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Clun in 1841

Clun is in the hundred of Purslow, on the western side of the county of Shropshire. The population of the parish in 1831 was 1,996. The parish, which is very extensive, contains the townships of Clun, Edeclift, Hobendrid, and Newcastle. It derives its name from that of the river which waters it, the Colun, or Clun. The district in which Clun is situated was formerly considered part of Wales ; and the borough was of sufficient importance, in the age immediately succeeding the Norman Conquest, to confer a title on the celebrated family of Fitz-Alan of Clun. William Fitz-Alan, in the reign of Henry II, obtained a charter for a fair here. Leland describes this place as a pretty market-town, but as having at that time declined in importance. The ruins of the castle are situated on the banks of the stream. It was built by William Fitz-Alan in the reign of Henry III, and continued in his family, the earls of Arundel, down to the reign of Elizabeth, when the last earl died. By the marriage of Henry Fitz-Alan with one of the Howards of Norfolk, the castle became vested in that family ; from them it passed to the Walcots, and afterwards to Lord Clive, whose descendants now possess it ; but the dukes of Norfolk still retain the title of Baron of Clun.

The size and appearance of Clun are so insignificant as only to rank it as a town by virtue of its being a borough and possessing a good weekly market. The borough is precisely coextensive with the township. There is a tradition of the existence of a charter granted by some of the earls of Arundel, lords marchers of Wales, but its possession cannot now be traced. There are two bailiffs, a recorder, and two serjents-at-mace. The burgesses are 24 in number. The bailiffs are elected by the burgesses at large, and the practice has been to appoint them by rotation. The recorder has always in practice been appointed by the lord of the manor. Freedom is obtained by birth and by election. The only privilege is exemption from tolls at the fairs. The only court now held is the Civil Court of Record for the trial of causes to an unlimited amount ; but the business is very trifling, and no instance is known of a cause proceeding to trial. The court is held before the bailiffs, assisted by the recorder, every third Wednesday.

There are three fairs, two of which are chartered, and the weekly market is now well attended.

The living is a vicarage, of the yearly value of £680. The patron is the Earl of Powis, who is the impropriator of the recorial tithes. The Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists have places of worship here. An hospital for the support of 13 old men was founded (1607) by the Earl of Northampton, who endowed it with land, and subsequently, by will, with the fee-farm rents of the rectories of Clun and Bishop’s Castle, and with the rectories of Knighton and Church Stoke. The present income of the hospital, arising from these and other sources, is upwards of £1,500 pounds a year. The hospital consists of a warden and 14 poor men, two having been added about 1786. The warden has a salary of £80 per annum, and each of the hospitallers has two or three rooms, a small garden, and 10 shillings per week. The nominators are the steward of the lordship of Clun, the parson of Hopesay, vicar, bailiffs, and churchwardens of Clun and of Bishop’s Castle, and the warden of the hospital. The hospital is a neat quadrangular building with a large garden in front.

There are two daily and Sunday schools here. In one, commenced in 1831, are 80 children of both sexes daily, and 120 on Sundays ; it is connected with the Wesleyan Methodists. The other school contains about 110 children daily, and 150 on Sundays, and is supported by subscriptions from the vicar and the parish generally.

The various claims and disputes respecting the right of common on the adjoining hills known as Clun Forest, caused an act of parliament to be passed in 1837 for enclosing this tract, which Leland describes as being in his time ‘a great forest of red deere and roes, longing to the lords of Arundel.'