We begin our wander around Shrewsbury at Abbey Foregate. It’s easy to park and access from the ring road and a great walk across English Bridge over the River Severn. Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire and it’s had quite a few battles and skirmishes being the border county and so close to Wales. The town has a population of around 70,000, so it’s not large and has retained many of its historic buildings and charm. In fact, it has an incredible 660 listed buildings. Shrewsbury has an English and Welsh bridge over the Severn, as the town is built in a loop of the river which rises in the Welsh mountains.
This plaque sits on the English Bridge. Following a dry spell the Severn is fairly low but the photo below shows how fast the waters can rise.
Just across the Severn we begin to climb Wyle Cop towards the town centre. Shrewsbury retains wonderful medieval place names – Dog Pole, Fish Street and Mardol among others. The image below is taken at Tanners wine merchants. This is a locked room. You need a key to reach £600 bottles of red.
A little way up Wyle Cop is this house where the plaque informs us Henry Tudor – soon to be Henry VII – slept on his way to fight Richard III at Bosworth Field. We also visited Shrewsbury Museum which is excellent and well worth a look. A post elsewhere on this blog details the recent Ladybird exhibition. There is currently a display of art by Damien Hirst, Banksy, Tracy Emin and others. The museum has a section on local history which detailed why the town has retained so many of its buildings. Shrewsbury boomed with flax mills and of course agriculture, but was late to the railway boom and its industrial bubble burst quickly. So, many of the wonderful Tudor buildings were not lost by redevelopment as in other English towns.
This is the view along Fish Street towards St Julian’s. The house on the right of the pic is available for rental/stays and was preached in by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley in 1761.
Fish St is a peaceful cut-through with two churches – St Julian’s and St Alkmund’s – and plenty of pubs, including the Three Fishes nearby.
That’s a proper door, for a fist in chainmail to rap on a winter’s night. Below, the Old Market Hall is a wonderful structure in The Square. There is a statue of Clive of India and the museum close by. We stopped at The Loft in Market Street for coffee and fantastic flapjack and chocolate sponge.
We liked these recoat ragdolls in the museum. Shropshire is rightly proud of General Rowland Hill who served with distinction in the Peninsular War and under Wellington’s command at Waterloo.
Just off Mardol, near the town centre, Shrewsbury boasts another piece of serious heritage – a Wimpy. Yes, later on, we stopped for great cheeseburgers.
This carved beast was found on a shopfront in Mardol (leading down to Welsh bridge). A little further on is the King’s Head. It’s an incredible thought to sup beer in a pub built in 1404 and wonder at how many problems have been shared and moans voiced about Shrewsbury Town results or supplies of arrows or fish.
There are great river views from the English and Welsh bridges and also the footbridge built in the late 1970s which crosses the river from the town to the Severn Theatre.
Shrewsbury is well worth staying for a few days and exploring, as is the rest of Shropshire, particularly Hawkstone Park and also the hills in the south of the county. But, even a few hours – we managed five – are rewarding.