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A place of worship probably stood on Radnorshire’s lonely Bryn Glas hill near Knighton and Presteigne in Celtic times and there has been a Christian church here since perhaps the 5th century. In the Middle ages, Pilleth Church was a place of Pilgrimage where people paid reverence to a statue of the Virgin and sought ( as some still do) a cure for eye problems at the holy well, by the north wall. Pilleth is one of the few places in Wales to be mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Behind the church stand four fir trees, visible for miles around. They are Wellingtonia planted in the last century by local landowner, Sir Richard Green-Price, to mark the spot where he found the bones of some of the many soldiers slain at the battle of Pilleth on the 22nd June 1402. This was the last military victory of the Welsh over the English when Owain Glyndwr defeated Edmund Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore. The number of the dead was estimated in the thousands.
Dame Anna Child’s Endowed School, Whitton
Below St. Mary’s Church lies Pilleth Court, built in the reign of Henry VIII, where Anna Pryce was born. She married the wealthy Sir Lacon William Child of Shropshire.
Having no children and being ill in 1703, Dame Anna made her will, in which she remembered the children of her home parishes. Her first bequest was the sum of £500 to establish a school in nearby Whitton, a small village visible from the church. She also left provision for two apprentices from the locality to be placed in work, yearly, for ever.
For over 300 years, Dame Anna’s endowed school has flourished, providing education for about 70 primary pupils. It is run by Powys County Council, supported by parents, Governors and a body of trustees who administer the income from letting lands owned by the charity. Thus, the trustees continue to carry out Dame Anna’s wishes by ensuring that all income is applied for the benefit of young children.
Pilleth Castle or Castell Foel Allt
The earthworks at Pilleth known as Y Foel Allt may be a castle erected by Ralph Mortimer sometime after 1086. It lies on the Western edge of the Mortimer lands centred on Wigmore in Herefordshire. As late as 1341 it was known to be the residence of the dowager lady of Wigmore.