Geographical and Historical information from the year 1824.
"CLEOBURY MORTIMER, a parish and market town in the Cleobury division of the hundred of Stottesdon, a vicarage, in the diocese of Hereford, the deanery of Burford, and archdeaconry of Salop, 328 houses, 1,662 inhabitants. It has a market on Thursdays, and fairs April 21, June 4, October 27, for horned cattle, sheep, and pigs. It owes its name to its having formerly belonged to the noble family of Mortimer, and consists of one large street. The church is an elegant building of what is commonly, though improperly, called Gothick architecture, and once belonged to one of the mitred abbeys. A strong castle which formerly stood in this place, built by Hugh de Montgomery, was entirely destroyed in the wars, between Henry the second, and his rebellious barons.
On the north side of the church, is a free school, founded by Sir Edward Childe, one of the masters in chancery, who left three thousand five hundred pounds, for its support, besides a liberal salary to the master.
Near the school, a little to the east, are conjectured to be the remains of a Danish camp, the history of which is unknown.
This town is generally thought to have been the birth place of Robert Langelande, otherwise John Malverne, author of the visions of Pierce Plowman;- a severe satire upon the clergy of the fourteenth century. Cleobury Mortimer is about 30 miles south-east of Shrewsbury, in LAT. 52. 24 N. LONG. 2. 86 W.
Robert Langelande was one of our most ancient poets, and was a disciple of the celebrated reformer Wickliffe. Boyle, in his dictionary, informs us that "The Visions" were published during the mayoralty of John Chichester of London, in the year 1369. If this account be correct, many of Chaucer's and Gower's pieces made their appearance before Langelande's work. There are, however, many passages in the Plowman's Tale of Chaucer, which strongly resembles some of those in "The Visions;" - a strong presumption that Langelande's work is many years older than Chaucer's. In the general idiom and phraseology of Langelande, there is a marked difference. There is a much nearer approach in the works of the former, to the peculiar genius ofthe Anglo Saxon language, particularly in the derivation of his words, while the latter attempted, with Gower, to soften the harshness of our native tongue, by the introduction of words from the Latin, Italian, and French languages; and borrowed, from Petrarch and Dante, the seven lined stanza, which he introduced into our poetry.
Langelande's poem is extremely irregular, both in action and design. It is a severe satire upon almost every action of life; but particularly on the conduct of the clergy of that period. It abounds with humour; but, instead of rhymes, the author has contrived to make almost every verse begin with the same letter. It may be easily imagined, that this whimsical alliteration does not contribute largely either to perspicuity of style, or vigour of sentiment. But this mode of versification was borrowed from the Saxon Bards, and the work is full of Saxon Idioms. The following is a specimen of the Introduction:-
" In a summer season when hot was the sun I shoupe me into the shroubes as I a shepe were; In habit as a hermit, unholy of works, Went wide into the world wonders to hear, And on a May morning on Malvern hylles, Me befell a ferly, a fairy methought, I was wery of wand'ring. "
Seldon, Spencer, Hickes, and others have spoken of this author in terms of commendation. But apart from that vein of humour and just satire which runs through the work, it contains little worthy of admiration."
"CLEOBURY FOREIGN, a township in the parish of Cleobury Mortimer, and in the Ludlow division of the hundred of Stottesdon."
"DODDINGTON, a township in the parish of Cleobury Mortimer, and in the Cleobury division of the hundred of Stottesdon."