From the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution, this county is rich with remnants from history, which is probably why there are nearly 7,000 listed buildings in Shropshire!
Here we celebrate just a few reasons to love beautiful and historic Shropshire:
1. Outstanding natural beauty
The Shropshire Hills were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958, and covers about a quarter of the county. The hills are not just a site of beauty though, the hills also have the greatest geological variety of any comparably sized area in the UK, or indeed the world.
Places like Ludlow and Wenlock Edge have even given their names to geological periods.
2. Romantic ruins
There are ruins abound in Shropshire, from remnants of Iron Age civilisations to medieval castles.
Wroxeter Roman City was rediscovered in 1859 when workmen began excavating the baths complex. Established around 55 AD as a frontier post, it was given its Roman name ‘Viroconium’ after the local British tribe of the Cornovii were subdued and their capital was moved from the Wrekin to Wroxeter.
At its peak, it is thought to have been the 4th largest settlement in Roman Britain, with a population of more than 15,000. It became one of the first archaeological sites in Britain to become a tourist attraction open to the public.
Wenlock Priory, a ruined 12th century monastery, on the site of an earlier 7th century monastery, tells many stories.
A monastery was founded at Wenlock in the 680s by Merewald, King of Mercia. The king’s daughter, Milburga, was the abbess in charge. After the Norman Conquest, Wenlock was given to Roger, Earl of Montgomery, who had acted as Regent of Normandy at the time of the conquest. He re-founded the Wenlock community as a Cluniac priory. St Milburga’s relics were miraculously re-discovered in 1101 attracting pilgrims to the priory.
3. Industrial marvels
The Ironbridge Gorge is known across the world as the birthplace of the Industrial revolution. In 1709 in Coalbrookdale the Quaker ironmaker, Abraham Darby, discovered a more effective method of smelting iron which led to mass production of the material.
Abraham Darby was commissioned to cast and build the world’s first iron bridge, erected over the River Severn in Shropshire in 1779. This pioneering structure marked a turning point in English design and engineering; after it was built, cast iron came to be widely used in the construction of bridges, aqueducts and buildings.
The bridge was so successful that it gave its name to the spectacular wooded valley which surrounds it, now recognised as the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.
Not long after, the world’s first iron framed building was built in 1797. The Main Mill at Shrewsbury is iron-framed, making it the ‘grandparent’ of the modern skyscraper. Charles Bage designed it this way to be fireproof with the structural strength needed to make it a multi-storeyed building.
It thrived as a flax mill for nearly a century until its closure in 1886. The Mill re-opened in 1897 as a maltings, producing malt for the brewing industry. During the Second World War, it was partially used as a temporary barracks and storage. The malting business closed in 1987 and since then the site has been disused.
Following the closure of the maltings in 1987, it was left derelict for many years. We are now working with partners to save and restore this remarkable piece of the Industrial Revolution.
4. Real ale
The Three Tuns Inn and Brewery were established in 1642 and was granted a brewing licence by King Charles I. The main building is a Victorian tower brewery erected in around 1888, making it one of only four brewers in the UK to use such a method to brew beer. The pub is open today and you can get a pint of real ale from the still-operating brewery.
In 2019, a beer brewed by a Shrewsbury brewery was named as the best in the world. Salopian Brewery’s Paper Planes, a New England IPA, was awarded Supreme Champion at the International Beer Challenge.
5. Famous salopians
Wilfred Owen, acknowledged as one of the foremost poets of the period of the First World War, was born in Plas Wilmot in Oswestry. He lived at the house, which was owned by his grandparents, for the early years of his childhood, and its influence on his later life is well attested by members of his family and his biographers.
Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children, was born in Ellesmere, Shropshire. A social reformer and former teacher, she founded the charity in 1919 after seeing the effects of warfare on innocent children during the First World War. She came from an impressive family; her sister Louisa helped found the Women’s Land Army.
Another famous Salopian is Charles Darwin. Born on 12 February 1809 in ‘The Mount’, a large Georgian house built by his father. His fascination with plants, insects and other animals was fostered through his upbringing in Shrewsbury. His father had a keen interest in plants and gardening, ensuring The Mount had a rich garden and greenhouse.
- A Brief History of Castles on the Welsh Border
- 7 Iconic Bridges of England
- Visit Sherwsbury Flaxmill Maltings
What have we missed? Let us know your favourite historic sites in Shropshire in the comments below.