Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury: Town Trail Part 1

Today we are going to follow the blue path around town, starting from the Bear Steps (1) heading to the railway station. (The churches, station and library appear in ‘Looking at stone buildings)

towntrailmap (Trail 1)

The Bear Steps (1) is in the centre of town and named after a pub that was opposite the steps.

This place has a family connection as the OH’s eldest uncle was born in one of the small cottages back in 1913. The Bear Steps hall is one of only a few remaining medieval stone and timber-framed halls that dominated the town’s architecture. It now houses the offices of the Shrewsbury Civic Society (who produce a Shrewsbury Town Trail booklet and from which much of this information has been gathered) an Art Gallery and Coffee Shop. Continue reading Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury: Town Trail Part 1

Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury: A look at stone buildings

Although I lived in Shewsbury for two years at the beginning of the millennium, and relocated to south Shropshire from Surrey in 2011 I have not written much about the county town. I do have rather a large number of photos though taken over several years from various visits and since it has quite an interesting history, including buildings of various designs and styles built over a thousand years, I thought it time to set this right.

The first written evidence that refers to Shrewsbury dates back to 901. It refers to Shrewsbury as ‘Scrobbesbyrig’ which indicates that it was then a fortified settlement with ‘Scrobbes’ most likely referring to a scrub covered hill, and ‘bryig’ suggesting the presence of fortifications. Shrewsbury is a stunning historic town with over 660 listed buildings and some very strange street names – Dogpole and Mardol, Gullet Passage and Grope Lane. And there is still disagreement as to whether the modern-day name is pronounced Shrewsbury, or Shrowsbury.

Shropshire is England’s largest inland county with Shrewsbury as the county town. Curled up within a horseshoe bend of the River Severn (Great Britain’s longest river), it narrowly escapes being an island.

towntrailmap (stone)

A thriving Saxon town it had a mint by the early 900s and following the Norman Conquest, a castle and a monastery. By the 1380s Shrewsbury was the third largest centre after London and York. The town’s heart still remains within the embrace of the river, protected and rich in ancient streets and historic buildings. Continue reading Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury: A look at stone buildings

Bodiam Castle

In the south-eastern corner of England you can find several impressive castles – Hever, Leeds, Dover, Rochester, Deal and Bodiam amongst them. Historically the region has always been vulnerable to attack from foreign shores.

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As we were staying in the Weald of Kent for a few days, which is on the East Sussex border, we decided to take the historic steam train from Tenterden to Bodiam and walk to the moated castle, often glimpsed from the road when passing by. We could have driven there in about 10 minutes, but sometimes it is nice to take things slowly and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

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In 1377 French ships raided the Sussex coast, causing widespread damage and panic among the local population which led to the building of nearby Scotney Castle. The French later raided nearby Winchelsea in 1380, so when a new French invasion threatened in 1385 Sir Edward Dalyngrigge (one of Edward III’s knights) applied to King Richard II for a license to fortify and strengthen the existing hall he lived in.

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Having been granted permission he decided to build a new sandstone fortress near the River Rother, which at that time was navigable to the coast. Though its primary aim was defense, Dalyngrigge made sure that Bodiam was also a comfortable abode, as much a fortified residence as a military stronghold. And of course a visual symbol of his wealth.

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Bodiam Castle is considered to be the finest example of  medieval, moated, military architecture in Britain.

The interior from the Postern Tower
The interior from the Postern Tower

The French invasion never took place, and Bodiam’s impressive defenses were never tested until 1484 when the castle fell to a siege by Richard III.

Do you have a favourite castle?

Daily Prompt: Local Flavour

This is my introduction to Ludlow, which was where I lived from 2011 to 2016. The name Ludlow comes from ‘lud’ the loud waters and ‘low’ a tumulus. If you were to ‘Google’ Ludlow you would find that it is the largest town in south Shropshire and has over 500 listed buildings. You may also discover that it is known as one of the best ‘foodie’ towns in the UK with regular open-air markets, local produce markets and both a Spring and Autumn food festival lasting over the weekend

Ludlow has been described as the “perfect English town”. It is situated on the River Teme in the southernmost part of Shropshire, on the Welsh Marches. It has a medieval street pattern and many ancient buildings including a castle and a magnificent parish church as well as streets lined with medieval and Georgian properties.

” The secret of Ludlow resides in the fact that, like York, it was once a seat of government in Tudor and Stewart England. A sense of its own identity and importance has never quite left it. That accounts for its strength of character and the lingering sense of authority. This is a town which, although the tide of history has receded from it, still manages to preside magisterially over the countryside one glimpses at the end of every street. ” – Sir Roy Strong

The natural starting point for a stroll around the town would be the Castle Square where the market is held several days a week and on the second or fourth Thursday of the month when the local produce market is held you can load up with local cheeses, meats, real ales from micro-breweries, bottles of home-made chutneys and preserves, soaps and even fresh herbs if you so desire. It is a traditional open-air market with 20-30 stalls selling produce from within a 30 mile radius of Ludlow.

From here you can visit the castle. It is a ruin, but quite an interesting one, and it dominates the skyline from the river side of the town. It has a combination of architecture from Norman, Medieval and Tudor times. Parts date from the 11th century when built by Walter de Lacy. It was enlarged by Roger Mortimer in the 14th century and has been in the hands of the Earls of Powis since 1811. The castle was a seat of government for Wales for a time and it was involved in the Wars of the Roses with a major battle taking place at Ludford Bridge. Often events are held in the castle such as the Christmas Medieval Fayre (late November) and the Ludlow Festival held in the summer which features an open-air production of Shakespeare. Continue reading Daily Prompt: Local Flavour