Shrewsbury, Shropshire and the theory of evolution

Glynis with Charles DarwinCharles Darwin is well known for his theory of evolution – well Charles’s home town has now evolved into a beautiful, interesting, historic place that is ‘tucked’ in the shadow of the Welsh hills, it is a place I am sure he would have been proud to call his home.

Shrewsbury is like going back in time, with a modern twist.  It has timber clad buildings dating back to the 15th century and newer 1960’s monstrosities including the market hall, but there are fewer ‘new’ builds that don’t deter the travellers eye when walking around the town centre. Quintessentially English as how I would describe the town, from its Red Stone Castle to its Charles Darwin statue near the library to the town square that at weekends can be full of music and entertainment to the weekly market that draws in people from all around the surrounding areas.

Morris dancers walking through the streets of ShrewsburyOur hotel was the Lion and the Pheasant situated at the side of the English Bridge, this quaint, timbered structured hotel is converted shop rooms that have uneven floors and low beams but has been renovated to a high standard with excellent fixtures and fittings, however it is not disabled friendly.  The food and ambiance is very good and breakfast was a treat.  The Town Centre is very accessible just a short walk up a hill – not too steep to get to the boutique shops and little alley ways that are worth exploring. Walk  along the higgledy-piggledy streets named the Wyle Cop, Dog Pole, Grope Lane and Shoplatch with many other fascinating walk ways that sound like something out of a Harry Potter book but are names that have been in this town for many, many years.

Belly dancers at St Mary's ChurchThe meandering River Severn almost surrounds the town and was a big deterrent when the lords where fighting for the lands between England and Wales, hence the English Bridge and the Wales Bridge.  The river walk has interest and beauty and takes you away from the ‘maddening crowds’, but lots of paths and walk ways lead you back to the town centre.  If you wish to take a more leisurely pace take a trip on the River Boat Sabrina – yes Sabrina! – Severn and Sabrina are two versions of the same name – Roman and English, the cost is £5.40 for seniors.  Get your tickets from the information area at the Castle or the Welsh Bridge and enjoy the views from the river.  If you do walk around the river walk over the Welsh Bridge and call at the Boat House pub/restaurant.  It is a very welcome break and is one of Shrewsbury’s historic pubs and the Shropshire Gold beer is worth a try.

If you have ever seen the film Christmas Carol then the streets of Shrewsbury are the ones the film makers used, it was filmed entirely on location, the ‘grave stone’ of Ebenezer Scrooge ‘lies’ in St Chads Church graveyard – the gravestone is fictional as was the character.  Some other famous names from the area are Clive of India, Wilfred Owen and Percy Thrower, one of Britain’s best known gardeners was a parks superintendent and the layout of the Quarry Park is his legacy to Shrewsbury.  Morris dancers at St Alkmunds church squareOur weekend coincided with Shropshire Folk Weekend, and the town was buzzing, Morris dancers and musicians  from all over the country come to Shrewsbury to perform at the Festival but they also perform in the town centre.  It is an excellent and typically English scene full of fun and colour.  The County of Shropshire has many things to offer the visitor.  Ironbridge is 13 miles away and is the site of the first iron bridge and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.  Blists Hill is a living museum which reconstructs a town of the 1800’s.  Acton Burnell Castle is a ruined castle of the late 1200’s.  The Shropshire tourist information office will be delighted to send you maps and booklets. 

Charles Darwin and Percy Thrower ‘sowed’ the seeds of growth and evolution in different ways, living in this haven of English countryside must have brought them joy and beauty.  Celebrate the diversity and individuality of this welcoming part of our heritage and spend time tracing the past whilst living in the present.

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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