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The Parish of Cleobury Mortimer: St Mary the Virgin

The parish of St Mary's has a long and ancient hsitory (see below).  The community of St Mary’s is comprised of those who have spent most of their lives, in some cases all of their lives, within the community of Cleobury Mortimer and those who have been welcomed into the community over more recent years. As a consequence our Christian experience is wide and varied and is reflected in our Mission Statement.

‘St Mary’s is part of the Church, the Body of Christ; we seek to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed making known the presence of Christ through

welcome

  • which recognizes in all the very presence of Christ
  • reflects Christ as we strive to be a community of love
  • reaches out to all irrespective of race, gender, sexuality or creed

witness

  • which nurtures a relationship with the people of our parish
  • exists for the transformation of the local community
  • serves that community through love and hospitality
  • gives glory to God

worship

  • which is both sacramental and scriptural
  • values our Anglican heritage
  • seeks to be inclusive and relevant to all
  • empowers us to a life of holiness and makes us alive to serve God in the world

The church building of St Mary’s is situated in the centre of the attractive town of Cleobury Mortimer (Gateway to Shropshire).  The present church dates from c1160 with rebuilding and extensions during 14th and 15th centuries.  It was restored in 1874-5 by Sir Gilbert Scott and its prominent features are the leaning walls and twisted spire which forms a distinctive local landmark.  Over this period the church has provided a place of worship, both private and congregational, for the people of Cleobury Mortimer and a reminder of the continuing presence and love of God.

The church is open between 10.00 – 16.00 each day; times of services and other activities are available at the church or use the links at the right and above for more information.  

History

Cleobury Mortimer has a significant entry in the Domesday book. 

"The same Radulph de Mortimer holds Claiberie of the King. Edid (Queen Edith) held it (before). Here are iiii hides geldable. Arable land sufficient for xxiiii ox teams. In the demesne are iiii teams, xiii serfs1 , xx villain2 , a Priest, ii Radmans3 and viii Bordarii4 . They have among them all xx teams. Here is a mill rendering xi horse loads of corn, a wood capable of fattening 500 swine, returns 40s. In the time of K. Edward (Confessor) the manor was worth £8 per annum, and afterwards the same - now worth £12. The same Radulph holds Melela (Mawley) of one hide, and Lel of one virgate, and Fech of one virgate of land. These 3 small estates geldable, which, when Turstin de Wigemore received them from Earl William, he joined to the superior Manor of Claiberie, and then, and now, they are incorporated in it. It was also inclusive of Dodentone and Earls Ditton, a small manor of one hide usually accounted to be in Overs Hundred."

  1. a slave, belonging to the Lord of the Manor
  2. similar to an agricultural labourer, but belonged to the Manor on which he resided
  3. a grade above villain, somewhat resembling a farmer today
  4. servile tenants, who held land from the feudal lord, on condition of supplying his table with poultry, eggs etc

It is probable that "Cleobury" is derived from two Saxon words: burg meaning a dwelling or dwellings within a fortified enclosure - a castle, or walled town etc; and either clif a steep slope (the nearby Clee hills are certainly steep!), or clęg, the old English word for clay (there is much clay in the soil of Cleobury Mortimer and surrounding parishes).  That the old name was Claiberie may settle the question.  The "Mortimer" comes from Roger de Mortimer, a Norman to whom the manor was granted after the Conquest.  

Cleobury Mortimer was the site of at least two castles, possibly three. 

The priest spoken of as resident here at the time of the Domesday survey implies a pre-existent church, no doubt on the same site as the present church, though there is no vetige of Saxon work in the present church itself.  However, the Church of St Mary is ancient and has outlived the stormy scenes of 800 years.

Cleobury Mortimer itself may never have been much more than one long street, but the parish extends some way from the Wyre Forest in the east to the A4117 at Doddington in the west (see map).  Historically, the parish was divided into four districts: the Town Liberty, Doddington Liberty and the East and West Foreign Liberties.  The central section of the town was laid out in burgage plots.  Burgage plots (from which we derived the term burgess were a long and narrow plot of land, with a house facing the street.  There was usually a lane round the back to provide access.  These plots were rented from the lord of the manor and the rent, called tenure, was paid in the form of services, or more usually, money.  The burgage plots in Cleobury Mortimer are still very evident today.

The town declined in imprtance during the Middle Ages, until local iron ore was exploited in the 16C.  There were at least two furnaces and two water-powered forges.  Water also powered a paper mill on the River Rea until the end of the 19C. 

 

 

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