Some History Presteigne and Norton

Several books have been written about Presteigne and the surrounding area. Titles include -

A History of Presteigne: K. Parker

Presteigne Past and Present: W. Howse

Radnorshire, A Historical Guide: D. Gregory

Radnorshire from Above: C. Musson

There is also a popular facebook page : Presteigne History Project


The Presteigne Sleeping Dragon 2014-2018 -

A sleeping dragon was chosen for the memorial of the centenary of the Frist World War instead of the heraldic Welsh dragon that we all know and love. The reasoning for this is that the traditional Welsh dragon has a very “up front” attitude with an aggressive stance and unflattering sharp lines, most suitable in war. The Welsh dragon flying on its standard would have raised the morale of any Welshman fighting for what he believed in. Sadly, many a good Welshman died doing just that, sometimes in lands far off, sometimes for reasons too complex to reason with. Where ever and for whatever, Welshman have always been distinguished in battle. However, there is another side to all of this and that is the Welshman who sang and who is now silent, the Welshman who loved his valleys and hills but will never again walk there, the Welshman who told his children bedtime myths and tales of dragons in Wales. His legacy being the continuation of the culture of Wales. All so proud to be Welsh and all died so.

The Cromlech links us back many thousands of years in Welsh history to the Stone Age. Cromlechs usually have solar alignments attached to them and this Cromlech is set to align with the rising sun on the Equinox. The Cromlech itself is low enough for an adult and for a child raised up by an adult, to see and touch the dragon, giving the connectivity to reinforce the point of the memorial. A child raised up to touch the dragon thus, may not yet understand, but will remember and perhaps in time, understand. As time passes the dragon will hopefully develop a hand worn nose from the many hands that will gently stroke it. That human hand polished area, will shine in the sun as a testament to all those who have visited and touched the dragon and remembered. 

The dragon sleeping peacefully on its ancient stone was only a temporary installation for the four years duration of World War One. During those four years it was hoped by all involved with the dragon’s
creation that many people would come and see, touch and connect with the sleeping Welsh dragon and return home, somehow inexplicably enhanced by the experience. Perhaps there is some truth in the stories
of dragons, our sleeping Welshman left his children! 

The Dragon has now been removed and rests at the home of his creator, Pete Smith. A picture of the Dragon can be seen on the home page of this website as one of the alternating pictures at the head of the page.

Norton Church -

Norton is situated 2 miles north of Presteigne and the village church of St. Andrew was almost certainly Norman in origin with subsequent alterations and additions. The font is 15th. Century, the rood screen is 16th. Century and the belfry is 17th. Century. 

By the 1860,s the church had suffered considerable neglect and was falling into disrepair. Sir Richard Green-Price and his family moved to Norton Manor in 1861. He first enlarged the Manor and built a new vicarage in 1865. In 1866 he turned his attention to the church. At first he intened to just carry out repairs but he then called in the eminent architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott to carry out a programme of restoration. The church was re-opened in September 1868. A plate situated below the west window commemorates that event. Many of the memorials and much of the church furniture are dedicated to the Green-Price family. A guide to the church is available within the church.


Presteigne's Daffodils -

For a town of its population, Presteigne has bred an extraordinary number of new varieties of daffodil – 470. There were four breeders of the Narcissus here in the first half of the twentieth century – the golden age of daffodil breeding: Gwendolen Evelyn at Corton, Dr Nynian Lower at St David’s House, Alexander Wilson at Middlemoor and Sir John Arkwright at Kinsham Court. Presteigne’s doctor, Nynian Lower (1872-1926) had trained at Guy’s Hospital, London, and served as surgeon on British India steamer Rewa before settling at Presteigne. He bred 66 varieties from 1907- 26 including ‘Beauty of Radnor’, ‘Discoed’, ‘Norton’, ‘Presteigne’ and ‘Stapleton’ and was President of the Midland Daffodil Society (MDS) in 1923-4.

By far the most prolific of the four was Alexander (Alec) Wilson (1868-1953) who moved from Somerset to Middlemoor in 1918. In all he contributed an astonishing 371 varieties, including the well-known ‘Snipe’ with swept back petals. Many have local names: ‘Ackhill’, ‘Bledfa’ [sic], ‘Broadheath’, ‘Byton’, ‘Coleshill’, ‘Cwm’, ‘Felindre’, ‘Harpton’, ‘Knill’, ‘Lingen’, ‘Ludlow’ (white), ‘Monaughty’, ‘Nash’, ‘Pilleth’, ‘Stocken’ and ‘Stonecote’. Wilson was a great benefactor to Presteigne (Wilson’s Terrace) and he donated bulbs for each of the town’s new council houses.

Sir John Arkwright (1872-1954) began breeding daffodils in 1919. Between 1930 and 1938 he contributed nineteen to the Royal Horticultural Society’s register, most of them notable for the contrasting colours of their trumpet and petals. He was President of the MDS in 1937-39. His stock patch still comes up annually in the lawn at Kinsham and 60 varieties have been recorded in the grounds. Miss Evelyn (d1949) had grown up at Kinsham Court and was the niece of Arkwright’s wife. From 1927-33 she contributed thirteen new varieties, four of them collaborations with Wilson.

Unfortunately, most of Presteigne’s introductions will have been lost by now. Unless they had significant commercial appeal and were taken up by the Dutch growers (like Wilson’s ‘Carbineer’), as improvements were made with each new cross, the parent varieties were usually cast aside and the next generation used as new parent plants. If used in gardens, unless careful notes of their location were kept, they will now be unknown.

Both Miss Evelyn and Alec Wilson harvested flowers for commercial sale, too. Harry Hatfield (later, Presteigne’s greengrocer) managed Miss Evelyn’s crop, and after her death he continued to raise daffodils in Presteigne. Lane Walker oversaw Wilson’s enterprise at Middlemoor, and afterwards grew his own blooms on ten acres at Broadaxe, Presteigne. The flowers of both growers were picked and bunched by local ladies and dispatched in wooden crates on the overnight train from Presteigne Station to Paddington, London. There they were met by an agent who oversaw their safe delivery to Covent Garden market. The closure of the local railway line in 1964 didn’t just make travel more difficult, it also killed off a colourful contributor to the local economy.

©Catherine Beale Information produced in collaboration with members of Chatterbrook WI. For a full account of these breeders, reproduced from Hortus, please see