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Wigmore Timeline


The Celts were the indigenous population from the Iron Age. They were united by common language rather than culture. The shape and layout of the churchyard suggests that it is built on late Celtic foundations.

The Gundestrup Cauldron: Malene Thyssen; Wikimedia Commons License


The Roman presence in the area was focused on Leintwardine where a bath house complex served the forts and camps that were scattered over the surrounding area. This showed that as early as the Roman occupation Wigmore had great strategic importance. The outline of Wigmore’s Roman camp can be seen on Google Earth in a field just to the east of the village.

Roman Pottery, Ludlow Museum. CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons License. 



Saxons, Angles and Jutes and later Viking raiders, invaded from northern Europe after the Romans left and established a number of kingdoms, East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex that were eventually united. The term Marches is taken from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘mearc’ meaning boundary and this is also the root of the name ‘Mercia’. Some Anglo-Saxon nobles, fearing the Norman invasion, fled to Byzantium (Istanbul in modern Turkey), where they became part of the bodyguard to the emperor Alexios I.  They retired to special villages on the Sea of Azov called 'Londina' and Susaco' (Sussex) and other such anglicised names.  This was the medieval 'New England' or Nova Anglia.

Anglo-Saxon square headed fibula.  Walters Art Museum.  CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Creative Commons License. 


William FitzOsbern, William the Conqueror’s chief counsellor and castle builder, was the first to put a castle on the site but it was not until the Mortimers took possession that the castle and church were enlarged and enriched. The Mortimers became one of the most powerful families in the country and Roger Mortimer, 3rd Baron Mortimer, 1st Earl of March (25 April 1287 – 29 November 1330) was King of England for three years in all but name. The Mortimer influence lasted nearly four hundred years but continued to decline after the death of King Edward IV, 4th Duke of York, 7th Earl of March.  Edward's grandmother was a Mortimer and failing any other male Mortimers, he inherited all of the estates and titles.

For further detailed information on the Mortimes look at the excellent Mortimer History Society website and indeed join their estimable society. http://mortimerhistorysociety.org.uk/

Page and detail from the Domesday Book (1086) referencing Wigmore and Ralph de Mortimer. Creative Commons BY-SA licence by permission of Professor J.J.N. Palmer, University of Hull and George Slater.


The Wars of the Roses pitted families against each other. Wigmore, still then a powerful fortress, was the stronghold from which Edward, Duke of York, marched his forces to intercept the Lancastrians under Jasper Tudor at Mortimers Cross on February 2nd 1461. Edward was victor and became Edward IV.

Arms of Elizabeth of York – daughter of Edward IV – the Mortimer arms (blue and gold) can be seen in the lower right quadrant. By Sodacan - Own work CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons License.

Stuarts and Hanoverians

The English Civil War (1642 – 1651) saw the final ruination of Wigmore Castle. Lady Brilliana Harley, whose father had bought the castle from Elizabeth 1st, slighted it to prevent it falling into Royalist hands.  In 1732 Samuel and Nathaniel Buck published the definitive contemporary engraving showing the degree of ruination that the castle had reached by the 18th century.

An engraving of the south view of Wigmore Castle made some 90 years after its slighting.  J960079 ©Historic England Archive.


The Victorians did nothing to the castle save admire it but they sought to stop time’s ravages on the Church of St James.  In 1864 George Frederick Bodley (1827 – 1907) renovated the church, including building a new porch, building a pseudo-14th century chancel arch, laying encaustic tiles and mounting the 12th century font on a Victorian plinth.  More extensive plans did not materialise, so much of the fabric of the church remained although much detail had been removed.

Arrangement by GF Bodley 1864: courtesy Lambeth Palace Library.

Modern Age

The church we find today is still a beautiful building and deserves not only to be preserved but to find a new role in the 21st century.

Wigmore Centre – Living History

The Wigmore Centre CIC has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to commence the development phase of the transformation of St James’ Church into an Interpretive, Heritage and Community Centre.

©The Wigmore Centre CIC 2017