ROUTE 1 (INNER LOOP)
Leaving Claremont Hill and enter onto Barker Street. After a short distance you will see on your right a timber-framed building, this is:
1) Rowleys House and Mansion
This magnificent building, almost exclusively with vertical members, was built in 1591 by Roger Rowley, a rich draper, brewer and maltser. Adjoining it is the Mansion which was build by Roger’s son in 1618 and is reputedly the first brick mansion in the Town. Both buildings underwent extensive restoration in the 1930s.
Carrying on along Bridge Street you will arrive at:
2) The Welsh Bridge
This five-arch stone bridge was built by local stone-masons Carline and Tilley in 1792-95 at a cost of £6,600. The bed of the river having been dug out and levelled as far as practicable the foundations were an oak platform 12 inches thick with an oak kerbspiked around the first course of masonary. It replaced a massive and heavily fortified medieval St George’s Bridge giving access to the Town. Trows would have to pass under the bridge and in the centre of the parapet there remains part of the winching system to haul them through.
Leaving the bridge continue along the Smithfield Road which runs alongside the river. At the end you need to keep to the right continuing into Castle Street leading into the Town Centre.
A short distance up the hill on your left you will see the entrance to:
3) Shrewsbury Castle
Soon after the Norman Conquest, Roger de Montgomery built a castle here. It would have been a massive timber motte and bailey castle to defend the Town from both English and Welsh rebels. In 1150-89 Henry II built the first stone castle with ramparts dominating the only land entrance to the Town. It had both an inner and outer bailey with only the former remainingintact. The Great Hall was added by Edward I but declined over the years eventually being converted into a private residence for Sir William Pulteney MP in the 18th century, later becoming the Town’s Corporation Chamber. It is now the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum and houses an extremely fine collection of militaria – well worth a visit.
On the site of the original motte (keep) stands Laura’s Tower built for the daughter of Sir William. From here there are wonderful panoramic views across Shropshire and into the Welsh Hills.
As you leave the Castle you pass Castle Gate House an Elizabethan house originally standing elsewhere in the Town but moved here in 1702 with bays added later.
You need to cross over the road at this point to enter the grounds of:
4) Shrewsbury Library
Shrewsbury School began life here in 1552 in a timber framed building (Riggs Hall) which can be seen through the archway and as the need grew this prestigious and stately building was constructed in 1590s with the final frontage completed in 1630. Over the entrance are two figures Philomathes (scholar) and Polymathes (graduate) with the Greek quotation from Isocrates which translates as “if you are eager-to-be-learned you will be much-learned”. Over the years the school became more important and desirable and in the 19th century emerged as a major “public” school moving out of the cramped buildings to Kingsland overlooking the Town in 1882. It then became the Town Library and if circumstances permit it is well worth a visit inside.
In front of the library is the Mountford statue of Charles Darwin who was born locally at the Mount House and attended the school between 1818-1825. Look at the sides of the chair and you will note items which were of interest to him – ferns, coral, barnacles and orchids.
Moving through School gardens back into Castle Street you will pass houses belonging to school masters where many of the students were accommodated plus a courtyard which was part of the County Goal in the 1700s and some cells still remain under the Georgian houses,
Continue along Castle Street to arrive at the top of Pride Hill one of the main shopping streets where you will see:
5) Market Cross
A modern-day replica but important site as it was at this spot that Dafydd a Welsh prince was hung drawn and quartered in 1283 having been found guilty by the Parliament of Edward I for high treason. It was also the locations where knights from the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 were brought to receive similar treatment. Harry Hotspur had died on the battlefield and buried elsewhere but his body was brought here and displayed between two mill stones before being drawn and quartered.
Enter into St Mary’s Street where you will see:
6) St Mary’s Church
The current church began as a cruciform church around 1150 and was built on the site of a Saxon church dating from962. The red sandstone part of the tower dates from 1170 and the white stone above, including the spire, dates from around 1470. The spire is the third tallest in England (reaching 222 feet) and it was from here that a steeplejack Robert Cadman fell to his death in 1739 while entertaining the locals. The church is still consecrated but is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.
A visit inside the church is a must. As you enter you witness so much beauty in the stonework, ceiling and particularly the window glass. Directly in front of you as you walk through the West door is the magnificent Jesse Window dating from around 1350 which came to this church in the late 1791 having previously been in another church which had collapsed. The window is termed a Jesse Window as it represents the Tree of Jesse which traces the genealogy of Christ from Jesse. Isaiah 11.1 states “Then a root shall grow from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall spring from his roots”. In the lower part of the window Jesse can be seen lying down with a vine emanating from him which entwines around Kings of Israel beginning with David and leading to Joseph and Mary. The two columns on the left and right hand sides depict Prophets.
The church is exceptionally rich in stained glass and has one of the finest collection of continental glass in the Country. Of particular note are the ones depicting scenes from the life of St Bernard of Clairvaux which were originally in the abbey church of Altenberg, near Cologne. Also take a look at the Dutch Cruxifiction scene near the doorway into the vestry café – the colours are absolutely magnificent.
Leaving the church continue along St Mary’s Street which leads into Dogpole where on your left you will pass a timber-framed building dating from the early 1500s.
As you turn to the left at the junction you will see:
7) The Lion Hotel
The main part of the hotel was built in 1771 on the site of an older inn. It was developed as a centre for coach travel becoming a most fashionable stop on the London to Holyhead route. It was from here that Charles Darwin left to join the Beagle in 1831, not returning until 1836. The hotel now incorporates a 15th century building and one dated 1752.
Continuing down the Wyle Cop is a range of timber-framed buildings on your right. Henry Tudor House (1430-1) is where Henry Tudor reputedly stayed on his way to the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. This is followed by a fine range of early 15th century timber-framed buildings, once the home of Thomas Mytton who was the Bailiff when HenryTudor demanded entry into the Town. Having boasted that Henry would only enter over his dead bodyhe is said to have lain down and allowed Henry to step over him.
Continue down Wyle Cop where you will come to:
8) The English Bridge
This seven-arched bridge is the third one to be built at this point – the first being built was the Stone Bridge, as it was called. This was a fortified bridge controlling the entry into the Town and was then replaced by a second bridge in 1768-74. In the early part of the 1920s this was found to too steep and narrow for increased traffic – it was therefore dismantled and the current bridge erected, using the facing and much of the stone of the old bridge.
Continuing over the bridge you enter Abbey Foregate and ahead of you is:
9) Shrewsbury Abbey
The Benedictine Abbey of St Peter and St Paul was founded by Roger de Montgomery in 1083 and stands on the site of a wooden Saxon Church. It covered a large area of land with all its varied buildings linked to the Monastery. Roger took his vows as a monk three days before his death in 1294 and was buried in the nave. It was here that Edward I summoned the historic Parliament of1283, which for the first time included Commoners, for the purpose of trying the Welsh prince Dafvdd for high treason.Much alteration and demolition has taken place over the years, firstly after the Reformation and then when Thomas Telford brought his London to Holyhead road through in 1836.There is a 14th century refectory pulpit located across the road which gives some idea of the massive scale in its heyday. Take a note of the clock face where the Gothic letter F is in place of the Roman X and U instead of V – this also occurs on Big Ben.
Continue along Abbey Foregate. A major fire occurred in 1774 resulting in major destruction of the areaand there was much rebuilding with Georgian terraces and large mansions and of late much modern development.
You will then arrive at:
10) Lord Hill Column
This commemorates the 1st Viscount Hill, one of Wellington’s commanders and later Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Built in 1814-6 the column is reputed to be the tallest free-standing Doric column in the country standing at 133½ feet, including the statue of 17½ feet. The statue is made of Coade stone which has not weathered well over the years.
Alongside the Column stand the Shirehall which was opened by the Queen in 1967.
Return back down Abbey Foregate, over the English Bridge and take a left at the pedestrian crossing onto:
11) Stop Café @StopCoffeShop on Facebook. Right turn before you go under Greyfriars Foot Bridge. Open 10-4 Mon-Sat 10-3:30pm Sunday. What they do: Lunch, amazing cakes, and great coffee. Bike parking rack nearby too. Riverbank outdoor seating with some indoor seating. Recommend the bacon sandwiches for takeout.
Return to the pedestrian crossing and continue left to:
12) Town Walls:
The walls were built in the 13th century as part of the defences against the Welsh insurgents. Little of the Town Wall exists with only small examples such as this existing.
As you continue along you will come to:
13) Shrewsbury Catholic Cathedral
The first Bishop of Shrewsbury was appointed in 1850 by Pope Pius IX and the Earl of Shrewsbury offered to build him a cathedral. Augustus Welby Pugin was chosen to design it but both the Earl and Pugin died before work could begin. Pugin’s son Edward took over his father’s design and the foundation stone was laid in 1863. The Cathedral has a beautiful collection of stained glass, including seven windows depicting saints and martyrs by the world renowned Arts and Crafts artist Margaret Rope who spent her last 30 years of life as a Carmelite nun.Also has a café to grab refreshments if you would like.
Continuing onwards on your left you pass the last surviving watch tower of the medieval; walls before coming to:
14) St Chad’s Church
After the collapse of a previous St Chad’s elsewhere, it was decided to build a new church on this site and the Scottish architect George Steuart was invited to submit designs. He submitted one of conventional and others of circular designs. Although it is said that the conventional design was chosen, for some reason a circular church was built and it is one of only five such churches in the Country. The foundation stone was laid in 1790 and the church consecrated in 1792. You enter through a stately portico with four Doric columns with a heavy pediment. The lower part of the tower is square, the next stage is octagonal with Iconic pilasters topped by a circular stage of detached Corinthian columns with dome and cross above – the whole rising to 150 feet. The circular nave is linked by an elliptical vestibuleIf you look in the graveyard you will find Scrooge’s gravestone remaining from the 1984 filming ofChristmas CarolAfter the church turn right into Claremont Hill to complete your tour.