architecture buildings Shropshire townscapes

The Architectural Heritage of Shrewsbury – Shuts and Passages

Shrewsbury is well known for the variety of its architecture and fine examples can be found of many eras and styles within the loop of the River Severn in which the town lies. With locals and visitors alike there is a certain affection for the shuts and passages that sneak between them.

They give you sneak previews of streets you have not yet found, they let you take short cuts, smokers use them to escape the wind when they want to light a match, lovers use them for secret cuddles, and sadly the homeless have to use them for shelter from the cold wind that howls around the tall buildings of Shrewsbury. There shouldn’t be homeless anywhere in the world and in so-called civilised countries like ours there should be none. Sadly homelessness is on the increase. At least our county town has some shelter in the shuts and passages.


We took a wander around the centre of town and took photos of these little alleyways, the good and the bad, the attractive and the ugly. Visiting on the day that the recycling bins were due for collection spoilt many a photo opportunity, but I suppose this juxtaposition of the heritage and beauty from the town’s past should be presented alongside the reality of today’s world. We need everything recycled that can possibly be recycled after all.

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This beautiful gate marked the entrance to one of the few private alleyways.

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Enjoy a peak into a variety of our shuts and passages.

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architecture buildings photography Shropshire townscapes

The Architectural Heritage of Shrewsbury – Rowleys Mansion

In my latest post looking at the architecture of our home county town of Shrewsbury, I want to take a look at what Jude The Undergardener and I both consider as our favourite building here – Rowleys Mansion.


Mr William Rowley was a merchant in Shrewsbury during the reign of Elizabeth I. He made the fortune as a brewer and draper that allowed him to build this magnificent house.Sadly his home now sits surrounded by car parks and must be trembling in every oak beam as buses and trucks pass close by. How can this happen to such a special building? It is an insult to its beauty, its heritage and all the people who have lived in it, worked in it and visited it over centuries. It is currently temporarily housing the town’s Tourist Information Centre as The Music Hall, its full-time home, is being revamped.

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Close up we can see the structure and clues to the construction methods used centuries ago. From this angle we see a huge half-timbered building but as we shall soon discover another entirely different buildings has been built onto it. The huge mighty strong oak beams support the whole structure and these were pegged together.

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We consider graffiti as a modern-day phenomena that is spoiling our environment, but this is untrue. A close look at this ancient building reveals a history of graffiti. Some of these may be marks left by carpenters or construction workers as the old mansion was built.

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This solid heavy-looking door is topped with an oak lintel and below this lintel lies a strip of narrow tile infill, an interesting textural contrast.

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Some of the details such as the iron tie and this little coloured glass window deserve a close up look.

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But what of the other building attached to the old timbered mansion? It is the earliest brick-built building in Shrewsbury and at the time it was built it would have been considered a pioneering material and was used to impress. William Rowley added the mansion to show off his increased wealth.

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Look closely and the textures of the construction materials create interesting cameos.

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At the opposite end of the buildings from the wooden door we looked at early on in this post is the main doorway giving access to the brick building. This old oak door stands within a stone frame with beautiful carved detailing. This is an impressive doorway which says “I have made it!”, the equivalent of today’s big cars!


Let us finish with another view of Rowleys Mansion – the half-timbered end.


architecture buildings Shropshire townscapes

The Architectural Heritage of Shrewsbury Part 2

This is the second post about the architecture of our county town. the photos for the posts were taken in late autumn.

Continuing our journey through the streets, alleys and pathways of Shrewsbury we move away from the station towards the river.

Firstly we go down a narrow steep road where these blue features against the beautiful red stonework of the old town walls caught my eye.

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Just to show that Shrewsbury’s architecture isn’t all about the past we next visit some 20th and 21st century buildings. The first picture shows the dreadful 70’s concrete monstrosity that is the town’s only multi-storey car park with a new building attached to its right. At its base is a row of bus-stops.


When we have a close look at this new building we see that it is a hotel which is still to open. I prefer it to the 70’s building next to it, but we shall have to see how well it weathers.

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The reason that there are so few example of good modern architecture in our county town, is that so many residents are stuck in the past. Any proposals for modern architecture are strongly objected to by many. Below is a sad reflection of this where architects have tried to reflect the town’s medieval heritage. We just ended up with this mock half-timbered shopping centre.


And now off to the riverside! The old centre of Shrewsbury is totally enclosed within a loop of the River Severn.


Below is our wonderful new theatre and the new sculpture created to commemorate Charles Darwin.

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My favourite structure in this part of the town is this pedestrian suspension bridge. It is such a simple but elegant design and certainly invites you to walk over its gentle arching span. It sways as you walk across and the sway gets stronger the more people are crossing over.