Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BRIDGNORTH

BRIDGNORTH, a town, two parishes, a subdistrict, a district, and a division in Salop. The town stands on the river Severn, adjacent to the Severn Valley railway, 13½ miles SW by W of Wolverhampton; and a railway from it to Wolverhampton and other places in Staffordshire was authorised in 1866. The town was founded by the Princess Ethelfleda, and was anciently called Brugge or Brigge. A castle is thought to have been built at it by the Saxons; and either this was renovated or a new one erected, of great strength, in 1102, by Robert de Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury. Henry I. speedily took the castle, and made it a royal fortress. Henry II. was at it, and narrowly escaped death beneath its walls. Thomas a Becket lodged in it. John made it a visit. Edward I. came to it, fresh from his fields of victory. Edward II. took refuge in it from the alarms of pursuit. Henry IV. rendezvoused his forces at it. Charles I. came to it at the commencement of the great disasters of his reign; and pronounced the promenade connected with it the finest walk in his kingdom. The parliamentarians, in 1645, laid siege to it; obtained possession of it, at the end of three weeks, by capitulation; and then dismantled it, and blew up its fortifications. A large portion of the town was burned to the ground during the siege. Henry IV. is represented as saying, in reference to his rendezvous,-

On Wednesday next, Harry, thou shalt set forward;
On Thursday, we ourselves will march:
Our meeting is in Bridgnorth: and Harry, you
Shall march through Glostershire; by which account,
Our business valued, some twelve days hence
Our general forces at Bridgnorth shall meet.

The town is divided by the Severn into two portions, called the Upper and the Lower. The Upper portion is on the right bank, on the sides and summit of a red sandstone rock, rising 180 feet above the level of the river; and presents a remarkably picturesque appearance. The houses rest on the live rock, and, in some instances, have cellars hewn out of it; a hollow way, 20 feet deep, goes down the slope of the rock to the river; and a railed terrace, cut along the forehead of the bluff, wends above gardens and around the castle's site, and commands a splendid view. The high-street is spacious; and once had "rows," as at Chester. Extensive street-improvements have been made since 1851. A large fragment of the castle still exists, inclining seventeen degrees from the perpendicular, in consequence of undermining at the siege preceding its demolition. A handsome bridge, with seven arches, crosses the Severn. The town hall, in the middle of High-street, was built in 1646. The agricultural hall is in the Gothic style, and was built in 1867. The market-hall is a neat edifice of coloured brick, erected in 1855. A decaying timber house in Cartway was the birth-place of Bishop Percy. St. Mary's church was originally founded at Quatford, in the time of William Rufus, by Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury; but was soon removed to the castle at Bridgnorth, made collegiate for a dean and six prebendaries, exempted by King John from ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and constituted parochial in the time of Edward III. The present edifice is in the Ionic style, has a tower and cupola, and was erected in 1792. St. Leonard's church is early decorated English; was restored in 1862; consists of nave, chancel, and north and south aisles, with a southern tower; has a handsome new carved screen of Hollington stone, and a carved oak pulpit; and commands interest for being the place where Richard Baxter began his ministry. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, and Methodists; a free grammar school, with three exhibitions at Oxford; a blue coat school; an hospital and alms-house, with jointly £257 a year; a literary institute; subscription reading room; a theological library, founded by Dean Stackhouse: and a public library, with nearly 5,000 volumes.

The town has a head post office,‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and two chief inns; is a seat of sessions and a polling-place; and publishes a weekly newspaper. A market is held on Saturday; and fairs on the third Monday of Jan., Feb., March, Aug., and Sep.; on the second Monday of June, July, and Dec., and on 1 May and 29 Oct. Much business is done in agricultural produce; and manufactures are carried on in carpets, rugs, and worsteds. The town was chartered by Henry II.; sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867; was reduced, in that year, to the right of sending only one; and is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. The municipal borough includes the two town parishes, part of Quatt, and most of Quatford. The parliamentary borough includes also the parishes of Astley-Abbots, Tasley, and Oldbury, the rest of Quatford parish, and Romsley liberty in Alveley parish. Direct taxes in 1857, £4,666. Electors in 1868, 658. Pop., in 1861, of the m. borough, 6,240. Houses, 1,270. Pop., of the p. borough, 7,699. Houses, 1,570. Francis Moore, the physician, and Stedman, the divine, were natives.

The two parishes are St. Mary or Low parish and St. Leonard or High parish. Acres of St. Mary, 531. Real property, £8,189. Pop., 2,683. Houses, 567. Acres of St. Leonard, 500. Real property, £7,957. Pop., 3,044. Houses, 621. St. M. is a rectory, St. L. a vicarage, in the dio. of Hereford. Patron of both, T. Whitmore, Esq. Value of St. Mary, £250;* of St. Leonard, £308.* The subdistrict includes also the parishes of Tasley and Oldbury, and the greater part of Quatford. Acres, 3,382. Pop., 6,240. Houses, 1,294. The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Worfield, containing the parishes of Worfield, Quatt, Alveley, and Claverley; and the subdistrict of Chetton, containing the parishes of Chelmarsh, Glazeley, Deuxhill, Billingsley, Sidbury, Middleton-Scriven, Neenton, North Cleobury, Burwarton, Long Stanton, Ditton-Priors, Monkhopton, Acton-Round, Upton-Cressett, Morvill, and Astley-Abbots, part of Quatford, and the greater part of Chetton. Acres, 69,896. Poor-rates in 1866, £8,732. Pop. in 1861, 15,920. Houses, 3,289. Marriages in 1866, 85; births, 454,-of which 30 were illegitimate; deaths, 243,-of which 53 were at ages under 5 years, and 13 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 915; births, 4,517; deaths, 2,994. The places of worship in 1851 were 29 of the Church of England, with 8,142 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 400 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 530 s.; 5 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 399 s.; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 28 s.; 1 Catholic and Apostolic, with 200 s.; and 3 of Roman Catholics, with 278 s. The schools were 18 public day schools, with 1,146 scholars; 16 private day schools, with 317 s.; 19 Sunday schools, with 1, 202 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 12 s. The workhouse is in St. Leonard.-The division is in Brimstree hundred; and contains Worfield and Claverley parishes, and part of Bobbington. Acres, 18,978. Pop., 3,393. Houses, 713.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, two parishes, a subdistrict, a district, and a division"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Bridgnorth CP       Bridgnorth SubD       Bridgnorth PLU/RegD       Shropshire AncC
Place names: BRIDGNORTH     |     BRIGGE     |     BRUGGE
Place: Bridgnorth

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