LONGNOR

AND PILSBURY CASTLE

Grid Ref: SK 089 650
Date 7 August 2005, 31 July 2008 and 13 Nov 2018

Village centre spacer The Grapes
Village Centre   The Grapes
Inn   Alley
The Horseshoe   Village Scene
Market hall   Pub sign
Market Hall Pediment   Crewe & Harpur Arms
church   the tower
Saint Bartholomew's Church   The Tower
the nave   St. Bertram
The Nave   Image of St. Bertram
Font   Memorial
Mediaeval Font   Grave of William Billinge

 

Longnor lies south east of Buxton on a ridge between the rivers Dove and Manifold. It is a popular centre for walkers and has four public houses. The Market Hall of 1873, now houses a shop and tea-room.

St. Bartholomew's dates mainly from 1780. It has a wide nave with no aisles and no separation between the nave and the chancel. There is a west gallery but formerly there were other galleries and new windows were put in to light them in 1812. The upper level of windows can no longer be seen from inside because of the ceiling. The font is believed to be Norman. There is a modern statue depicting St. Bertram at the east end of the nave. St. Bertram Shrine is at Ilam. He lived in the early 8th century and visited Ireland where he met and eloped with a princess. According to legend, he returned to Mercia and when his wife went into labour while travelling she took shelter in Thor's cave at Wetton while Bertram went for help. On his return both mother and child had been eaten by wolves. Bertram then devoted his life to Christianity and with his friend Guthac, established a cell at Crowland from which there developed Crowland Abbey. When Guthac died, in 714, (other sources give the date as 700) Bertram went to Stafford and later to Ilam.

William Billinge is one of Longnor's most celebrated sons. He lived to the age of 112 having been born in the village in 1679. The current gravestone is not the original but one made in 1903 as a copy of the original. The inscription reads:

In Memory of William Billinge who was born in a Cornfield at Fawfieldhead in this Parish in the Year 1679. At the age of 23 years he enlisted into His Majesty's Service under Sir George Rooke, and was at the taking of the Fortress of Gibraltar in 1704. He afterwards served under the Duke of Marlborough at the ever Memorable Battle of Ramillies fought on the 23rd of May 1706, where he was wounded by musket shot in the thigh. He afterwards returned to his native country and with manly courage defended his Sovereign's rights at the Rebellion in 1715 and 1745. He died within the space of 150 yards of where he was born and was interred here the 30th of January 1791 aged 112 years.

"Billited by Death I quartered here remain. When the trumpet sounds I'll rise and march again."

Arthur Mee records that the original verse at the end of the inscription was as follows:

Conquests I shared in many a dreadful scene
With matchless Marlboro and with brave Eugene
To peaceful quarters billeted am I,
And here forgetful of my labours lie
Let me alone awhile, asleep, not slain,
And when the trumpet sounds I'll march again.

Longnor School spacer Longnor
School   Village Scene in July 2008
Longnor chapel   Smithy Cottage
Chapel   Smithy Cottage
Longnor   Longnor Inn
Georgian House   Horseshoe Inn

 

Pilsbury Castle

Starting from Longnor, one can walk down the road to the tiny village of Crowdicote and then turn right along a bridle path to the site of Pilsbury Castle. This is in a very beautiful spot in the Dove Valley. The picture below shows the pointed summit of Chrome Hill on the horizon.

Pilsbury Castle occupied an area of high ground approximately 175 by 150 yards overlooking the River Dove, near the village of Pilsbury. The site was probably originally an Iron Age fortification before being used by the Normans. In early medieval times, the site would have been located along the River Dove routeway, and would also have overlooked a key crossing point. The Normans built motte-and-bailey castle. It is not clear exactly when it was built but it was soon after the Conquest. It may date from the time of the civil war known as the Anarchy, between 1135 and 1154, when the lord of the manor was Robert de Ferrers when he supported King Stephen while the neighbouring Earl of Chester supported Stephen's cousing, Matilda, the daughter of Henry I. An alternative idea is that the castle was slightly earlier from the time of Henry de Ferrers in the reign of King William. The castle was not long in use and may have been abandoned by the late 12th century. See the Wikipedia article on the castle

Pilsbury
Pilsbury Castle motte-and-bailey mound is on the left of the picture. Nov. 2018
Pilsbury
View from lower down on 13 Nov 2018

 

Sources:

The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin, 1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
The Old Parish Churches of Staffordshire, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, 1996, ISBN 1871731 25 8
The King's England, Staffordshire, by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton, London, first published in 1937.
Pamphlet on St. Bertram, available in the church for 20 pence.

 

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