About St Nicholas Church

The construction of the parish church of Montgomery, a grade 1 listed building at the heart of the historic town of Montgomery, was started between 1223 and 1227; it is dedicated to St Nicholas – St Nicholas of Myra or Bari was a favourite saint of the Normans and 400 English churches are dedicated to....

 

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Service Times

Service times are published at the entrance to the church. Due to Covid restrictions these can change often.

If you would like to learn more about the service times for St Nicholas, please get in contact  through our facebook page or telephone
01686 641992

 

 

St Nicholas Church - Montgomery

Rev. Dr Alexis Smith Priest-in-Charge

Welcome to St. Nicholas Church.

As you can see, St. Nicholas has had a long history of influence in the community and the world beyond. Please have a look around this page and read about its amazing history.

The Montgomery Lives

The ‘Montgomery Lives’ project with Montgomery C in W school in June 2021 was led by composer/ Musician, Ian Morgan-Williams and poet, Pat Edwards......


 

Welcome to St Nicholas’s Stories

A National Heritage Lottery Fund supported project telling the stories of our beautiful, historic church here in Montgomery, Powys and the people who helped to shape its past and influence its future.

St Nicholas’s Stories was supported by the NHLF 15 Minute Heritage Fund as a way to share some of the building’s history with both local people in Montgomery and visitors to the town.

The project has been managed by members of the church and we’ve been busy:-

Creating some new panels telling the stories of famous people connected with our church
Creating short films with members of our community, telling some of their own stories about the church and their connection with it. Working with composer Ian Morgan Williams and poet Pat Edwards in Montgomery Church in Wales School to create some new ballads about the town and its history.
And researching more deeply into some of the historical figures connected to the church including Owain Glyndwr’s daughter Catrin and her marriage to Edmund Mortimer as well as the amazing children of Magdalene Herbert who had such a huge influence of the life and culture of their times.

We hope you enjoy exploring some of what we’ve learned through our website – and come and visit St Nicholas Church in Montgomery soon.

George Herbert, younger brother of Edward Herbert (Lord Chirbury) was born at Black Hall, Montgomery Castle in 1593 – the year the Herbert family moved from the stone castle on the hill into their new and more comfortable mansion near Arthur's Gate. His father died in 1596, leaving his mother, Magdalen Herbert, with sole responsibility for the education of her seven sons and three daughters. George was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected Public Orator. George liked fine clothes and would probably have preferred an appointment at the court of King James I and he served briefly as MP for Montgomery in 1624-5, but his frail health and natural talent for learning made a career in the Church more appropriate. Rather late in life at the age of 36 George settled for a humble curacy at Bemerton in Wiltshire where he died, probably of consumption, three years later. Herbert's poems were published posthumously in 1633.. His religious lyrics are characterised by intense devotion and humility, firmly rooted in Christian teaching. The poet-priest accepts conflict within his faith which gives drama to his poems -- a conflict he seeks to resolve by kindness and tolerance.

More Information Here

Edmund Mortimer and Catrin Glyndwr’s marriage brought together two warring parties, strengthening Wales’ rebellion by bringing the Marcher Lord Mortimer into Glyndwr’s camp until Edmund’s death at the siege of Harlech.

Catrin de Mortimer (born Catrin Glyndŵr) was born in 1380, to Owain Glyndwr ap Gruffudd and Margaret (Margred de Hanmer) ap Gruffudd (born de Hanmer). Edmund Mortimer was born at Ludlow Castle on December 10 1376. Mortimer may well have known Owain Glyndŵr as early as 1387, as they were both at the battle of Radcot Bridge in that year. Glyndŵr served under Richard the 11th Earl of Arundel – who Mortimer’s sister Philippa had married.

Their ‘notorious association’ or infamis conversacio in the Latin original, was the English chronicler Thomas Walsingham’s description of the interaction between Owain Glyndŵr and Sir Edmund Mortimer.

The Mortimers had a difficult long term relationship with their Welsh tenants, even after Mortimer lordship over the Welsh territories of Maelienydd and Gwerthrynion—what later became northern Radnorshire—had been consolidated in the second half of the thirteenth century, generations of armed conflict would have securely fixed the Mortimers in Welsh popular memory as invaders and occupiers. Hostility and suspicion were, doubtless, mutual: a Wigmore chronicle tellingly described the destroyers of the Mortimer castle of Cefnllys in 1262 as the ‘traitors of Maelienydd’ (proditores de Melenith).

Both Edmund Mortimer and his brother-in-law Henry 'Hotspur' Percy (married to Mortimer’s sister Elizabeth) fought for Henry IV against the Welsh leader Owain Glyndŵr. However, at the Battle of Bryn Glas (Pileth) on 22 June 1402, Mortimer (age 26) was defeated, allegedly because some of his Welsh forces conscripted from among his own Radnorshire tenants defected, and he was taken prisoner.

King Henry believed Mortimer had allowed himself to be captured. He forbade the Percy family to seek their kinsman's ransom, and seized Mortimer’s estates. Mortimer thereupon transferred his allegiance to Glyndŵr. He remained loyal to the Welsh until the end of his life. “After the battle Henry IV had written about the capture of his ‘very dear and well beloved cousin Edmund Mortimer’. These words breathed hypocrisy: the king’s reluctance to pay a no doubt huge ransom for Mortimer—despite the urging of Henry Hotspur, Mortimer’s brother-in-law—soon became apparent.” Prof Williams

On 30 November 1402 he married Glyndŵr's daughter Catrin in a wedding ‘fit for a princess’ (RR Davies). She was 22 years old. Mortimer was 26.

Then, on 13 December 1402, Mortimer proclaimed in writing that he had joined Glyndŵr in his efforts to restore King Richard II to the throne, if alive, and if dead, to make his nephew Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, King of England.

Mortimer joined with Percy and Glyndŵr to fight against Henry IV. However, after Shrewsbury, Glyndŵr's attacks on the king's forces were largely unsuccessful, and according to T. F. Tout, 'Mortimer himself was reduced to great distress'. He died in 1409, either during or shortly after the eight-month siege of Glyndŵr's stronghold of Harlech Castle by Henry IV's son, Henry, Prince of Wales.

Popular perception of Mortimer’s marriage to Catherine Glyndŵr is inevitably coloured by its depiction in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1. Whilst Mortimer is made to regret ‘My wife can speak no English, I no Welsh’, their portrayal is that of a love-lorn couple. Lovingly Mortimer tells his wife:

 

But I will never be a truant, love, Till I have learn’d thy language; for thy tongue. Makes Welsh as sweet as ditties highly penn’d, Sung by a fair queen in a summer’s bower . . .

 

 

 

Glyndŵr then bids him to ‘rest your gentle head upon her lap’. (Prof Williams) Mortimer’s marriage according to Walsingham was because of ‘weariness at his dreadful captivity, or through fear of death’ and was an inferior match that did not befit his noble position; Adam Usk characterized the marriage as causing ‘a great deal of murmuring amongst the people’.

Edmund Mortimer and his wife Catrin had one son, Lionel, and three daughters. 1403-1408 “The autumn and winter of 1408-9 saw the siege of Harlech castle by an English army of 300 men-at-arms and 600 archers under Gilbert Talbot, justice of North Wales, and his brother John. Despite the setback of the bursting of a large English cannon called ‘The King’s Daughter’, the combination of bombardment and a blockade of supplies took their toll on the Welsh defenders who by February 1409 were forced to yield. A Welsh chronicle recorded that ‘many gentlemen of Wales’ died in the siege. Amongst the casualties was Edmund Mortimer: Adam Usk recorded that Edmund ‘eventually ended his unhappy life in Harlech castle, besieged by an English army’, adding, interestingly, ‘and these remarkable events are still to this day sung about at feasts’. Edmund’s burial place is unknown: the identification of an effigy in the church of Montgomery as his is conjectural, but not implausible. ” Prof Williams

After Mortimer's death the King had Catrin and her daughters brought to London, where they were held in custody at the Tower of London 27 June. In 1413 she and two of her daughters were buried at St Swithin, London Stone. The cause of death is unknown though as they all died at the same time it is most likely they died of the plague which swept through London in 1413/14. Glyndŵr’s mother Margaret Hanmer was also captured at Harlech and taken to the Tower of London, she outlived them but her fate isn’t recorded.

 

The large sum of thirty pounds was paid to John Wele, ‘for the expenses of the wife of Owen Glendourdi, the wife of Edmund Mortimer, their sons and daughters in his custody in the city of London at the King’s charge’. Wele was steward to the Earl of Arundel and constable of Oswestry; a Welshman, maybe significantly, once called him ‘fals John Wele’. The reference to Margaret Hanmer is the last we hear of her: Owain’s wife became one of the ‘disappeared’ of the revolt, her fate unknown. The last that is learnt about Catrin and her children is a sombre record of a payment on 1 December 1413 to another Arundel official, William del Chaumbre: he was paid a pound ‘for expenses and other charges incurred for the burial and exequies of the wife of [Edmund] Mortimer and her daughters, buried within Saint Swithin’s Church, London.’ In February 1414 John Wele received back-payments for his expenses in connection with their imprisonment. A Cardiff University historian, Dr Gabriel Brough, has claimed that Catrin and her children were starved to death in the Tower. But there is no evidence for this and the record of the payments gainsays this claim, unless, of course, the money was misappropriated. There was a plague outbreak in England in 1413 and it is much more likely that the unfortunate Catrin and her children fell victims to this: the fact of their simultaneous deaths tends to point to this conclusion. In 2001, a memorial to Catrin and her children and to the suffering of all mothers and children in wars was unveiled in the garden by the Welsh actress Siân Phillips.

With thanks for the support of Professor Gruffydd Aled Williams

Source : [1]P. M. Remfry, The Wigmore Chronicle 1066 to 1377 (s.l., 2013), iv, 43–4. [2]Tout, T.F. & Davies, R.R. (2004). "Mortimer, Sir Edmund (IV) (1376–1408/9), landowner and rebel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19343. Archived from the original on 16 February 2019. [3]Owain Glyndwr Casebook, 66–7. [4]Wikopedia: “Catrin ferch Owain Glyndŵr”, also Tout, T.F. and Davies, R.R. [5]Ibid. [5]The St Albans Chronicle: The Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham, II, ed. J. Taylor, W. R. Childs, and L. Watkiss (Oxford, 2011), 322–3. [6]The quotations are from Henry IV. Part 1, Act III, Scene 1. [7] St Albans Chronicle, II, 336–9. [8] Chronicle of Adam Usk, 160–1. [9] On the siege see J. H. Wylie, History of England under Henry the Fourth, III (London, 1896), 265–6; Rh. Griffiths, ‘Y Tywysog Harri a Gwarchaeau Olaf Gwrthryfel Glyndŵr’, Dwned, 20 (2014), 49. [10] ‘Annals of Owen Glyn Dŵr,’ in Lloyd, Owen Glendower, 153. [11]Chronicle of Adam Usk, 160–1.

The church’s chief architectural gem is the outstanding Elizabethan canopied monument of Richard Herbert, erected by his wife Magdalen Herbert. Below an arched canopy lie Sir Richard and his wife, he in black armor trimmed with gold and she in an elaborate flowered costume of the time, with a ruff and with her hair in a red net below a flat black cap. The Inscription on the tomb is below: -

 

“Here lyeth the Body of Richard Herbert Esquire, whose monument was made at the cost of Magdalen his wife, daughter of Sir Richard Newport of High Ercell in the County of Salop, Knight, deceased, and Dame Margaret his wife, daughter and sole heir to Sir Thomas Bromley, Knight, late Lord Chief Justice of England, one of the Executors of the late Kinge of most famous memory, King Henry the viii; Ano Dom 1600”

Behind are their children, amongst whom are the noted seventeenth century poet and priest George Herbert, and the poet Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Below, a traditional cadaver in a winding sheet acts as a memento mori.

Magdalen Herbert is celebrated as the friend and muse of the metaphysical poet John Donne, who dedicated many of his poems to her and whose visits to her in Montgomery are documented in his verse, including Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward and The Primrose, Being at Montgomery Castle.

Magdalen was born in the early 1560s into a Shropshire family that traced its lineage back to both English and Welsh royalty. In the 1390s her ancestors had obtained the manor of High Ercall, the chief manor of their estates, which were greater than those of any other Shropshire family since the conquest.

After Richard’s death, the family moved in with Magdalen's mother Margaret Newport in Eyton-on-Severn, Shropshire. Newport died in 1599 and the family then moved to Oxford, before moving again to London in 1601. Magdalen Herbert remarried several years later; her second husband Sir John Danvers was two decades her junior, a courtier and later one of the signatories on the death warrant of King Charles I. She died in 1627 and was buried in Chelsea church, London but was not given a monument.

The Herbert family lived in Blackhall, below the castle. In the early 17th Century, Edward Herbert built a brick house in the castle, which Captain Myddleton destroyed, together with much of the castle, after Edward negotiated a surrendered to Parliamentary forces in 1644, following the Battle of Montgomery. As part of the surrender, Edward was given time to remove his precious belongings, including an extensive library.

The Herbert Children

St Nicholas Church Montgomery

 

Magdalene Herbert (ex Newport) had a total of 10 children, the last of which was born after Richard’s death in 1597. These are the children on the tomb and their lives helped shape the history of Britain in the 17th Century (later Lord Herbert of Chirbury) – wrote the first autobiography in English. Edward was also a poet, soldier, and ambassador to France. He was the father of English Deism – published his book, De Veritate in 1624 – ‘On Trust, as It Is Distinguished from Revelation, the Probable, the Possible, and the False’ – _which set out the five articles that became the charter of the English deists – the belief that rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and that observation of the natural world alone is enough to provide evidence of a Supreme Being/Creator of the Universe – which was on the index of forbidden books held by the Catholic Church.

 

 

Richard Herbert. (b. 1587 or 88) Died young
William Herbert. (baptised 12 March 1589 or 90) Died young.

 

George Herbert (baptised 3 April 1593), the poet and Rector of Bemerton, near Salisbury, was also MP briefly and Orator of Cambridge University. George Herbert’s poetry is at the heart of many of the favourite hymns still sung in churches across the world today including “Let all the World in Every Corner Sing” “King of Glory King of Peace” “Teach me My God and King” and many others. He is also renowned for his concrete poetry (shaped to represent the thing of which it speaks) including Easter Wings.

George Herbert's interest in music seems to have been fostered from a young age. In one of his Latin poems, Memoriae Matris Sacrum ('In Sacred Memory of My Mother', Magdalen Herbert), Herbert remembered how there was always music in the family home (Memoriae II, 'Corneliae sanctae', ll.42-44). Two of the most famous musicians of the day, the composers William Byrd and John Bull, dined at the family home in London. Music in the Herbert household wasn't simply reserved for after-dinner entertainment, and often coincided with more 'virtuous' concerns.

George's oldest brother Edward taught himself to sing and play the lute at university, 'that I might entertaine my selfe...and that I might not neede the company of younge men in whome I obserued in those tymes much ill example and deboist [debauchery].' (The Life of Edward, First Lord Herbert of Cherbury, ed. Shuttleworth, pp.16-17)

Henry Herbert (baptised 7 July 1594), served as Master of Revels, overseeing theatrical entertainment at the courts of James I/VI and Charles I. He also kept the Book of Revels which listed all the plays that passed his scrutiny before being allowed to be performed. He was the censor off and on for a very long period in the 17th century. The surviving transcripts of Henry Herbert's "office-book" are among the most important documentary records of English Renaissance drama. Herbert recorded all of his activities as Master of the Revels, in particular his licensing of plays for performance and his organisation of court performances. His detailed records provide modern scholars with dates for many plays of the period, as well as dates of performances at court, and evidence for the existence of lost plays.

Thomas Herbert born after his father’s death (15 May 1597). Became a naval officer.

He served as page to Sir Edward Cecil in Germany, and distinguished himself by his gallantry at the siege of Juliers in 1610, when aged 13. In 1616 he took service under Captain Benjamin Joseph, commander (age 19) of Globe, East Indiaman. When Joseph was killed in an engagement with a Portuguese carrack, Herbert assumed the command, and eventually beat off and disabled the enemy. He pursued his voyage to Surat, Gujarat India arriving there in March 1617. Thence he went up the country to Mandow (Mandu) Dhar India, where the great mogul kept his court. He returned in the autumn to Surat, and to England the following year.

Thomas Herbert served under Sir Robert Mansell, in the expedition to Algiers (1620–1621), and commanded the ship which brought Prince Charles home from Spain in October 1623 after an unsuccessful attempt to marry him to the Hapsburg Princess Maria Anna. He also carried Count Mansfeld from Dover to Flushing on his expedition for the recovery of the Palatinate (lower Rhein), January 1624–1625, when he lost the ship near the Dutch coast, but got Mansfeldt ashore in the long-boat.

He was appointed to the command of HMS Dreadnought, a 41 gun galleon in the Tudor navy, 25 September 1625 (expedition to Cadiz and Seige of La Rochelle 1628 – was an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the siege by sea). From that date he had no promotion, and thinking himself ill-used, "retired", says his brother, "to a private and melancholy life, being much discontented to find others preferred to him; in which sullen humour having lived many years, he died and was buried in London in St. Martin's, near Charing Cross". The registers at St. Martin's contain no record of his death.

The daughters were Elizabeth (baptised 10 Nov 1583), Margaret (b. 1585 or 86), and Frances (b. 1595). Anne (born around 1588, died around 1639) married James Shelton, member of the Virginia Company who travelled to Virginia in 1610, was a resident of Jamestown in 1620 and later moved to Barbados in 1630 with his wife

TO THE LADY MAGDALEN HERBERT, OF ST. MARY MAGDALEN.

by John Donne

 

“Here lyeth the Body of Richard Herbert Esquire, whose monument was made at the cost of Magdalen his wife, daughter of Sir Richard Newport of High Ercell in the County of Salop, Knight, deceased, and Dame Margaret his wife, daughter and sole heir to Sir Thomas Bromley, Knight, late Lord Chief Justice of England, one of the Executors of the late Kinge of most famous memory, King Henry the viii; Ano Dom 1600”

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St Nicholas Church would like to thank the Heritage fund for supporting St Nicholas’s Stories

 

Heritage Fund