Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for SHREWSBURY

SHREWSBURY, a town, five parishes, and a district, in Salop. The town stands on the river Severn, at the terminus of the Shrewsbury canal, and at a convergence of railways, 8 miles E of the boundary with Wales, 42 S by E of Chester, and 153 by road, but 155 by railway, NW of London. The Severn is navigable to it for barges of 40 tons; the canal gives inland navigation eastward into connexion with the general canal system of England; and seven lines of railway go toward respectively Chester, Crewe, Stafford and Birmingham, Worcester, Hereford, Welshpool, and Llanymynech, giving communication with all parts of the kingdom.

History.—The town was known to the ancient Britons as Pengwern, signifying "the alder hill,''-to the Saxons as Scrobbesbyrig, signifying "shrubstown'' or "the town of bushes;'' and the latter name was gradually corrupted, in three directions, into Schrosberie and Shrewsbury, into Sciropscire and Shropshire, and into Sloppesberie, Salopia, and Salop. The Britons founded the town in the 5th century, on occasion of the decay of the Roman Uriconium, 5 miles to the SE. The princes of Powis made it their residence. The Saxons, under Offa, king of Mercia, took possession of it in 778. Alfred established a mint at it; and his daughter Elfleda founded a college in it. Etheldred spent Christmas at it in 1006. Edmund Ironside punished it, in 1016, for revolting to Canute. The Welsh besieged it in 1069, but were driven off by William the Conqueror. Roger de Montgomery got a gift of it from the Conqueror, built a great castle at it, and took from it the title of Earl. Robert, the son of Roger, in consequence of taking part against Henry I., provoked that monarch to come against it with an army of 60,000 men, and was expelled and deposed. An assemblage of nobles met at it in 1116 to give allegiance to William, the son of the Empress Maud. Stephen took it from William in 1139; and Henry II. retook it. A council was held at it by John, to concert measures against the Welsh. Llewelyn took it in 1215; and Henry III. retook it in 1220, and visited it in 1221 and 1227. The Welsh took it again in 1233; and Henry III. again retook it soon afterwards,-revisited it in 1241, 1260, and 1267,-and strengthened it with walls. Edward I. fixed his residence at it in 1277; removed to it his courts of king's bench and exchequer; brought to trialand to execution in it David Llewelyn; and, in 1283, held at it and at Acton-Burnell a famous parliament. Edward II. held a grand tournament at it in 1322. Richard II. visited it in 1387, and held at it a "great'' parliament in 1397. The sanguinary battle between Henry IV. and Henry Hotspur, known as the battle of Shrewsbury, occurred at Battlefield, about 3 miles distant, in 1403. Edward Earl of March, afterwards Edward IV., levied, in Shrewsbury and its neighbourhood, the troops with whom he won the battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1460; and, on his elevation to the throne, he sent his queen to Shrewsbury for protection against the perils of the times. His sons Richard and George. were born at the black friary of the town in 1472; and he himself was again here in 1480. Buckingham was executed here in 1484. Henry Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., was first proclaimed at Shrewsbury in 1485; and he visited it in 1488, 1490, and 1495. Charles I. made it his rendezvous in 1642; was joined at it by Prince Rupert and many other magnates; established his mint at it; and strengthened and extended its fortifications. The parliamentarians, under Col. Mytton, took it by surprise in 1644. James II. visited it in 1687; Sacheverell, in his high-church progress, in 1711; the Prince Regent, in 1806; the Princess Victoria, in 1832; and the Royal Agricultural Society, in 1845.

Among distinguished natives of Shrewsbury have been Bishop Ralph de Shrewsbury; Bishop Robert de Shrewsbury; the monk Robert de Shrewsbury; Bishop Woolley, who died in 1684; Bishop Thomas, 1766; Bishop Bowers, 1724; Chief-Justice Jones, 1683; the theologian Arnway, 1601; the theologian Davies, 1709; the theologian W. Adams, 1739; the mathematician Costard, 18th century; "Demosthenes'' Taylor, 1766; the theologian and critic H. Farmer, 1787; the local historian Blakeway, 1826; Archdeacon Owen, 1827; the orientalist Dr. Scott, 1829: the poet Churchyard 1604: Price, the chaplain to James I.; Speaker Onslow, 1768; the musician Dr. Burney, 1814; the dwarf E. Schofield; the famous beauty, Sarah Pridden; and perhaps Admiral Benlow. Among famous residents have been Tallents, the learned nonconformist, and Farquhar, the author of the "Recruiting Officer." The earldom of Shrewsbury is the premier one, and belongs now to the Talbots.

Site and Structure.—The town all stood originally on two gentle elevations, peninsulated by a serpentine sweep of the Severn; but it gradually extended beyond the river into the suburbs of Abbey-Foregate, Coleham, Frankwell, and Castle-Foregate. It rises in such manner, on graduated ground, as to present exteriorly a bold and picturesque appearance; it is environed by many pleasant walks and drives; and it commands charming views to wooded hills and lofty mountains, in great varieties of form and distance. The streets, in the old parts, are narrow and irregular, present curious mixtures of old and new houses, and include some back slums of repulsive character; but the streets and outskirts, in the newer parts, exhibit high improvement, have intermixtures of lawn and garden, and are pleasant and airy. The market place is a spacious square, and contains some of the most important of the public buildings. The aggregate of old houses, either wooden or half-wooden, of the time of Elizabeth, and even of earlier times, is remarkably large; and combines with an aggregate of other houses less old, but not modern, to give much of the town an antique and quaint appearance. Some of the most curious ancient edifices still or recently standing are the council-house, built by the Plowdens before 1501; a carved hall, 50 feet by 26, where Charles I. and James II. kept court; a part of the Charltons' mansion, built before 1465, and long used as a theatre; the mansion of the Irelands, a gabled and half-timbered building at the corner of High-street; the mansion of the Rowleys, built in 1618, and eventually converted into a factory; a house called Vaughan's Place, partly of the 14th century; a residence called Whitehall, built by a lawyer in 1578-82; the Bell Stone house, built in 1582; the clothworkers' hall, built in the 14th century, and eventually converted into a shop; the drapers hall, built in the time of Elizabeth; and a very fine timber-house of the 15th century in Butchers-row. The antiqueness of the town is further shown in the retention of many quaint and ancient names of streets, such as Mardol, Murivance, Pride Hill, Shop Latch, and Wyle Cop. The town walls were first begun by the second Montgomery; were brought to a finished condition by Henry II.; were, as we have already said, strengthened and extended by Charles I.; were, for the most part, destroyed in 1645, while the town was in possession of the parliamentarian troops; described a circuit of about 1⅓ mile; had twenty towers and three gates; and are now represented by only some small remains on the S side of the town, and by one of the towers. The remains of the walls are in good preservation, and form an agreeable promenade; and the tower stands in Bellmont-street, and is two stories high. A public recreation-ground, called the Quarry, is on the SW side of the town, and bounded by the Severn; was laid out, and planted with lime-trees, in 1719; comprises about 23 acres; and contains a series of very beautiful public walks.

Public Buildings.—The ancient castle is still standing; occupies a high site, adjacent to the Severn; retains a fine inner-gate Norman arch of the original structure; was mainly rebuilt in the time of Edward I., somewhat altered in that of Charles I., and entirely renovated and modernized in later times; consists chiefly of two round towers of the keep, and the walls of the inner court; includes a watchtower, rebuilt by the late Mr. Telford; and is now the residence of the Rev. G. Downward. The town hall and county-court were built in 1836, after designs by Smirke, at a cost of £12,000; and occupy the site of a timbered booth-hall, dating from the time of Edward II. The county jail was built in 1793, after designs by Haycock, at a cost of £30,000; contains a bust of Howard by Bacon; and has capacity for 259 male and 35 female prisoners. The military depôt was built in 1806, after designs by Wyatt, at a cost of £10,000; measures 135 feet by 39; and contains an armoury for 25,000 stand of arms. The old market house was built in 1595; has an open arcade with corn-market 105 feet by 24, surmounted by a series of square mullioned windows; and shows the arms of Queen Elizabeth over the W front, and a statue in armour of Edward IV.'s father over the N arch. The new market-hall was built in 1867; is in the Italian style, of polychromatic bricks with stone-dressings; measures 322 feet by 148; and includes a general market, a shop-arcade, a butchers'market, a fruit-market, a corn exchange, and storing-vaults. The railway station was built at a cost of £40,000; is an ornamental structure, in the Tudor style; has a frontage of 150 feet, and ornamental flanks of two stories; and is surmounted by a central tower, with an oriel window. The English bridge, across the Severn, was erected in 1774, at a cost of £16,000; is 410 feet long; and has seven semi-circular arches, and an open balustrade. The Welsh bridge was built in 1795, at a cost of £8,000; is 266 feet long; and has five arches. The music and assembly rooms are commodious. The theatre was rebuilt in 1 834. The working men's hall was built in 1863, at a cost of nearly £4,000; and contains a lecture-hall, a reading room, a refreshment hall, and hot and cold baths. Lord Hill's monument was erected in 1816, at a cost of £5,973; and is a Doric column 133 feet high, surmounted by a colossal statue. Lord Clive's monument is a full-length bronze figure, by Marochetti, on a polished granite pedestal.

Parishes and Churches.—The five parishes of S. are Holy Cross and St. Giles, St. Julian, St. Mary, St. Alkmond, and St. Chad; and they extend far into the country, and include 25 townships. Pop. in 1861 of H.and St. G., 2,234; of St. J., 4,832; of St. M., 8,360; of St. A., 1,444; of St. C., 8,318. The area of the five parishes, together with that of Brace-Meole, is 18,032 acres; and it is cut ecclesiastically into the eighteen sections of Holy Cross, St. Giles, St. Julian, Bayston-Hill, Coleham, St. Mary, Leaton, St. Michael, Albrighton, Astley, Berwick, Clive, St. Alkmond, St. Chad, Betton, Bicton, Frankwell, and Oxon and Shelton. The livings of Holy Cross, St. Alkmond, and St. Chad are vicarages, and the other livings are p. curacies, in the diocese of Lichfield. Value of Holy Cross, £323; of St. Alkmond, £219;* of St. Chad, £350; of St. Giles, £80; of St. Julian, £120; of St. Mary, £366; of St. Michae1, £198.* Patron of H. C., St. A., and St. C., the Lord Chancellor; of St. G., the Vicar of Holy Cross; of St. J., the Earl of Tankerville; of St. Mary, Trustees; of St. Michael, the Incumbent of St. Mary. The other livings are noticed in their own alphabetical places.

Holy Cross or Abbey church is part of the church of an ancient Benedictine abbey; consists of a nave with aisles, 123 feet long and 62¼ feet broad, a porch, and a W tower; had formerly also a transept 133 feet by 37, a central tower 30 feet square, a choir 69 feet by 45, a Lady chapel 50 feet long, and an E ambulatory 30 feet long; is variously Norman, early English, and decorated; and underwent gradual restoration during a number of years up to 1866. The abbey was founded in 1087, by Roger de Montgomery; acquired soon the status of a mitred abbey; obtained great wealth from pilgrimages to the remains of St. Winifred enshrined within it; had revenues to the estimated amount of £656 at the dissolution; and has left some small remains of its monastic buildings, including the guest-hall, the N and E parts of the precinct wall, and a superb octagonal refectory pulpit. St. Giles' church dates from the time of Henry I.; was used as the chapel of a leper hospital; and includes some modern restoration-work and additions. St. Julian's church was rebuilt in 1846; is in the Doric style; and retains the tower of a previous ancient church, with Norman basement. St. Mary's church ranges from Norman to Tudor, with many interesting features; comprises nave, aisles, transepts, chancel, and two chantry chapels; and has a tower with octagonal spire 220 feet high. St. Michael's church was built in 1830, and is in the Grecian style. St. Alkmond's church was originally cruciform, and said to have been founded in 912, by the Princess Ethelfleda; was rebuilt, in a plain modern Gothic style, in 1795; and retains an old tower with graceful spire 184 feet high. St. Chad's church is noticed in the article Chad (St.). The Independent chapel in Abbey-Foregate was built in 1864, at a cost of £6,000; is in the decorated English style; and has a NW tower 114 feet high. There are also another Independent chapel, and Baptist, Quaker, Calvinistic Methodist, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, New Connexion Methodist, and Unitarian chapels. The Roman Catholic church was built in 1856, after designs by Pugin, at a cost of £10,000; and acquired rich carvings in years up to the latter part of 1865. Four ancient chapels, besides the churches, were formerly in the town; but only one of them has left any vestiges. A Franciscan friary was founded in the time of Henry III.; a Dominican friary, in the same reign; an Augustinian friary, in 1255; and all three have left some slight vestiges. The public cemetery is about a mile from the town; was formed in 1855, at a cost of £4,000; and comprises about 20 acres.

Schools and Institutions.—The grammar-school suc- ceeded St. Peter's college, associated with the name of the historian Ordericus Vitalis; was founded in 1553, and rebuilt in 1630; forms two sides of a quadrangle, with pinnacled tower, chapel, and library; has an endowed income of about £3,200, twenty-one exhibitions and scholarships, and a fellowship at the universities; and had Dr. Butler, afterwards Bishop of Lichfield, as a master, and Bishops Thomas and Bowers, Chief Justice Jones, Judge Jefffreys, Lord Brooke, Sir P. Sidney, the mathematician Waring, "Demosthenes'' Taylor, Wycherley, and A. Phillips as pupils. Ollatt's school has an endowed income of £297; and had the self-taught linguist Bailey as a master. Millington's school, for 50 scholars, is associated with an hospital for 22 alms-people; and has two exhibitions at Magdalen college, Cambridge, and, together with the hospita1, an endowed income of £1,227. Bowdler's school has an endowed income of £105. There are also subscription, national, and Lancasterian schools.-The public subscription library contains about 6,000 volumes, and includes newsrooms. The antiquarian museum and the school of art occupy one building; and the former includes a rich collection of Roman relics found at Wroxeter, the ancient Uriconinm. The house of industry was built as a foundling hospital, in 1765, at a cost of £12,000; and furnished Day, the author of "Sandford and Merton,'' with his Sabrina and Lucretia to bring up according to his own plan. The Shropshire infirmary was founded in 1745; was rebuilt in 1830, at a cost of £18,735; and is in the Grecian style, with a Doric portico. The county lunatic asylum stands on Bicton Heath, and is in the Tudor style. Three suites of alms houses have endowments of respectively £103, £23, and £19. There are also an eye and car dispensary, a lyingin hospital, a penitentiary, and other institutions.

Trade.—The town has a head post-office‡ at its centre, a receiving post-office‡ at Abbey-Foregate, a central railway station with telegraph, four banking offices, and four chief inns; is a seat of assizes, sessions, and county courts, the head of an excise collection, and a polling place; commands much transit traffic, as a focus of railway communication; is a grand tourists, centre for Salop and for much of North Wales; and publishes five newspapers. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; butter and cheese fairs, on the second Wednesday of every month; horse, cattle, and sheep fairs, on every alternate Tuesday; a great annual horse fair in March; and wool fairs, on 2 July and 14 Aug. The manufacture of thread, linen, flax, and shoes is largely carried on; malting, brawn-making, and glass-staining are considerable; the manufacture of peculiar cakes, known as shrewsburys, has been famous since the time of Elizabeth; and an extensive iron foundry is at Coleham. Races are held in September on an oval racecourse, at Monkmoor, about ½ a mile from the town.-S. is a borough by prescription; was first chartered by Richard I.; has sent two members to parliament since the time of Edward l.; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 30 councillors; and has the same limits parliamentarily as municipally, comprising the parish of Holy Cross and St. Giles, and parts of the parishes of St. Julian, St. Mary, St. Alkmond, St. Chad, and Brace-Meole. The corporation income is about £2,550. The police force, in 1864, comprised 23 men, at an annual cost of £1,414. The crimes committed in 1864 were 43; the persons apprehended, 31; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 223; the houses of bad character, 67. Electors in 1833, 1,714; in 1863, 1,501. Real property in 1860, £178,633; of which £422 were in mines, £138 in quarries, £27,444 in railways, and £700 in gasworks. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £9,988. Pop. in 1851, 19,681; in 1861 22,163. Houses, 4,445.

The District.—The poor-law district comprises the par- ishes of Holy Cross and St. Giles, St. Julian, St. Alkmond, and part of St. Mary, forming the sub-district of St. Mary; and the parishes of St. Chad and Brace-Meole, forming the sub-district of St. Chad. Acres, 18,032. Poor rates in 1863, £7,955. Pop. in 1851, 23,104; in 1861, 25,784. Houses, 5,173. Marriages in 1863, 277; births, 864,- of which 95 were illegitimate; deaths, 659,-of which 234 were at ages under 5 years, and 14 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,555; births, 7,033; deaths, 6,156. The places of worship, in 1851, were 13 of the Church of England, with 9,618 sittings; 5 of Independents, with 1,307 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 714 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 125 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 218 s.; 5 of Wesleyans, with 1,436 s.; 3 of New Connexion Methodists, with 730 s.; 2 of Primitive Methodists, with 400 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 160 s.; 2 of Calvinistic Methodists, with 550 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 25 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 140 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, the s. not reported. The schools were 18 public day schools, with 2,167 scholars; 25 private day schools, with 734 s.; and 12 Sunday schools, with 1,275 s.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, five parishes, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Shrewsbury CP       Shrewsbury PLU/Inc/RegD       Shropshire AncC
Place names: PENGWERN     |     SCROBBESBYRIG     |     SHREWSBURY
Place: Shrewsbury

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