Whether you are a “Shrew” or a “Shrow” (you will agree it’s an improvement on the Saxon name of Scrobbesbyrig) Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire offers and altogether gentler way of life.
Gentle yes, but not dull – for Shrewsbury’s medieval heritage is matched only by its independent shopping, fine food and the vibrancy of its culture.
Shrewsbury has been called “England’s finest Tudor town” with good reason, black and white properties are everywhere and with over 660 listed buildings (quite a list) all linked by ancient shuts or passageways.
On the Border of ales and England and surrounded almost entirely by the River Severn, Shrewsbury has been protected from the ravages of modern life.
Charles Darwin, perhaps the town’s greatest son, would still recognise much of modern Shrewsbury. His statue stands outside the library, erected by proud townsfolk in 1894 – even though at that time he was 6 Shrewsbury still considered a dangerous atheist.
hatever the merits of that particular debate, the opposing point of view is well represented in our many beautiful churches (St. Chad’s, a revolutionary design when it was built in 1792, is a major venue in our Darwin festival); and, of course, by Shrewsbury Abbey. This was one of the great monasteries, founded in 1083, and home to the (fictional) Brother Cadfael.
Its imposing Norman church survives – despite the attentions of our famous local engineer Thomas Telford, who, in a pre-Darwinian moment of madness, decided to run a major road through the west wing separating the font from the main building. The font still stands in splendid isolation on the other side of the road.
Pick a direction – any direction – and start walking. It won’t be long before you encounter the majestic River Severn (at which point we reccommend that you stop walking).
Take in the view. For the Severn is Shrewsbury’s glory, as well as its raison d’être. Along its banks lie gardens, meadows and the beautiful 29-acre parkland known as the Quarry.
Get on the water. Take a rowing boat, take a canoe or, less energetically take the River King criuse boat.
Back on dry land, take the Severn ay out of town and into the countryside. Or just let the river slip by from the garden of a waterside hostelry. Bliss
Shrewsbury - Photo by Brian Clift