Ellesmere, Shropshire

Ellesmere, Shropshire

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 52.9082
longitude= -2.8944
official_name= Ellesmere
population = 3,223
shire_district= North Shropshire
shire_county = Shropshire
region= West Midlands
constituency_westminster= North Shropshire
post_town= ELLESMERE
postcode_district = SY12
postcode_area= SY
dial_code= 01691
os_grid_reference= SJ398349

Ellesmere is a small market town near Oswestry in north Shropshire, England, notable for its proximity to a number of prominent lakes, "the Meres".


Ellesmere Castle was probably an 11th-century motte-and-bailey castle most likely built by either Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury or his son Roger the Poitevin at Castlefields overlooking the Mere. Only its earthworks now remain, with the top of the motte being used for the bowling green, which still commands a fine view.

In 1114, King Henry I of England gave Ellesmere to William Peverel as a part of Maelor, which included Overton & Whittington at that time. His descendants retained Ellesmere until apparently the late 1140's when the lordship was acquired, probably by force, by Madog ap Maredudd of Powys. Madog died in 1160 and Ellesmere came into the hands of King Henry II.

In 1177 King Henry II of England gave the manors of Ellesmere and Hales in England to Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd (who already had a castle at Rhuddlan and was, by this time, the sole ruler of Gwynedd. Earlier, in the summer of 1174, Dafydd had married Emme of Anjou, half sister of Henry, and sister of Hamelin de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey, both illegitimate children of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou). Dafydd remained lord of Ellesmere until his death in 1203.

In mid-April 1205, Llywelyn the Great married Joan, Lady of Wales illegitimate daughter of King John of England and Ellesmere was given to them as a wedding gift. Llywelyn's mother was Marared (Margaret), daughter of Madog ap Maredudd, prince of Powys. There is evidence that, after her first husband Iorwerth's death, Marared married in the summer of 1197, Gwion, the nephew of Roger Powys of Whittington Castle. She seems to have pre-deceased her husband, after bearing him a son, David ap Gwion, and therefore there can be no truth in the story that she later married into the Corbet family of Caus Castle (near Westbury, Shropshire) and later, Moreton Corbet Castle. Ellesmere was ordered to be attacked by King Henry III in 1231, but Llywelyn retained control of the lordship until his death in 1240. In 1241 King Henry III ordered John Lestrange to repair the wooden castle of Ellesmere.

The lordship appears to have later passed into the hands of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd or his brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd, grandsons of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth and last of the native Princes of Wales. The castle fell to royal troops from Chester during March 1282.

In 1287, Oliver Ingham, who was an English commander and administrator in Aquitaine during the War of Saint-Sardos and early Hundred Years War was born in Ellesmere. His daughter Joan married Robert ("Roger") le Strange, son of Lord Strange of Knockin & Isolda de Walton.

By 1294, the preceptory of Dolgynwal (Yspytty Ifan, Denbighshire) had been united with Halston, which was subsequently the administrative centre for all Knights Hospitaller estates in North Wales. Dolgynwal, which had been founded c1190, had acquired Ellesmere church, its most substantial property, from Llywelyn the Great in 1225

In 1435, Griifin Kynaston, Seneschal of the Lordship of Ellesmere, (born at Stocks of landed gentry - descended from the Princes of Powys), gave evidence at Shrewsbury to confirm the age of John Burgh, Lord of Mowthey, sponsored by Lord John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, lieutenant of Ireland [cite journal
last = Archealogical Society
first = British
title = Collectanea Archaelogica
pages = 223
date= 1871
] . Griffin's fourth son, Sir Roger Kynaston, was appointed for life as Escheator and Sheriff of Merioneth and became constable of Harlech Castle and Sheriff of Shropshire. Through his second marriage to Elizabeth Grey, their descendants derived Royal descent. Humphrey Kynaston, the son of Roger's first wife Elizabeth Cobham and her first husband Lord Strange was, in 1491, declared an Outlaw by Henry VII and took shelter in a cave in the west point of Nesscliffe Rock, called to this day "Kynaston's Cave". He was pardoned in 1493.

The former Marcher Lordship of Ellesmere (formerly a Hundred in its own right) was annexed to Shropshire and the Hundred of Pymhill by section 11 of the Laws in Wales Act 1535.

Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere was born Lord Francis Leveson-Gower, in Ellesmere in 1587, later Viscount Brackley. A patron of the arts, in 1848, he purchased at auction for 355 guineas from the estate of "Richard Temple-Grenville, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos", the only known (or suspected) portrait of William Shakespeare in existence. Ellesmere Island in Canada was named after him.

There was a tannery located on the edge of the mere, in what is now known as Cremorne Gardens. These gardens were given to the people of Ellesmere by Lord Brownlow.


The town is located by the side of 'The Mere', the largest natural Mere (lake) in England outside the Lake District and one of nine glacial Meres in the area. ('Glacial' means that the depression occupied by the mere was the location of a block of ice that persisted at the end of the last Ice Age.)

An artificial island in the Mere was constructed in 1812 from soil dug out during the making of the gardens at Ellesmere House. This was later named "Moscow Island", as Napoleon was forced to withdraw from Moscow that year. The mere has a visitors' centre and is popular with birdwatchers, many of whom visit to see Grey Herons nesting. There are eight other meres nearby: Blakemere, Colemere, Crosemere, Kettlemere, Newtonmere, Whitemere, Sweatmere & Hanmer Mere.

The civil parish which constitutes the town is Ellesmere Urban - see also the parish of Ellesmere Rural. It lies in North Shropshire district.


Perhaps the largest employer in Ellesmere is the long established Lakeside Coaches company, which currently runs a fleet of about 20 up-to-date vehicles, mostly Volvo-Plaxton coaches.


The A495 and A528 roads cross at Ellesmere. The latter runs 15 miles south-south-east from Ellesmere to the county town, Shrewsbury.

The town lies on a spur of the Llangollen Canal, which eventually terminates in Froncysyllte, Wales. It was originally known as the Ellesmere Canal. Thomas Telford was overall director of its construction. Work lasted from 1793 to 1805 with the aim of reaching Ellesmere Port, but never got that far due to costs. During its construction, Telford lived in a house next to the canal in Ellesmere, which still stands today.


Ellesmere's most notable building is Ellesmere Old Town Hall, built in 1833.


The town has two schools. Ellesmere Primary School is a primary and nursery school for boys and girls aged 4-11. The Lakelands School provides State-paid education for boys and girls in the 11-16 age range (for whom schooling is compulsory). Several other nearby schools serve the wider community, such as Welshampton Church of England school, which recently scored among the highest in the country in OFSTED reports in all categories.

A short distance outside the town is Ellesmere College, a public (i.e., private) boarding school founded in 1884 by Canon Nathaniel Woodard for sons of the middle classes. It is now a fully co-educational school catering for pupils from 7-18.


Sports clubs in Ellesmere include the Cricket Club, which after a number of years in the doldrums is on the rise with a successful first eleven which was runner up in the Shropshire Cricket League Division 4 in 2006 and were Division 3 champions in 2007. The club also has a flourishing junior section which provides high quality coaching from the clubs own ECB qualified coaches and fully complies with all child protection requirements. The club has entered under-11 and under-13 teams in the junior league and now has a second II playing in division 7 of the Shropshire league. The Birch road ground is one of the more picturesque in the area situated alongside the canal and surrounded by open fields. The club have embarked on a major restructuring of the ground with the full support of the town council which includes the planting of over 150 new trees as well as an expansion of the playing area. The external link below provides more details.

Notable people

In chronological order by year of birth:-
* Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury - castle builder - born c1030-1094
* Mellet de Ellesmere (c1060-70), niece of William Peverel - about whom an epic tale "The Romance of Fouke le Fitz Warine" was told - depicting her marriage to Guarine or Warine de Metz known afterwards as "Guy le Strange"

* Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd was given the manor of Ellesmere and Hales by King Henry II of England in 1177.
* Joan, Princess of Wales, illegitimate daughter of King John of England, was married to Llywelyn the Great and given Ellesmere as a wedding gift in 1205.
* Oliver Ingham born 1287 and his wife Elizabeth Zouche, born 1282 whos daughter Joan married Lord John le Strange. Oliver became Sheriff of Cheshire.
* Griffin Kynaston - seneschal of the Lordship of Ellesmere - born Stocks, c1400
* Sir Francis Kynaston the poet - was born in the town in 1587.
* Thomas Telford - lived in Ellesmere during construction of Llangollen Canal
* Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere & Duke of Ellesmere - Poet & patron of the arts - born c1800
* Eglantyne Jebb - British social reformer and founder of Save the Children - born 1846
* The family of Charles de Gaulle, born 1890, lived in the nearby village of Dudleston Heath (Criftins) during World War 2.

ee also

* Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses NNR
* Ellesmere Canal
* Earl of Ellesmere
* Duke of Sutherland


* Remfry, P.M., "Whittington Castle and the families of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Peverel, Maminot, Powys and Fitz Warin" (ISBN 1-899376-80-1)

External links

* [http://www.cpat.org.uk/projects/longer/histland/maelor/msadmini.htm Maelor Saesneg - The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust]
* [http://www.virtual-shropshire.co.uk/gallery/ellesmere Ellesmere Photos]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=3750916 photos of Ellemere and surrounding area on geograph.org.uk]
* [http://homepage.mac.com/philipdavis/English%20sites/3107.html Ellesmere castle]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/panoramic/ellesmere/index.shtml BBC panoramic view of mere]
* [http://www.ls.u-net.com/le_Strange/Legend.htm 'The Romance of Fouk le fitz Warine' an epic tale involving Mellett de Ellesmere]
* [http://www.ellesmerecarnival.com Ellesmere Carnival]
* [http://www.ellesmerecc.btik.com Ellesmere Cricket Club]
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=39933 British History online - Knights Hospitallers and the preceptory of Halston]

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