Visit Shrewsbury and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Shrewsbury,Shropshire,is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the country with much for the visitor to see.
It came into being when the inhabitants of Wroxeter - the Roman town of Viroconium - were seeking a more easily defended place to live during the uneasy years which followed the departure of the Roman legions in the 5th century. Five miles West of Wroxeter they chose a near-island of rising ground in a loop of the Severn which met their needs; there is no doubt that they carried some of the stone from their former home to help to build the new settlement. The name Shrewsbury is believed to have come into use during the 8th century when the town became part of the kingdom of Mercia - and has nothing to do with the tiny mammal or a scolding woman. Scropesbyrig, or Scrobbesbyrig, the Anglo-Saxon name, probably meant the borough or fortified place of a man called Scrobb. The county name Shropshire comes from this old form.
When the Normans arrived, Roger de Montgomery was quick to appreciate that the narrow neck of land in the North East corner, where the Severn almost knots its loop, was a natural site for a castle and there he built one. The castle remains which can be viewed today, however, date more probably from the time of Henry II, about 100 years after the Conquest; and the building was further enlarged another 100 years later by Edward I. It had fallen into grave disrepair when, in 1790, the engineer and architect, Thomas Telford, refurbished it as a private house for Sir William Pulteney. Laura's Tower, named after Sir William's wife, commemorates Telford's work; the gateway, the postern gate and the main hall pay tribute to the earlier builders.
The largest church of the Shrewsbury skyline is St Mary's and its fine stone spire is one of the three tallest in England. Built about 1200, the nave arcades, of noble proportions, the south porch and the south transept are all of that date. The beautifully carved nave roof is 15th-century. The plentiful stained glass is reckoned the finest in Shropshire; the Jesse window in the chancel is especially rich in colour. The other major spire belongs to St Alkmund's, built in the late 18th century on the site of a medieval church. This, too, has good stained glass: an east window which is an adaptation by Francis Egginton of Birmingham of Rem's Assumption of the Virgin. The most unusual-looking of the town's churches is St Chad's which stands in a commanding position above the river. It has an oddly shaped tower, its top half a kind of minaret crowned with a dome; the nave is circular - one of the very few round churches in the country.
Many of Shrewsbury's old buildings have been pulled down over the years to make way for new: the railway station is a notable example of Victorian Gothic while the new Shirehall and Law Courts, opened in 1967, and the Mardol Block, housing the market hall, are interesting examples of post-war architecture. But much that is old still remains. Gullet Passage and Grope Lane exemplify the bizarre alley and street-names hereabouts and have changed little from the days of Elizabeth I: quaint, narrow passage-ways over which the leaning upper stories almost meet.
There are many fine timber-framed houses to be seen. Wyle Cop is especially rich in them - Owen's Mansion, the Plough Inn, the Cross Keys Inn and Ireland's Mansion. Another notable black-and-white structure is the Abbot's House at the top of Butcher Row, which dates from about 1450; the shops at ground level are original and retain the wide oak sills on which the medieval shopkeepers displayed their wares. Yet another is Rowley's House, situated in the centre of the bus station; it is now a museum, open to the public, housing finds from Wroxeter. Here can be seen the silver mirror once used by a Roman officer's wife, and her toilet requisites, trinkets and ornaments together with scores of other objects from the excavations at Wroxeter. The town's main museum and art gallery occupy what were the original buildings of Shrewsbury School, opposite the entrance to the castle. These buildings with an embattled tower look rather like a three-story church and date from 1598; in the garden in front is a bronze statue of one of the school's most famous old boys, the great 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin. In the art gallery is a permanent exhibition of Shropshire landscapes.
Boats may be hired for rowing or paddling along the river to see aspects of Shrewsbury denied to the viewer on foot. Certainly the river offers the best views of the two main bridges, the English and the Welsh.
Shrewsbury in fact has a bookful of sights, and mention must also be made of Pugin's fine Roman Catholic cathedral; the Lord Hill Column, just shorter than Nelson's in Trafalgar square; the Guildhall; the Watch Tower; and the Whitehall. From our times there is the castle footbridge of 1951, the first of its kind, concrete and cantilever, to be built in this country. Finally there is an old malting house in the suburb of Ditherington, built in 1796 and the oldest surviving iron-framed building in the world.
Nearby towns: Church Stretton, Market Drayton, Much Wenlock, Oswestry, Wellington, Welshpool, Wem, Whitchurch
Nearby villages: Acton Burnell, Albrighton, Atcham, Baschurch, Battlefield, Baystonhill, Bicton, Cardeston, Church Pulverbatch, Clive, Coalbrookdale, Condover, Cound, Cressage, Fitz, Frodesley, Great Ness, Grinshill, Guilsfield, Habberley, Hadnall, Halston, Hanwood, Harlescott, High Ercall, Kinnersley, Llanymynech, Little Ness, Meole Brace, Merrington, Minsterley, Moreton Corbet, Myddle, Pitchford, Plealey, Pontesbury, Preston Gubbals, Rodington, Ruyton of the Eleven, Shawbury, Shrawardine, Stanton upon Hine He, Upton Magna, Withington, Wroxeter, Yockleton, Yorton
Have you decided to visit Shrewsbury or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Shrewsbury bed and breakfast (a Shrewsbury B&B or Shrewsbury b and b)
- a Shrewsbury guesthouse
- a Shrewsbury hotel (or motel)
- a Shrewsbury self-catering establishment, or
- other Shrewsbury accommodation