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A traveller approaching Lingen from Wigmore will cross Deerfold and look down on the village set snugly in the hills at the south end of a wide valley running north to Leintwardine.
Lingen, about 7 miles southeast of Knighton, was included in the Shropshire section of the Domesday Book (1086) and it is of interest that the community does not appear to have varied greatly in numbers since that time. As the raising of sheep and cattle are still the principal local occupations, the essential nature of the village has not changed much either. There is now a large alpine nursery as a modern innovation and centre of interest.
Little is known of Lingen Castle, the motte only being plainly visible behind the Court House Farm. Originally retainers of the Mortimers of Wigmore, the Lingen family owned the village from 1256 to 1583 when the estate was confiscated by the crown, to be restored under James I and finally sold in 1685, cutting the family connection with the village.
Ralph of Lingen founded the nunnery at Limebrook (approximately one mile from the village) in 1190, but today only one wall, overgrown with ivy, remains in this lovely secluded spot. Nearby, Limebrook Cottage (16th century) was no doubt built from materials from the priory, including moulded beams and a handsomely carved string to the staircase. Now the home of a herbalist, it is a happy thought that the healing mission of the nuns survives.
The nuns had originally lived on Deerfold, at the site of the present Chapel Farm (l5th century or earlier) and moved to Limebrook when the land was granted to them. Chapel Farm is also believed to have given sanctuary to Sir John Oldcastle for four years when he was wanted by the authorities for his support of the Lollards in the 1400s.
The church was burnt down and rebuilt in 1891. The old pews are early 16th century and scorch marks can be seen on some of them. In 1877, horse chestnuts were planted around the churchyard and 100 years later the WI planted a red maple to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
The Methodist chapel was opened in 1877 with a splendid ceremony, culminating in a tea for nearly 400 people, some travelling from as far away as Ludlow, a considerable distance in the days of foot and horse travel.
The majority of houses in the village are old and give a good idea of how self-contained life was here until recent times. The Gisborne family were local benefactors who lived at Lingen Hall for several generations from the reign of Victoria to the 1940s when the estate was broken up. By the stream is the wheelwright's house, where it is still remembered wagons were left in the water to swell up the wood. Next to the church to the west was the forge and next door the old school, which became the village shop when the Victorian school opened, but is now a private house.
The Tan House, Wigmore Road, was where the cobbler plied his trade and Brook House was the home of the Mellings family for 200 years - the village carters and carpenters, transporting all necessary supplies, coal, bricks, and furniture wherever required, by horse and cart. At Archer's Ford upstream, the stone knappers lived, breaking stones for both buildings and roads. Above their house, six lynchets (ridges from prehistoric ploughing) are clearly visible on the hillside and further up the brook was a mill, keeping the area supplied with flour and meal, but of this echo of the past, no trace is left.
Today The Royal George is the only inn, but in the days of no Sunday opening over the nearby Welsh Border, the Rose and Crown across the road joined in the resulting nourishing trade.
Possibly the oldest house of all is the Turn Farm (15th century), reputed to be a pound house, with the pound field over the road. It is said that the road passed in front of the farm at one time, emerging at the far end of the village.
In the hills above the village are the ruins of Willey Old Court, occupied by the Legge family at the time of the Civil War. Whilst Mr Legge was with his men gathering the harvest, Cromwell's soldiers, looking for the King, sacked the house and violated the womenfolk. Returning to find the reason for no lunchtime victuals for the harvesters, the master was outraged at what had happened, gathered his hands and gave chase. On overtaking the culprits, he killed their leader with a pitchfork. It is not known what happened next, but the pitchfork was a Legge family heirloom for several centuries.
At Willey Hall there is an ancient oak with a circumference of 26 ft, said to be at least 500 years old, possibly even 800. The Goat House Farm is the highest inhabited farmhouse in Herefordshire.
The village information above is taken from The Herefordshire Village Book, written by members of the Herefordshire Federation of Women's Institutes.
Since the books publication we unfortunately no longer have an alpine plant nursery and sheep and cattle farming are not the principal occupations of the present day villagers.