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Gerald of Wales

places mentioned

Book II, Ch. 13: Ludlow and Hereford

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Of the journey by Wenloch, Brumfeld, the castle of Ludlow, and Leominster, to Hereford

From Shrewsbury, we continued our journey towards Wenloch, by a narrow and rugged way, called Evil-street, where, in our time, a Jew, travelling with the archdeacon of the place, whose name was Sin (Peccatum), and the dean, whose name was Devil, towards Shrewsbury, hearing the archdeacon say, that his archdeaconry began at a place called Evil-street, and extended as far as Mal-pas, towards Chester, pleasantly told them, "It would be a miracle, if his fate brought him safe out of a country, whose archdeacon was Sin, whose dean the devil; the entrance to the archdeaconry Evil-street, and its exit Bad-pass."

From Wenloch, we passed by the little cell of Brumfeld,180 the noble castle of Ludlow, through Leominster to Hereford leaving on our right hand the districts of Melenyth and Elvel; thus (describing as it were a circle) we came to the same point from which we had commenced this laborious journey through Wales.

During this long and laudable legation, about three thousand men were signed with the cross; well skilled in the use of arrows and lances, and versed in military matters; impatient to attack the enemies of the faith; profitably and happily engaged for the service of Christ, if the expedition of the Holy Cross had been forwarded with an alacrity equal to the diligence and devotion with which the forces were collected. But by the secret, though never unjust, judgment of God, the journey of the Roman emperor was delayed, and dissensions arose amongst our kings. The premature and fatal hand of death arrested the king of Sicily, who had been the foremost sovereign in supplying the holy land with corn and provisions during the period of their distress. In consequence of his death, violent contentions arose amongst our princes respecting their several rights to the kingdom; and the faithful beyond sea suffered severely by want and famine, surrounded on all sides by enemies, and most anxiously waiting for supplies. But as affliction may strengthen the understanding, as gold is tried by fire, and virtue may be confirmed in weakness, these things are suffered to happen; since adversity (as Gregory testifies) opposed to good prayers is the probation of virtue, not the judgment of reproof. For who does not know how fortunate a circumstance it was that Paul went to Italy, and suffered so dreadful a shipwreck? But the ship of his heart remained unbroken amidst the waves of the sea.


180 It appears that a small college of prebendaries, or secular canons, resided at Bromfield in the reign of king Henry I.; Osbert, the prior, being recorded as a witness to a deed made before the year 1148. In 1155, they became Benedictines, and surrendered church and lands to the abbey of St. Peter's at Gloucester, whereupon a prior and monks were placed there, and continued till the dissolution. An ancient gateway and some remains of the priory still testify the existence of this religious house, the local situation of which, near the confluence of the rivers Oney and Teme, has been accurately described by Leland.

Gerald of Wales, The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales (Oxford, Mississippi, 1997)

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