We dislike going into town with too many people, noisy shops and traffic. Towns seem to make people need to hurry and forget manners and even forget how to smile, hence we visit as little as possible. During lockdown we found it necessary to go into our nearest town Shrewsbury. It felt a different place with so few shoppers around and little traffic.
Decades of destruction has changed the face of Shrewsbury when poor planning decisions were made allowing dozens of beautiful, architecturally important buildings to be demolished to make way for very poor buildings to take their place and in one area, Frankwell the heart of a mediaeval village within the town boundaries was ripped out to make room for a roundabout! Despite this our county town has over 300 listed buildings remaining today.
Hidden behind the main streets of the town down a narrow road can be found a beautiful area around open lawn with mature trees and two churches bounded on one side by rambling medieval buildings, the Bear Steps.
We left this area by following a narrow passageway called Grope Lane. Shrewsbury has its own name for these narrow alleys, “shuttes”, but the steep one we took is called simply ‘lane’. It took us down into the High Street where we made for the Market Square. This area is home to an interesting array of architectural styles, but sadly some of our favourites were hidden behind scaffolding.
From the square we made our way towards another open area, the home of the original St Chads church. Today it presents as a green space dotted with seats for locals to rest and chat upon. The only stone work showing is a red sandstone chapel. The main church collapsed and was reduced to a pile of rubble overnight back in 1788. Thomas Telford designed its replacement which is still standing near the town park. I have a photo of the new church in my next blog – part two of this wander around Shrewsbury.
We left the openness of the green space and wandered back into town, via quiet red-bricked backstreets. We were aiming for Wyle Cop, a steep shopping street full of ancient attractive buildings housing unusual shops.
We took the lane between the red-brick old mill building and the stone-built imposing building which was once a cinema, aiming for the walkway alongside the river. (see part two)