History of Local Area

The Wyre Forest is situated at the toe of the foothills of the Welsh mountains, at the western extremity of the great north European plain, which stretches eastward across Russia to the Urals.  The area is part of the Welsh Marches, so called after the powerful Marcher Lords who during medieval times protected the western flank of England against the marauding Welsh.  It is an area of complex history and geology, separated from the fertile English lowlands by the broad swift flowing River Severn, the longest river in Britain, famous even then for it's Salmon and Elver fisheries.

An early ford of the river at Bewdley gave rise to an established ridgeway track during neolithic times through Kinlet to the Clee Hills over looking the Teme Valley at Ludlow, and close to this track several farms became established in Roman times along the ridge running south from Catsley Farm towards the smaller ford over Dowles Brook at Furnace Mill.  Now a popular spot for coarse fishing.

Following the Norman conquest of England, much of south Shropshire including the Wyre Forest was awarded to the Mortimer family, having previously been owned by Queen Edith, the power behind the thrones of both her husband King Edward the Confessor and brother King Harold Godwinson; and after the King and Archbishop of Canturbury, the wealthiest person in England prior to the conquest .  

Roe and Fallow Deer Live in the Forest (Photo by Ray's Farm)

During the medieval period the Wyre Forest (at the time technically a "Chase" until it's owner, Edward IV, acceded to the throne, when it became a "Forest" in the medieval sense of the word) became a centre for industries based on it's coppiced woodland and shallow easily worked coal deposits, both used locally for iron smelting.  A thriving industrial town grew up during this period at Kingswood in the centre of the forest, of which now only traces remain in the woods, fields and scattered small holdings surrounding Manor Holding.  But the forest was maintained by royal decree, with the then local squire being prosecuted by Queen  Elizabeth I for cutting too many trees.

Manor Holding was built, using second hand timbers, shortly afterwards.  And later improved after the Civil War, by the addition of glazed windows; possibly acquired during the relocation of Kinlet village by the new squire as he expanded the parkland setting for his much enlarged Kinlet Hall, which he rebuilt in the newly fashionable Georgian country house style.  It is now a private school.

Georgian Windows Overlook Fragrant Garden

Bewdley, established by the Mortimer family as a river port to service the forest industry at a point where river shallows prevented larger ships from proceeding further upstream, became a backwater when supplanted by Stourport, just downstream, on the opening of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal linking the River Severn to the Black Country.  Bewdley never regained its former glory despite the opening of the Severn Valley Railway a century later.

At the start of the industrial revolution industrial activity moved north and east, following the better quality coal in ever deeper  and less accessible seams, until the towns needed to support the mines grew to the size of cities, and their markets embraced the world.  Giving rise to the British Empire.

During the second world war the US Army 90th Infantry Division set up a temporary training camp close to Manor Holding in preparation for D-Day, when those who had trained here stormed Utah Beach.  Little visible  trace now remains of their camp, but much recycled material survives in surrounding properties.

Initially built for the head steward of a neighbouring farm, Manor Holding remained a tied cottage with the same farm, until purchased and restored by the current owners towards the end of the last century, following it's Grade II Listing by English Heritage.

Guest Comment

This has been a truly unforgettable and memorable experience. The silence is deafening and makes you imagine that you are really a long way back in time.

Lilian & Ted, York,


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