Friday, 22 August 2014

Visits to Shrewsbury

We have been to Shrewsbury three or four times. I have a vague recollection of us driving along a road, green land like a park on our left and urban on our right. My memory has always thought this to have been in Shrewsbury. Of course I could be utterly mistaken - you know the memory can play tricks - and we were driving in another place and I have transposed Shrewsbury upon it. Even if I'm not and I haven't, I have no idea where we would have been going on that journey or even when.

Either on that journey or during what I shall now call our first visit to Shrewsbury I do remember seeing at ground floor level an old white building with one or two steps leading to the door. On each side of the door were hanging baskets and on the pavement two half barrels or similar containers overflowing with flowers which somebody was watering. This image has for some reason haunted me, and made me want to return and explore the town more. On our next two visits, as well as online, I have tried to locate this building but without success. But if where I saw this image wasn't Shrewsbury then I wouldn't find it, would I?

Our definite first visit  to Shrewsbury was in 1995 or thereabouts. We had booked a few days bed and breakfast at Tankerville Lodge, on the edge of Stiperstones. The property was unique, having a disused lead mine either in or accessible from the garden.

For information about the mine see 

Tankerville Lodge is still there but no longer seems to be a B&B.

We took Billy, our boisterous young Border Collie. Because of his behaviour he had to sleep in the car, obviously with frequent checks on his welfare. We made up for it by taking him for long walks on Stiperstones and making sure he was out of the car as much as possible.

At this point in our lives we weren't into recording our memories to share with other people so there are but few pictures and those that are shown are scanned prints so the quality is not so good.

On one of the days we visited Shrewsbury. We wanted to see Shrewsbury Abbey so walked through the town to the English Bridge to find the river in (what seemed to us) flood. We also seem to remember a multistory car park on the town side of the bridge, which we thought rather out of keeping with the ancient ambience. We crossed the bridge to the Abbey Foregate then had to take it in turns to go inside the Abbey, one of us staying outside with Billy while the other went in. Opposite was the Shrewsbury Quest, a recreated twelfth century monastery inspired by the Cadfael novels of Ellis Peters, which opened in 1994, the same year as the Cadfael television series started. Having Billy with us we didn't go in but vowed to do so on our next visit.

When we were travelling Billy used to love sitting on the parcel shelf.

This picture of him taken during our holiday was later translated into a hand knitted piece. (Link to follow.)

We had our main meals in the Tankerville Arms in Longden, conveniently on our evening route back to Tankerville Lodge. Generous portions, including freshly picked local wild berries. There was a shop attached, small but stocked everything.

Leaving for home Dave decided to drive along the Long Mynd to Church Stretton. We had a three wheel Reliant Rialto. The road was narrow, with a very long vertical drop on my side but the side of the mountain on his. Skilled driving did nothing for me. I was scared stupid. Then the car skidded on some gravel. Enough was enough! Screaming for Dave to stop I got out of the car and somehow managed to get myself pinned with my back against the solid mountain wall. Then it was small side steps, clinging to the solid ground beneath and behind me until I reached the town. I don't think I was very popular with the other drivers but I had never been so frightened in my life, before or since!

Our second visit to Shrewsbury was on a coach holiday with Shearings, 12th to 16th May 2008 to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. We stayed at the Prince Rupert Hotel, in room 113. Billy had died in 2005.

The hotel is in Butcher's Row ...

... almost opposite Grope Lane.

We had one of the modern rooms but this didn't stop us exploring the older parts of the building.

On one occasion we went into the basement and found the exercise equipment and the like. We also found a courtyard and let ourselves out to have a look. The door closed behind us and we couldn't get back in. After an initial panic a quick search found the door leading from the courtyard into the street through which we were able to escape and walk back to the front entrance.

There was no entertainment provided at the hotel but we didn't mind. Having quality food cooked to order and good company was enough. We were also able to spend some of the evening before nightfall exploring the town.

On the first night dinner was in the prestigious Chambers Bar and Bistro although it might have been called Chambers-something-else then.

I dressed for dinner but found other people arriving in jeans, T-shirts and the like so didn't bother too much for the rest of the stay.

Our meals on the other evenings were in the Royalist Restaurant, which again might have had another name in 2008.

We were glad to be able to spend a day in the town and had planned to visit the Shrewsbury Quest. However, this had closed in 2001 and the premises were - and still are - occupied by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. We visited the Trust after spending some time at the Abbey.

Our visit to St Mary's Church could have been a disaster when a piece of masonry fell as if from nowhere and just missed Dave's head. We took the offending object to the woman who seemed to be 'on duty' and when we eventually managed to grasp her attention her attitude was less than unconcerned.

This window in St Mary's Church was made in the 16th century and features a rare collection of continental glass. The window was smashed on 16th May 2014, six years almost to the day after our visit, and will cost £15,000 to repair.

As well as seeing the sights, it was during this visit that we walked along the Town Walls. Beautiful views but the drop on the other side didn't look so pleasing.

The Old Market Hall.

Statue of Robert Clive (Clive of India) in The Square. 

Castle Street looking towards the railway station. 
With Dave constantly fluctuating in weight from slim and sexy to a beached whale, he has a selection of wedding rings so that he always has one that fits. As it was our wedding anniversary I bought him a multicoloured ring which is hard to describe: irridescent colours, like oil on a puddle. He offered to buy me a matching one and, like an idiot, I refused.

There were excursions on this holiday, to Ironbridge with all its attractions and a train journey. (Link to separate blog to follow.)

Our third visit to Shrewsbury was on Thursday 17th July 2014 when we were staying at Wellington for the 50th anniversary of the RAF Boy Entrants 48th Entry Passing Out celebrations. Shrewsbury is only a short journey from Wellington on the train.

Shrewsbury Castle is next to the train station. We had not visited the Castle before and were disappointed to find it closed on Thursdays. The Shropshire Regimental Museum is housed there.

However, we admired the superbly well kept gardens ... 

... and managed the uphill walk and climb to Laura's Tower with its magnificent views of the town and countryside.
Shrewsbury Castle from Laura's Tower.

Shrewsbury Railway Station from Laura's Tower.

Railway on the left and Shrewsbury Abbey on the right.
Close by is the Library, with the statue of Charles Darwin outside the front.

The day was hot and by now we were thirsty so went into McDonald's at 11 Pride Hill to escape the heat and to quench our thirst with a cold shake. The ground floor was as one would expect but reserved for disabled and elderly people and people with prams and buggies. I followed the sign for "100 seats downstairs" to enter a breathtaking scene never before experienced in a McDonald's. Part of the town wall, built between 1220 and 1252, forms part of the external wall on the lower ground floor. The restaurant is furnished sympathetically, and there is a mirrored pillar crammed with information about the building. Even if you don't like McDonald's, if you are ever in Shrewsbury it is worthwhile popping in and buying a drink just to have a look.

Children's area, mezzanine floor.
View from the window in children's area on lower ground floor.

Lighting on loweer ground floor.

Window on lower ground floor

Window on lower ground floor.
Our next purpose was to scour the Pride Hill, Darwin and Riverside shopping centres looking for a ring identical to the one I had bought for Dave for him to buy for me. We couldn't remember in which shopping centre we had bought his ring and after two or three circuits of all three we had to admit defeat.

We took a nostalgic walk around the St Mary's Church, St Alkmund's Church and the Prince Rupert Hotel area before wending our way back to the railway station.

St Mary's Church.
St Alkmund's Church.
St Alkmund's Church.
St Alkmund's Church/Prince Rupert Hotel area.

Shrewsbury town interactive map

Copyright © Pauline Hornsby 2014

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