Pilleth, a few miles south of Knighton in Powys, is a tiny rural community consisting of just a handful of dwellings and farms. It is a tranquil corner of Radnorshire that is steeped in history.
Pilleth is the site of the ancient church and holy well of St Mary’s which stands on Bryn Glas Hill overlooking the beautiful Lugg valley as the river winds its way to Presteigne, five miles away.
Pilleth was also the location of one of the most important battles in Welsh history, when, in 1402, the Welsh forces of Owain Glyndwr, ‘Prince of Wales’, defeated the English forces of Edmund Mortimer, Lord of the March. In the 19th century, a burial ground of many killed in the battle was discovered on the hillside and four Wellingtonia trees were planted to mark the site which is now a well-known landmark.
The earliest reference to Pilleth is in the Doomsday Book, where it is noted as Pilelei. Described as ‘one of the most haunting and evocative places in Wales’, Pilleth has probably been a place of worship since early Celtic Christian times and the church and holy well, reputed to have healing properties for the eyes, in particular, are sought out as a place of pilgrimage.
In 2002-04 the church underwent a major programme of restoration, made possible by a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and by the generosity and hard work of a great many people. The Friends of Pilleth was formed to help raise funds for the restoration of St Mary’s and now hold fund-raising events to support the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the restored church. The Friends of Pilleth welcome your active support.
The church receives hundreds of visitors a year and it is used for a full programme of services, quiet days and community events.