Infobox UK place
latitude= 52.27436
longitude= -3.00536
country= Wales
official_name= Presteigne
welsh_name= Llanandras
unitary_wales= Powys
lieutenancy_wales= Powys
constituency_westminster= Brecon & Radnorshire
post_town= PRESTEIGNE
postcode_area= LD
postcode_district= LD8
dial_code= + 44 (0)1544
os_grid_reference= SO315645
population= 2191

Presteigne ( _cy. Llanandras; the church of St. Andrew) was the county town of the historic county of Radnorshire, Wales. It is in the county of Powys and Diocese of Hereford. Despite lying on a minor B Road the town has assumed the motto, "Gateway to Wales"

The town sits on the River Lugg, having nearby towns such as Kington and Knighton as neighbours, as well as surrounding villages like Norton and Stapleton

Presteigne is considered by Clive Aslet - editor at large of Country Life - to be one of Britain's top 10 small towns [cite web | author= Clive Aslet| title= The Daily Telegraph|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ]



The town probably began as a small settlement around a Minster church dedicated to St Andrew and at the time of the Domesday Book and formed part of the manor of Humet.

By the mid-12th century it was known as 'Presthemede' or 'the border meadow of the priests'. A century later, it passed into the control of the Mortimers, powerful Marcher lords, and on their fall passed into the hands of the Crown.

At the end of the 13th century, the majority of the town's inhabitants, mainly English, enjoyed some prosperity but the Black Death and the Glyndŵr rebellion had destroyed this and by the end of the 15th century, the now largely Welsh, population lived in a struggling village. A significant victory in their rebellion was won by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr nearby at the Battle of Bryn Glas in 1402.

The development of a thriving cloth industry in the Tudor period brought short-lived prosperity, ended by three new epidemics of plague in three successive generations. Thereafter it made a living as a market town and, until the later 16th century, by processing locally grown barley into malt.

By the Acts of Union, Presteigne - at first jointly with New Radnor - became the County Town of Radnorshire and its administrative and judicial centre, housing the county gaol and the Shire Hall.

By the end of the 19th century its newer and larger neighbour, Llandrindod Wells, had usurped the role of administrative centre, but Presteigne remained the venue for the Assizes until these were abolished in 1971.

After a period of stagnation in the first half of the 20th century, the town has developed a diverse manufacturing base [cite web | author=| title= Applegate|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] and has begun to exploit its tourism potential while its environment and the development of its social, cultural and leisure facilities have helped to attract people to settle [cite web | author=Keith Parker| title= BBC|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] .

Notable buildings

These include:
*The parish church, parts of which are Anglo-Saxon
*The Jacobean Radnorshire Arms hotel [cite web | author= | title= hotelSite|url=| accessdaymonth=01 September | accessyear=2008 ]
*The Judge's Lodgings, decorated in mid-Victorian style [cite web | author= | title= Official Site|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] .


Presteigne attracted national attention in 2004 for an unsuccessful campaign by its Mayoress, Peggy Fraser-Scott to enforce a curfew on the town's youth [cite web | author=| title= BBC|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] .

John Beddoes

Henry Edward's "Old English Customs: Curious Requests and Charities" mentions the bell-ringer appointed by John Beddoes in 1565 to ring a 'day bell' at 8am, and a curfew at 8pm. Beddoes specified that in the event of the custom being abandoned for more than a year, (except in plagues) the funds set aside for this position would revert to his heirs.

Beddoes - a wool merchant - also gave his name to Presteigne's secondary school - John Beddoes School - which he established in 1565, and endowed with land.

World War 2

During the 1930s, the Ministry of Labour opened a work camp for long-term unemployed young men. Many of the inmates came from the crisis-hit coal mining, steel and heavy industry communities of South Wales. Presteigne was one of a number of Instructional Centres created by the Ministry, and it also had a satellite camp in Shobdon, Herefordshire. By 1938, the Ministry had 38 Instructional Centres across Britain. The camp was situated in Slough Lane near Hill Farm and is now a small private housing site. Land owned by Capt Lewis RN, of Clatterbrune House, was used to hold first Italian and then German POW's during the Second World War and is now the home of Presteigne St. Andrews Football Club.

Public transport


Veolia_Transport_Cymru provide several journey opportunities (Monday to Saturday) to Kington with connections from there to Hereford on services operated by Sargeants, and buses in the opposite direction to Knighton. A once daily service from Ludlow to Builth Wells is also operated via Presteigne. Lugg Valley Travel provide bus links to Leominster.


The Kington & Presteigne Railway opened on 9 September 1875. The railway line commenced at Titley, passed through Leen farm, to Stanton-upon-Arrow, in front of the Rodd farm via Corton into Presteigne [cite web | author=| title= Kington Town Site|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] [cite web | author=| title= Google Mapping - route of the Kington & Presteigne Railway|url=,-2.973518&spn=0.068421,0.179901&z=13| accessdaymonth=01 June | accessyear=2008 ] . By 1929 it was possible to join one of the three steam trains a day - each way - and make the 6 hour journey to London. The passenger service on this line ended in 1951, but a freight service continued to run every other day until the line was finally closed for good in 1961 [cite web | author=| title= Herefordshire County Council|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] . The line lives on as a video [cite web | author=| title= B & R Videos|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] and as a model railway! [cite web | author=| title= The Radnor Branch Line|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] .

Notable residents

*Famous Royal Naval Captain Peter Puget and his contemporary; Captain Joseph Baker, another famous naval officer and map-maker
*Sir Christopher Hatton a courtier of Queen Elizabeth I and possibly a lover of the Virgin Queen too.
*Nineteenth century pencil sketcher and watercolour artist J M Ince [cite web | author=| title= History, Powys|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ]
*Mary Morgan. Notorious victim - in 1805 - of a misogynistic miscarriage of justice [cite web | author=| title= History, Powys|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] .
*Noted local historian Keith Parker [cite web | author=| title= The Presteigne Official Site|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ]
*Grand Prix motorcycle racer Chaz Davies born in Presteigne in 1987.
*The leading bowls player and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, Robert Weale was raised and educated in the town.

Art and culture

The town has become a local cultural centre. It hosts 2 indigenous festivals. First, the oddly named Sheep Music Festival dedicated to contemporary music [cite web | author=| title=Sheep Music|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] ; and the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts [cite web | author=| title=Presteigne Festival|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] which casts a broader cultural net. It attracts composers of the calibre of Ian Wilson.The town is fortunate to have an award winning museum - the "Judges Lodgings" [cite web | author=| title=The Judges Lodgins|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ] .The Church of St Andrew permanently houses a 16th century Flemish Tapestry.Presteigne was also host to the World's first competitive electric bicycle race [cite web | author=| title= The Daily Telegraph|url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007] Finally, the town has inspired twelve songs for voice and piano - "A Garland for Presteigne" [cite web | author=| title=Amazon |url=| accessdaymonth=19 February | accessyear=2007 ]


* Field, J. "Learning Through Labour: Training, unemployment and the state, 1890-1939", University of Leeds, 1992, ISBN 0-900-960-48-5 (work camps)
* Parker, K. " A History of Presteigne" (1977) [ Amazon link]
* Parker, K. "Radnorshire from Civil War to Restoration: A Study of the County and Its Environs 1640-60 in a Regional Setting" (2000) [ Amazon Link]


External links

* [ Presteigne and Norton Website]
* [ BBC mini-site]
* [ Useful local information and maps showing historical sites in the area]
* [ Local business directory]
* [ Presteigne Baptist Church website]
* [ Photographs on Geograph]
* [ Green Presteigne Wiki]

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