Clun (St. George)

CLUN (St. George), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Purslow, S. division of Salop, 26 miles (S. W.) from Shrewsbury, and 157 (N. W. by W.) from London; containing 2077 inhabitants. This place takes its name from the river Colun or Clun; which, rising in the forest of that name, 6 miles to the west, divides the town into two parts, and pursues an easterly course towards Ludlow. In the reign of Stephen, or, according to Camden, in that of Henry III., a castle was erected by Fitz-Alan, afterwards Earl of Arundel, on a lofty eminence overlooking the river, the proprietor of which possessed the power of life and death over his tenants; it was demolished by Owain Glyndwr in his rebellion against Henry IV. The remains present an interesting and picturesque object in the surrounding landscape, consisting of the lofty walls of the keep and the banquet-hall; and considerable masses of the ruins in various parts of the area indistinctly mark out both the ancient form and extent of this once stately pile. In the reign of Henry VIII. the parish was by statute made part of the newly formed county of Montgomery, from which it was afterwards severed, and included in that of Salop. An act was passed in 1837, for inclosing 8600 acres in the forest of Clun, and in 1839, one for inclosing 1700 in the township of Clun; several acres are set apart for the recreation of the inhabitants.

The town is romantically situated, on a gentle eminence surrounded by hills of bolder elevation, and consists principally of one long irregular street on the north bank of the river, over which is an ancient stone bridge of five sharply-pointed arches, leading to that part of the town where the church stands. The market is on Tuesday: the fairs are on the 11th May, Whit-Tuesday, and Sept. 23rd, for cattle, sheep, and pigs; and Nov. 22nd, which is a statute and a large cattle fair. Clun was formerly a lordship in the marches, and was first incorporated by the lords marchers, whose charter was confirmed to Edmund, Earl of Arundel, in the reign of Edward II., at which time its prescriptive right was admitted; but the charter not having been enrolled in chancery, and all the records of the lords marchers having been destroyed, its being an incorporated borough was proved by parole evidence. The government is vested in two bailiffs, a recorder, two serjeants-at-mace, and subordinate officers; and the bailiffs hold a court of record for the recovery of debts. The hundred court, for the recovery of debts under 40s., is held every third Wednesday, and courts leet in May and October; at that in October constables are appointed. The town-hall is a neat modern stone building, supported on arches.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 10. 5.; net income, £680; patron and impropriator, the Earl of Powis. The church, which was dependent on the priory of Wenlock, is a very ancient structure, in the earliest period of the Norman style, and has evidently been of much greater extent than it is at present, having had several chapels. It has a low tower of very large dimensions and of great strength, with a pyramidal roof, from the centre of which rises another tower of similar form, but smaller; the arch under the tower, forming the western entrance, bears a strong resemblance to the Saxon, and it is not improbable that this part of the building existed before the Conquest. The northern entrance is under a highly ornamented Norman arch, on the east side of which is an arched recess, richly cinquefoiled, and probably intended for the tomb of the founder. St. Mary's chapel of ease, at Chapel Lawn, was built in 1844, at a cost of £1200; it is in the early English style, with a campanile tower. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. Clun Hospital, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was founded, in 1614, and endowed by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, with tithes now producing a revenue of £1600 per annum. The establishment consists of eighteen poor brethren and a warden, and the management is vested in the bailiff, vicar, and churchwardens, the steward of the lordship, the rector of Hopesay, and the warden of the hospital; the Bishop of Hereford is visiter. The buildings comprise a quadrangle 40 yards in length, and the same in breadth: in 1845 they were extended on the east side of the quadrangle, by the erection of a chapel, a house for the warden, and a dining-hall. The poor law union of Clun comprises 19 parishes or places, namely, 17 in the county of Salop, one in Salop and Montgomery, and one in Montgomery; and contains a population of 10,024.

Within a quarter of a mile to the north-west of the town, is a single intrenchment, said to have been raised by Owain Glyndwr, as a shelter for his troops during their attack on the castle; and within half a mile to the south, is Walls Castle, the station from which it was battered. About two miles and a half to the north-east, is the camp of Ostorius, the station occupied by that general in his last battle with Caractacus; and about five to the south-east, near the confluence of the rivers Clun and Teme, and within 4 miles of Walcott, the seat of the Earl of Powis, are the Caer or Bury Ditches, the station of the British hero, and the scene of his last effort against the Roman power. The camp, which is of elliptic form, comprehends an area of from three to four acres, on the summit of a very lofty eminence, commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country; the steep acclivities are defended by a triple intrenchment of amazing strength, which, though overgrown with turf, is still entire. This fortification, evidently a work of prodigious labour, is one of the most interesting in the country, and, under the care of the Earl of Powis, is preserved with a due regard to its historical importance. In making a road from Clun to Bishop's-Castle, in 1780, several cannon-balls were found.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.