings and a treadmill in the courtyard. The Gaol closed in 1878 and now only the Governor’s house, the gateway and a high wall of one cell block remain. It is now a private residence.
The plaque reads:
First County Gaol, Built about 1740, this building (now a terrace of three dwellings) was once County Gaol for Montgomeryshire.
Held in custody in 1803 were the following;
By the end of 1832 all male prisoners had been removed to the new gaol, and John Davies, the gaol keeper reported in his Order Book that "there now remains only one femail
The Robber's Grave in Montgomery or "the grave of the man unjustly hanged" has long been a legend of note connected with the town of Montgomery In.
1821, John Davies a plasterer from Wrexham was accused by William Jones from Welshpool of assault and robbery. Jones produced two witnesses (not to the robbery) and appealed to them to help him find his assailant and to finding his missing watch and money on Davies' person.
Davies was accordingly committed to the autumn sessions, where he pleaded 'not guilty' but was found guilty by the jury. At that time highway robbery was one of the many crimes punishable by death.
At the place of his execution, persons claimed to have heard John Davies declare his innocence and pray that God would not allow the grass to grow on his grave for a hundred years as a sign of his innocence. He was buried in a portion of the churchyard where there had been no previous burials.
The grave lies about 24ft west of the path from the north gate of the churchyard to the church tower, and about 30ft from the gate.
The Old Bell, a 16th century inn, has been converted into a local history museum by Montgomery Civic Society. Run by volunteers, it is the winner of a Prince of Wales Award. Eleven rooms house displays illustrating the long social and civic history of the ancient County Town of Montgomeryshire. There are permanent exhibitions relating to the medieval and Norman castles and their archaeological excavations with excellent scale models of both. Two rooms are devoted to the Workhouse and the Cambrian Railways. A small room in the museum has been restored to demonstrate the various methods of construction in this half timbered building. Situated in Arthur Street near to the Town Hall, the Old Bell is an independent museum and was officially awarded "Accreditation" status by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in February 2009, reaccredited in 2013 and again recently in 2016.
More information can be found by clicking here The Old Bell Museum
The Institute is an Arts and Crafts design building of 1924 situated on land sold by Robert Henry Bunner to the Borough of Montgomery. The site had previously been a half-timbered wheelwright’s house.
David Davies, 1st Baron Davies, was MP for Montgomeryshire 1906 - 1929 and was created the benefactor of the Montgomery Institute building.
It is now home to the library.
George Herbert the metaphysical poet, Anglican Divine and, briefly, MP for Montgomery was born at the Castle in1593. A friend of the celebrated poet John Donne who wrote the poem 'The Primrose, being at Montgomery Castle upon the Hill, on which it is situate' during a visit in 1613. Peter Warlock, pseudonym of Philip Heseltine (1894-1930), lived at Cefn Bryntalch Hall in nearby Llandyssil.
A proud Welshman he referred to Cefn Bryntalch as 'this heavenly place' and much of his music, influenced by Delius, was composed in the garden. Warlock was Choirmaster at the church in Llandyssil, where it is believed Delius also played the organ, and a notorious frequenter of Montgomery pubs.
Janos Arany was Hungary's foremost national poet. His 19th Century ballad, 'The Bards of Wales', tells of the slaughter of 500 Welsh poets at the hands of Edward 1 at Montgomery Castle. All Hungarian school children learn the allegorical ballad that reflects on King Edward's invasion of Wales to crush the Welsh rebels as an analogy to their own suffering at the hands of the Ottman and Austro-Hungarian empires.
The Welsh composer, Karl Jenkins, wrote a symphonic poem based on the Ballad which was premiered in Budapest. Arany was made a post-humus honorary Freeman of Montgomery in 2016 and this is commemorated by a plaque given to the town.