This year it was a conducted tour of Shifnal guided by Marilyn Higson. We met at the Old Fire Station and were treated to tea, coffee and biscuits by the volunteers of the Shifnal Local History Group to whom much thanks.
Shifnal is a compact little town so a walk from the Fire Station into town along Shrewsbury Rd. down Bradford St., looking back up Broadway, on under the Viaduct, a short distance into Victoria Rd. then off down Church St. to St. Andrew’s Church could have been done in 10 minutes. We took 2 hours.
We dawdled of course, there were 17 of us and whilst we dawdled Marilyn was able to give us a potted history and point out interesting buildings etc.
There were 2 settlements, the original one around the church which was called Idsall, and a later medieval planned town Shifnal. The fact that it was planned accounts for the Broadway which was and still is the Market Place. This market, granted its charter in 1245, was intended to serve the small villages in the area and in due course became a coaching destination well catered for by the Jerningham Arms and the Star Hotel. The Jerningham, built in 1705 by Revel Phillips as a town house, has been converted to flats and the Star has absorbed 3 more pubs and is now Oddfellows.
The development of the Turnpike Road by Thomas Telford in the early 19th century distorted the south end of the Market Square though by this time a fair amount of it had been filled in by trade and the town Elders. There was the Town Hall, the Court and Lock-up and properties various traders had built some of which survived until 1960s when they were demolished to provide a car park. One building had been taken down and rebuilt in Whitmore Reans in 1930 and survives there to this day.
The Turnpike lead to another fine building, in 1817 the town wishing to impress, built what is now Park Court at the entrance to the town. In those days it may have looked good but I do not think the inmates there felt impressed as this was the Work House.
The Normans also out to impress at the start of the town built a fine church St. Andrew’s this was “restored“ by the Victorians in 1870, Gilbert Scott designed the Font cover. In 1980 a local artist blacksmith made beautiful gates for the porch.
In 1591 there was a serious fire only one building is known to have survived this is Old Idsall House next to the church in Church St. The oldest brick built house is the splendid Idsall House a fine example of William and Mary now part of the Park House Hotel.
The other urban modernisation to affect the town was the Railway in 1848. The first bridge was built by the Horsehay Co. and not replaced until 1953. The construction brought an influx of Irish labourers and many of these stayed on, at one point one tenth of the populace were Irish. A Catholic Church was built on land given by Lord Stafford.
St. Andrew’s church yard is very extensive and houses the Sensory Garden a millennium project.
On our walk we were delighted to meet Bob Cromarty an honorary and founder member of THAS.
To view pictures of our walk around Shifnal please go to our Facebook page.