PRESTEIGNE

 

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Presteigne is a town and community in Powys, Wales. It was the county town of the historic county of Radnorshire, and is in the Diocese of Hereford. Despite lying on a minor B road the town has, in common with several other towns close to the Wales-England border, assumed the motto,

Gateway to Wales

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The town sits on the River Lugg, having nearby towns such as Kington and Knighton as neighbours, as well as surrounding villages like Norton and Stapleton.

Presteigne is considered by Country Life magazine editor Clive Aslet to be one of Britain’s top 10 small towns.

The town probably began as a small settlement around a Minster church dedicated to St Andrew and at the time of the Domesday Book and formed part of the manor of Humet.

By the mid-12th century it was known as ‘Presthemede’ or ‘the border meadow of the priests’. A century later, it passed into the control of the Mortimers, powerful Marcher lords, and on their fall passed into the hands of the Crown.

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At the end of the 13th century, the majority of the town’s inhabitants, mainly English, enjoyed some prosperity but the Black Death and the Glyndŵr rebellion had destroyed this and by the end of the 15th century, the now largely Welsh, population lived in a struggling village. A significant victory in their rebellion was won by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr nearby at the Battle of Bryn Glas in 1402.

The development of a thriving cloth industry in the Tudor period brought short-lived prosperity, ended by three new epidemics of plague in three successive generations. Thereafter it became a market town and, until the later 16th century, a centre for processing locally grown barley into malt.

By the Acts of Union, Presteigne – at first jointly with New Radnor – became the county town of Radnorshire and its administrative and judicial centre, housing the county gaol and the Shire Hall.

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By the end of the 19th century its newer and larger neighbour, Llandrindod Wells, had usurped the role of administrative centre, but Presteigne remained the venue for the Assizes until these were abolished in 1971.

After a period of stagnation in the first half of the 20th century, the town has developed a diverse manufacturing baseand has begun to exploit its tourism potential while its environment and the development of its social, cultural and leisure facilities have helped to attract people to settle.

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