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The River Wye


Wilton, Bridstow Herefordshire


Wilton Castle in the background of this print of coaches at Ross in 1843. Just visible in the middle distance is a Wye sailing barge. Within a dozen years both modes of transports would be superseded by the railway.


Wilton and Wilton Bridge from the Ross-on-Wye side of the river.

If Ashe Ingen takes its name from ash trees, Wilton is the estate among the willows.

At Domesday Ashe Ingen (Ascis) and Wilton belonged to the manor of Cleeve on the left bank of the Wye. Cleeve had belonged to Harold Godwinson before he became king. The manor of Cleeve was centred in the area which is now Lower Cleeve Farm on the southern outskirts of Ross-on-Wye. It has been suggested that it was Harold who took this area from the Welsh while he was campaigning against them in the 1050s.

Cleeve is Clive in 1086. The meaning is 'cliff', presumably the sandstone cliff above the Wye on which Ross church and the Prospect stand. 


Shortly after his accession in 1100 Henry I granted a new manor of Wilton to Hugh de Longchamp by  service of two men-at-arms. This new manor superseded and incorporated the old manor of Cleeve. Most of what is now Bridstow parish was within the new manor as were extensive lands in the modern-day parishes of Peterstow, Sellack, Hentland, Marstow, Kings Caple and Much Birch. Hugh was dead by 1109 when the manor was held by his son Henry. It would have been Hugh or Henry who began building Wilton Castle.

For Wilton Castle click image

During the Anarchy, Matilda created Miles of Gloucester Earl of Hereford and gave him the manor of Wilton. Miles was killed in a hunting accident in 1143 and his son Roger inherited Wilton together with the rest of Miles' lands.

Roger held these lands throughout Stephen's reign, and when Stephen died in 1154 Matilda's son, King Henry II, confirmed Roger with his father's lands. Roger himself died without issue the following year and Wilton reverted to the crown.

The manor was returned to the de Longchamp family in 1156 in the person of another Hugh de Longchamp, and remained in that line until 1282 when another Henry de Longchamp died. Henry's granddaughter inherited. She was married to a Reginald de Grey who became the new Lord of Wilton Manor.


Wilton at Easter 2006


In an Inquisition Post Mortem held at Wilton on 8th January 1324 there is a description of the manor of Wilton. The jurors would have been local men - at least six of them were Welsh - Nicholas ap Cradoc, Jevan ap Jorwerth, William ap Griffith, Meredith de Martinstowe, Meuric ap Knaython and Adam ap Cradoc. Philip Goch is also likely to have been Welsh.

Inquiry held before John de Hampton, the lord King’s escheator for the counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire Worcestershire, Shropshire and Staffordshire, at Wilton on the 8th day of January in the 17th year of the reign of King Edward son of King Edward [1324] according to the tenor of the lord king’s writ sewn to this inquisition, by the oaths of

Philip Goch
Mathew de Gosebroke
Nicholas ap Cradoc
Jevan ap Jorwerth
William ap Griffith
John de Gosebroke
William le Bature [?]
Meredith de Martinstowe
Roger de Gosebroke
Meuric ap Knaython
Walter Sholda et
Adam ap Cradoc 

who say under oath that John de Grey was seised on the day of his death of the manor of Wilton upon Wye in the County of Hereford and that he held the said manor by the service of 2½ knights’ fees of the king in chief

And they say that there is there a certain castle with an outer court with two gardens, one courtyard and one pigeon house which are worth per year 16s 8d

Item: they say that there are there 360 acres of arable land which are worth per year £4 10s which is 3d per acre

And there are also 90 acres of meadow which are worth 40s per year which is 18d an acre

And there are there 18 acres of pasture which are worth 9s per year [6d/acre]

Item: there are there 4 acres of under-wood worth per year 3s 4d [10d/acre]

and there are two water mills upon the Wye worth per year at 60s and there is there a third part of one water mill value per year 8s.

Item: there are there two fulling mills worth per year 40s

and there are there two fishponds and they are worth per year 6s 8d

and there are there a fishery with a weir which are worth per year 13s 4d

and there is the assized rent of the free tenants worth £36 1s 11½d per year, that is at the feast of St Andrew [30th Nov] 101s 7½d, at the feast of the annunciation of the blessed Mary [25th Mar] £9 16s 6½d, at the feast of John Baptist [24 Jun] 103s 7½d and at the feast of St Michael [29th Sept] £16 0s 1¾d

and there are there of rent of assize at the feast of the birth of St John Baptist [24th Jun] the heads of 24 barbed arrows price 12d

Item: one ferry across the Wye 100s per year

Item: there is there of the rent of customary tenants at the feast of the invention of the Holy Cross [3 May] 24s

Item: of their rent at the feast of St Michael [29th Sept] 35s 8½d

Item: of their works from the feast of St Michael [29th Sept] until Christmas 27s 8d.

Item: of their works from Christmas until the annunciation of the blessed Mary [25th Mar] 29s 3d

Item: of their works from the annunciation of the blessed Mary [25th Mar] until Lammas [1st August] 38s 8d

Item: of their works from Lammas [1st August] until the feast of St Michael [29th Sept] 32s 9d

Item: of their rent 19 geese at the same term price 4s 9d [=3d each]

Item: there are there of their rent one cock and two chickens price 4d

Item: they say that the pleas and profits of court there are worth 40 s per year

Item: they say that the said John de Grey holds nothing of others in the said county except of the King as is aforesaid

And they say that Henry de Grey son of the said John de Grey is the next heir of the same John and that the said Henry was aged 41 years at the feast of the apostles Simon and Jude last past [28th Oct 1323]

In testimony whereof the said jurors have appended their seals to this inquiry.

translated from Latin by Rebecca Roseff and David Lovelace


The de Greys held the manor until 1578 when Arthur de Grey gave the manor to Charles Brydges. Charles was the second son of Sir John Brydges, Baron Chandos of Sudely. During the reign of Philip and Mary, Charles Brydges had been cup bearer to King Philip and had been deputy lieutenant of the tower of London to his father when the warrant for the execution of the Princess Elizabeth was received there. His delay in obeying this meant that her life was saved and that she succeeded to the throne. The Chandos title passed to Charles' great grandson James when the line descending from the older brother died out.

Charles Brydges himself died in 1619 and the manor passed to his son Giles who married the sister of Viscount Scudamore of Holme Lacy. Their son John married Mary, daughter and sole heiress of James Pearle of Dewsall whose dowry included Aconbury Court and much land. On the death of Pearle the manor of Dewsall passed into the Brydges family.

Sir John Brydges died in 1651and was succeeded by his son James who inherited the Chandos title and died while the patent creating him Viscount Wilton and Earl of Caernarvon was in progress in 1714. Sir James was succeeded by his son, also called James received these titles which were superceded by the higher ones of Marquis of Caernarvon and Duke of Chandos.

James Brydges was known as the Princely Chandos because of his love of conspicuous expenditure. His lavish family home, Cannons, was satirised by Alexander Pope in his 1731 poem Epistle to Burlington (Moral Essay IV)

At Timon's villa let us pass a day
Where all cry out, "What sums are thrown away!
"So proud, so grand of that stupendous air,
Soft and agreeable come never there.
Greatness, with Timon, dwells in such a draught
As brings all Brobdingnag before your thought

To compass this, his building is a town,
His pond an ocean, his parterre a down:............"

In 1731 also James Brydges, sold all the family's Herefordshire estates to the Governors of Guys Hospital.

The story of this manor is told in A History of the Manor of Wilton and the parish of Bridstow, Herefordshire by R A Hart, 1994 while that of the river crossing at Wilton is reported in A History of the River Crossing at Wilton-on-Wye by Heather Hurley, 1993. Both of these are published by the Ross-on-Wye and District Civic Society.

Wilton from the bridge






Wilton Castle and Bridge, Bridstow

Photograph © Chris Musson & the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club.


Click to view walk around Wilton




Bridstow GENUKI pages


Archaeological records from Bridstow are held by Historic Herefordshire On Line

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Wye Valley History pages

maintained by Archenfield Archaeology Ltd


This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.