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Soulton's History 


This is a stub in Soulton's History

Sir Rowalnd Hill

The manor of Soulton is ancient: in Saxon days, it was owned by Beorhtric, brother to the last Earl of Mercia (son-in-law of King Ethelred the Unready).

Parts of current manor house date back to the 1400s, while in the grounds are the remains of a norman castle.  

In terms of the current buildings however, Sir Rowland Hill (pictured) is very important.  He had the current manor house built in 1556.

He was origianlly from Shropshire, and was born c. 1495 in Hodnet, only a few miles away.  Like Dick Whittington (also a local) he went to London to seek his fortune.  

Henry VIII and Parliamentary Privilage

He rose to be one of the richest commoners in  Henry VIII's England, and was a creditor to the king.  

He was an highly principled man, and, during his term as mayor took on corruption, even in high places.  He was noted as:


A Foe to Vice, and a vehement Corrector,


A prudent Perfson, all Truth supporting


A Citizen sage, and worthy Counsellor. A Lover of Wisdom, of Justice a Furtherer:
Loe, here he lyeth, Sir Rowland, by name,
Of Lodnon, lateLord-Mayo, and Alderman of Fam

A friend to Vertue, a Lover of Learning,

A Foe to Vice, and a vehement Corrector,

A prudent Perfson, all Truth supporting

A Citizen sage, and worthy Counsellor.

A Lover of Wisdom, of Justice a Furtherer:

Sir Rowland, by name,Of Lodnon, late Lord-Mayor, and Alderman of Fame.

Owing to his robust sense of right and wrong, he was breifly sent to the Tower of London in 1542.  The inccident is still seen as an important moment in the development of the English constitution, and the foundation of Parliamentary Privilage.  

In recognition of his having being wronged he was kighted two months later.

Coup d'éta: Fall of Somerset's Protectorate

Sir Rowland was made the 'first' Protestant Lord Mayor of London in 1549.  

King Edawrd VI -- 11 years old -- was 2 years in to his reign.  The young king had a regency, headed by his uncle, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset.  The Protectorate fell in 1549, when Somerset's rival, Northumberland, caused the Council to indict Somerset.  

The young King and Somerset were forced to retreat to Windsor Castle.  Somerset's last despairing act was to write to Hill emploring him to send troops.  Hill declined, and the Protectorate fell.  

Bloody Mary and Retreat to Shropshire

The sheer paranoia of the reformation is easily overlooked (those seeking to get a sense of this might consider the fiction of C. J. Sanson) -- and, when Mary came to the thrown Sir Rowland returned to Shropshire, bought Soulton.  There were probably reasons of survival and principle behind this: as a leading protestant he was in danger, and, if he wanted to keep a leading status, we was going to be asked to persecute his fellow Protestants, against his values.  So he setteled quietly in Shropshire: and maybe expressed his desire for safety and stability in the symbolism of hs home.  

He was a serious philanthropist.  In 1555 he established a school at Market Drayton in Shropshire. He was also closely involved with the establishment of the London hospitals. He was the president of Bridewell and Bethlem hospitals from 1557 to 1558 and again between 1559 and 1561, and he held the post of surveyor-general of the London hospitals from 1559 until his death. When he died there was a dole paid to the poor of London.

There is a statue of him on nearby Hawkston Park and Follies (see below).  

The Museum of London and the Mercer's Company have original portraits, and we have a copy of one of those here.  

Further information

More inofmration can be found with:

01939 232786
Soulton Hall, Soulton, Nr. Wem, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 5RS