Walking the Shropshire Way around Shrewsbury will be a delight of old routes, ancient buildings and over 1000 years of history.
Town paths and grassland
Parking is available in Shrewsbury
Lat/Long: 52.6861795795, -2.763891713
Shrewsbury the black and white town
Scrobbesbyrig to the Saxons, the county town of Shropshire is first mentioned in a charter of 901. Shrewsbury is stunning historic town with over 660 listed buildings, narrow passages, steep lanes and some very strange street names – Dogpole and Mardol, Gullet Passage, Bear Steps and Grope Lane. It’s also a town where you should look up! The ground level shop fronts are modern but many of the upper floors are the original black and white timber framed buildings. The Shropshire Way here follows routes that lead you into town along the River Severn’s banks or along the green Rea Brook valley. How many towns can boast such green highways into the heart of the town?
Also explore the wonderful shuts and passages – a maze of building overhung narrow passages that criss-cross between streets little changed for 1000 years. Churches abound and St Mary’s boasts a wonderful 15th century carved roof, a 14th century Jesse window and one of the tallest spires in England. It is from this spire that a showman Robert Cadman who attempted to slide from it, head first, using a rope and a grooved breastplate. The attempt failed and a plaque on the wall is his obituary.
There is a great meander in the River Severn where it is forced to loop around high ground; it is this that led to the formation of the town and the building of the castle. With river in three sides and a narrow high spit it was easily defendable. Originally a timber Anglo-Saxon fortification then the red sandstone castle that was built by Roger de Montgomery in about 1070 but little survives from this era. Most of what is seen today dates from a rebuilding and strengthening in about 1300 by Edward 1 when an outer bailey and town walls were added.
It has seen few battles apart from being successfully besieged by King Stephen in 1138. In 1403 it garrisoned the army of Henry IV before the battle of Shrewsbury where he defeated “Harry Hotspur”, Percy, Duke of Northumberland.
Shrewsbury Abbey church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was founded in 1083 as a Benedictine monastery by Roger de Montgomery the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury. It grew to be one of the most important and influential abbeys in England and an important center of pilgrimage. Although much of the Abbey was destroyed in the 16th century, and later by Thomas Telford when he created the A5 Trunk road, the nave survived as a parish church and today serves as the mother church for the Parish of Holy Cross, and the civic church of Shrewsbury. In the graveyard look for the memorial to Wilfred Owen the great World War 1 soldier poet.
Shrewsbury is also proud of its most famous son; Charles Darwin was born here on the 12th of February 1809. Educated at Shrewsbury school, now the library, where there is an impressive statue of him he went on to University at Edinburgh and Cambridge and became a gentleman naturalist and geologist. It was after a five year trip to the Galapagos on HMS Beagle in that his curiosity was aroused by the differences between animal species and fossils found on the many islands. Eventually in 1859 he published his then controversial book “On the Origin of Species”, the rest is history.