The French have a word for places like Montgomery, it is profonde. Mention France profonde and a frenchman's eyes glaze over as he conjures up pictures of a bee loud summer day say, deep in the countryside of the Loire valley. Montgomery, and other towns on the Welsh Marches give the impression, on a hot summers day, of being situated in an enormous green rolling sofa with an abundance of cushions. The comparison with France comes from the word Marches which is an old French word for frontier and was probably coined by the Norman conquerors.
Montgomery is 21 miles from Shrewsbury and used to be the county town of Montgomeryshire until the shire was gobbled up by the upstart county of Powys. It is a small town but don't let the townsfolk hear you call it a village. If they do you will be probably hounded out of town. Montgomery lies under a hill on which stand the ruins of Montgomery Castle which now belong to Cadw. It was one of a string of castles built along the Marches on what was once the most militarised area of the British Isles.
The name comes from the Norman Lord Montgomery who was given the lands by William 1st after his conquest in 1066. The Lord came from Montgomery in the Pays d'Auge in France. After that it changed hand between England and Wales quite often with the Welsh hero, Owain Glyn Dwr, being implicated sometime in the 15th century. Soon afterward the English decided to demolish the castle and many of the older houses are built of stones from the former castle.
Within five miles of Montgomery there are several Iron age hill forts, a large Roma fort which was probably called Lavobrinta and one Welsh and two Norman castles.
Because of its county town status Montgomery has some fine buildings including an old jail, a fine market square, houses which appear Georgian (they are actually older but have Georgian faades, and many fine examples of the half timbered black and white magpie houses. There are five pub and the Dragon has the reputation of serving good food and beer.
Thursday is market day when the former Town Hall becomes home to a greengrocers with home grown produce. On Saturday the greengrocer share the premises with a charity shop. The hall is used for dinners, dances, parties and discos.
Unemployment is low in Montgomery and many work in the nearby towns of Shrewsbury, Welshpool and Oswestry. Visitors are an important source of income for the town.
Community spirit is good with many clubs and events. A local society says that the folks of Mongomery are neither Celts or Saxons and suggests if you cross a Celt with a Saxon you get a Claxon.
Montgomery, along with other towns on the Welsh Marches, such as Chirk, Oswestry, Presteigne, Kington, Monmouth and Chepstow, lie like a string of pearls close to Offa's Dyke through this soft, rolling English/Welsh countryside.
Serviced accommodation - hotels and B&Bs
Farmhouse B&B at Berriew near Welshpool
Sleeps 1 to 6, 3 bedrooms – £30 to £40 per nightFull Details
Country house hotel at Montgomery, Mid Wales
10 Bedrooms – £80 to £245 per night
Set in 290 acres of parkland, surrounded by the hills of the Welsh Marches. The relaxed and informal atmosphere fully compliment the hotel's fine interior, stunning location and excellent cuisine. Mellington Hall is a venue to remember. Distance 3.6 miles.Full Details