BISHOP'S CASTLE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1831.


" BISHOP'S CASTLE, a parish and borough and market-town, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Purslow, county of SALOP, 19 miles (N. W. by N.) from Ludlow, 20£ (S. W. by S.) from Shrewsbury, and 157 (N. W. by W.) from London, containing 1880 inhabitants, of which number, 1616 are within the borough. This place owes its name to a castle belonging to the bishops of Hereford, that stood here, but of which the site alone, now a bowling-green belonging to the Castle Inn, and some small portions of the enclosing walls, can be traced: a subterraneous passage is said to have subsisted from this castle to another at some distance, the arched entrance to which is shown in the garden of an adjoining house; but it is scarcely distinguishable from the heaps of stones found in various parts of the. hill on which the castle stood. The town is partly situated on the summit, but chiefly on the steep declivity of a hill: the houses in general are meanly built of unhewn stone, with thatched roofs; though, in detached situations, there are several handsome edifices of modern erection. Such of the inhabitants as have not pumps attached to their houses, are indifferently supplied with water, from a reservoir under the town-hall, into which it is conveyed by pipes from the neighbouring hills. The market is on Friday, and is well supplied with grain, which is sold by sample: the market-house, built within the last twenty years, by the Earl of Powis, is a handsome edifice of stone, supported on piazzas; the area is used as a corn market, and the upper part as a school-room. The fairs are onFebruary 13th, for cattle and sheep; on the Friday preceding Good Friday, which is a very large fair for horned cattle; on the first Friday after May-day, a pleasure and statute fair; July 5th, formerly a great wool fair j September 9th, and November 13th, for horned cattle, sheep, and horses. The government, by charter granted in the 15th year of the reign of Elizabeth, and confirmed and extended by James I., is vested in a bailiff, recorder, and fifteen capital burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, two Serjeants at mace, and subordinate officers: the bailiff, late bailiff, and recorder, are justices of the peace. The bailiff is elected from among the capital burgesses, on the first Monday before Michaelmas-day, and sworn into office on the first Monday after it; the capital burgesses are chosen by a majority of the burgesses at large: the freedom is acquired only by birth. The corporation hold a court of session quarterly for the borough, on the next Wednesday after the general quarter sessions for the county, at which the bailiff, the late bailiff or justice, and the recorder, preside; and a court of record is held every alternate Saturday, for the recovery of debts under £20, under the presidency of the bailiff and two capital burgesses. The town-hall is a plain brick edifice on pillars and arches, built by the subscriptions of the burgesses, in 1750, with a prison on the basement story for criminals, and above it one for debtors. The elective franchise was conferred in the 26th of Elizabeth, since which time the borough has returned two members to parliament. The right of election is vested in the burgesses generally, about sixty in number, provided they have been resident within the borough twelve months prior to the election, in default of which they lose their title to vote: the bailiff is the returning officer. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Salop, and diocese of Hereford, rated in the king's books at £9. 12. 10., and in the patronage of the Earl of Powis. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a fine old structure, principally in the Norman style, with a square embattled tower, crowned with pinnacles: it was burnt in the parliamentary war, by "Cromwell, and has been rebuilt without a due regard to the original style of its architecture. The free school was founded, in 1737, by Mrs. Mary Morris, in memory of her first husband, Mr. John Wright, of Wimbledon in Surrey, merchant, a native of Bishop's Castle, and endowed with & 1000 in the three per cents., for the instruction of twenty-five boys and twenty-five girls in reading, - writing, and arithmetic, and the latter in sewing and knitting. Some charitable benefactions are distributed by the vicar and churchwardens, in money and bread. Jeremy Stephens, author of various doctrinal works, and the learned coadjutor of Sir Henry Spelman in the compilation of the " English Councils," was a native of the place."

[Transcribed information from A Topographical Dictionary of England - Samuel Lewis - 1831] (unless otherwise stated)

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]