A Travellerspoint blog

April 2017

Shrewsbury

What I get up to when hubbie goes to the football.

I see quite a lot of the UK thanks to my husband's obsession with Walsall football club. On this occasion they had the decency to play away somewhere really nice - Shrewsbury. For me this was my second visit to Shrewsbury. My first visit was many years ago when I wanted to look at the town due to my fondness for the Cadfael stories written by Ellis Peters. Ellis Peters is the nom de plume of Edith Mary Pargeter, a Shropshire born writer who created the character of Brother Cadfael, a monk based in Shrewsbury Abbey who solves many intriguing mysteries. Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire and it is located on the River Severn.

We arrived in Shrewsbury by train. I rather liked its impressive looking station building.

Shrewsbury train station.

Shrewsbury train station.

After leaving the station, we walked to Shrewsbury library which was looking stunning with its blossom filled garden. In front of the library there is a seated statue of Charles Darwin who was born in Shrewsbury in 1809. Shrewsbury Library is situated in a grade 1 listed building which housed Shrewsbury School from 1550 until 1882. It became a library in 1885. Also in the library grounds there is a bust of romantic novelist and poet, Mary Webb.

Shrewsbury Library.

Shrewsbury Library.

Charles Darwin statue.

Charles Darwin statue.

Bust of Mary Webb.

Bust of Mary Webb.

Across the road from the library there are some lovely old buildings, including the Castle Gate House, and some spectacular gardens which lead the way to Shrewsbury Castle. Shrewsbury Castle was built by Roger de Montgomery in 1070. In 1645 it was captured by the Parliamentarians and was not surrendered back to the crown until 1660 when Charles II became king. This castle is now home to the Shropshire Regimental Museum. We did not go inside, but we very much enjoyed wandering the flower filled grounds. It's not for nothing that Shrewsbury is known as the International Award Winning Town of Flowers.

Old houses near castle foregate.

Old houses near castle foregate.

Shrewsbury Castle grounds.

Shrewsbury Castle grounds.

Shrewsbury Castle.

Shrewsbury Castle.

From the castle grounds it is possible to walk up to Laura's Tower which is located on the site of an earlier Norman castle.

Laura's Tower.

Laura's Tower.

When I had finished viewing the castle grounds, I wandered towards the town centre stopping to visit the Church of St Mary's on route. St Mary's dates from Saxon times and has one of the tallest spires in England. Near the main door of the church there is a memorial to local steeplejack and daredevil, Robert Cadman, who fell to his death while performing balancing tricks on a rope suspended from the church spire in 1739.

St Mary's Church.

St Mary's Church.

St Mary's Church detail.

St Mary's Church detail.

Memorial to the unfortunate Cadman.

Memorial to the unfortunate Cadman.

Next I headed for the old market square of Shrewsbury, now just known as The Square. The Square is surrounded by lovely old buildings such as the market building itself and the Old Music Hall which now houses Shrewsbury Museum. A statue of Clive of India stands in the centre of the square. Major-General Robert Clive who was born in Shropshire acquired much of India for the British Empire.

Clive of India with the market place behind him.

Clive of India with the market place behind him.

Not far from the square the Bear Steps, possibly named for an old inn that once stood here, lead up to lovely old wooden building now home to The Bear Steps Gallery and St Alkmund's Church. St Alkmund’s was founded in the tenth century, supposedly by Aethefleda, daughter of King Alfred the Great.

The Bear Steps.

The Bear Steps.

St Alkmund's Church

St Alkmund's Church

Bear Steps Gallery.

Bear Steps Gallery.

Next I wandered off to see the remains of old St Chad's Church. Shrewsbury has had churches dedicated to St Chad, first Bishop of Mercia, since medieval times. In 1788 the deteriorating St Chad's Church suddenly fell down and a new St Chad's had to be built. Some of the stones from the old church were used to build the new one. Part of old St Chad's still remains.

Old St Chad's.

Old St Chad's.

After that I went to visit Shrewsbury Cathedral. Shrewsbury Cathedral's proper name is apparently The Cathedral Church of Our Lady Help of Christians and Saint Peter of Alcantara, but that is a bit of a mouthful. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral dating from 1856.

Shrewsbury Cathedral.

Shrewsbury Cathedral.

Next I crossed the Severn River to visit Shrewsbury Abbey. Shrewsbury bAbbey's proper name is The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It was founded in 1083 as a Benedictine monastery by the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger de Montgomery. As I visited on Good Friday there was a service going on when I arrived. I sat and listened to it for a while.

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Abbey

Then I wandered back to the centre of Shrewsbury via the lovely English Bridge with its fantastic views up the River Severn.

The English Bridge.

The English Bridge.

Passing many of the earlier sights I had visited, no-one could ever accuse me of ever choosing the most practical route, I walked to the new Church of St Chad's. This church dates from 1792. Charles Darwin was baptised here and the grave of Ebenezer Scrooge, a prop from the 1984 film 'A Christmas Carol' is supposedly in its churchyard, though I could not manage to find it.

The new Church of St Chad's.

The new Church of St Chad's.

Across the road from new St Chad's Church is one of Shrewsbury's loveliest sights the Quarry Gardens, home to the Dingle a garden created by Percy Thrower, the Blue Peter gardener.

The Dingle.

The Dingle.

Bust of Percy Thrower.

Bust of Percy Thrower.

The Dingle.

The Dingle.

The Dingle.

The Dingle.

Sabrina, goddess of the River Severn.

Sabrina, goddess of the River Severn.

Finally, I took a stroll along the Severn, stopping for a quick look at the Quantum Leap, a sculpture created in 2009 to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth. Apparently locals nickname it the giant slinky, easy to see why. Then I re-met up with my husband and his brother who had enjoyed their football match just as much as I had enjoyed my wandering around wonderful Shrewsbury.

Quantum Leap.

Quantum Leap.

Posted by irenevt 19:55 Archived in England Comments (9)

Stafford

Stafford in spring.

More and more in the UK I am finding that there are places we pass through frequently by train but never look at which, if for one reason or another we do actually stop and look at, turn out to be actually very, very well worth seeing. Previous examples of this include Carlisle, Stoke, Wigan and Lancaster. Our latest find is Stafford.

My husband is from the West Midlands; I am from the west of Scotland, when we return to the UK we are up and down the West Coast Main Line by train continuously. We have passed through Stafford Station without the slightest interest repeatedly, but not too long ago due to engineering work we arrived in Stafford by rail replacement bus. This caused me to notice things such as the lovely park next to the station and thus the desire to plan a visit here was born. On our latest holiday with two days spare and no base, we decided to base ourselves in Penkridge, Stafford and use this as a base to explore Stafford itself.

In Penkridge we stayed in the Mercure Hotel which is located next to the station.

The Mercure Hotel

The Mercure Hotel

I was not expecting much from Penkridge, but it turned out to be quite an attractive little place with a wonderful church. The church in Penkridge is called The Church of St. Michael and All Angels. It dates from Anglo Saxon times. It is a beautiful building surrounded by a well kept graveyard.

Penkridge Church

Penkridge Church

Penkridge Church

Penkridge Church

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

As well as visiting the church, we also went for drinks in a pleasant little pub nearby called the Littleton Arms and took a walk along the river to see the viaduct where the train line crosses the River Penk.

The Littleton Arms.

The Littleton Arms.

Train crossing the River Penk

Train crossing the River Penk

Old house, Penkridge

Old house, Penkridge

After having a quick wander around Penkridge, we took the train into Stafford itself. Directly across from the station is one of Stafford's loveliest sights - Victoria Park. This beautiful flower filled park is located on the banks of the River Sow. There is a statue to Izaak Walton, author of 'The Compleat Angler' who was born in Stafford in 1593. There is also a war memorial, an aviary, two glass conservatories, a bowling green and a bowler statue and the wheels from an old water wheel.

Tulips so dark they look black.

Tulips so dark they look black.

Izaak Walton on the banks of the River Sow.

Izaak Walton on the banks of the River Sow.

Statue of a bowls player next to the bowling green.

Statue of a bowls player next to the bowling green.

Colourful pond.

Colourful pond.

Conservatory in the park.

Conservatory in the park.

Waterwheels.

Waterwheels.

From Victoria Park it is just a short walk to the historic centre of Stafford. We started by walking up a street lined with lovely old Tudor style black and white buildings.

Lovely old buildings in Stafford town centre.

Lovely old buildings in Stafford town centre.

At the end of the street we reached the wonderful, historic Church of St Mary's which has stood in Stafford town centre since the thirteenth century. We did not look inside the church.

St Mary's Church.

St Mary's Church.

On a little alley leading away from the church we could see the back of Stafford's most famous site; its ancient high house which is now its museum. The ancient high house is the largest timber framed town house in England. It was originally built in 1595. With our ever impeccable timing we arrived just as it was closing.

Stafford's ancient high house from the back.

Stafford's ancient high house from the back.

Stafford's ancient high house from the front.

Stafford's ancient high house from the front.

Stafford's historic centre is quite small and its other historic sights are mainly located on the Greengate Street, a short walk on either side from the ancient high house. These include Shire Hall which is now used as a gallery and St Chad's Church. St Chad's dates from the twelfth century and apparently has some lovely stone carvings such as the green man inside. We did not go inside on our visit.

Shire Hall Gallery.

Shire Hall Gallery.

St Chad's Church.

St Chad's Church.

Posted by irenevt 06:56 Archived in England Comments (6)

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