William West.

Picturesque views and description of cities, towns, castles, mansions, and other objects of interesting feature, in Shropshire, from original designs, taken expressly for this work, by Frederick Calvert, engraved on steel dy [sic] Mr. T. Radclyffe, with historical and topographical illustrations online

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Online LibraryWilliam WestPicturesque views and description of cities, towns, castles, mansions, and other objects of interesting feature, in Shropshire, from original designs, taken expressly for this work, by Frederick Calvert, engraved on steel dy [sic] Mr. T. Radclyffe, with historical and topographical illustrations → online text (page 1 of 18)
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Although Shropssiire has not, like most of our Counties, had to boast
ofany great or elaborate Historian, yet various portions of its Antiquities,
Historical Associations, and its Picturesque Beauties, have been ably and
interestingly described in various detached Publications, which rank beyond
what are usually termed "Guides ;" and as they enter very fully into descrip-
tions of particular places, remarkable for their Antiquities, Public Buildings,
and Institutions, we shall duly notice them, particularly in a description of
Shrewsbury. Ludlow, &c. &c.

Mr. Nightingale's History of the County, as attached to, and forming a
portion of, the ''Beauties of England and Wales," is perhaps the most full
and general description of it. He states in his Preface, that he engaged Mr.
Rylance to make an actual Survey of this interesting County, and that from
the fruit of his friend's exertions, aided by the obliging communications of se-
veral gentlemen resident in Shrewsbury and other places, and by availing
himself of the little which printed materials furnished, he drew up his account.
This account was pualished in 1813. Great alterations and improvements,
have subsequently taken place, which will be duly noticed.



It is not, however, within the scope or view of the present Work, to
enter into a dry, elaborate, or too lengthened detail of what has been so
frequently repeated in numerous productions. The heads only, and material
points will be given — Picturesque Delineations, and Descriptions of Scenery,
and the principal Seats of the Nobility and Gentry, being the avowed objects
of the Editor and of the Proprietor.

Descriptive heads of the principal Towns will necessarily be given, with
their Topographical Situation ; Populatian — Agricultural and Commercial ;
the Public Buildings, Institutions, &c. &c.




Salop, (as frequently called Shropshire) an inland County of England, in the shape of an
irregular parallelogram, is bounded by Denbigh, a detached part of Flintshire, and by
Cheshire on the North; by Staffordshire on the East; by Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire,
and Denbighshire, on the West ; and by Worcestershire, and Herefordshire, on the South'
Its extreme length from North to South, is about forty miles, and its breadth from East to
West, thirty-five miles. Its circumference is computed at 218, and containing 1341 square
miles, or 858,250 acres, constituting about a forty-fifth portion of England and Wales. The
County is divided into fifteen hundreds or divisions, viz. — Oswestry, Pimhill, North and
South Bradford, and Brimley, on the North-East side of the Severn ; the liberty of Shrews-
bury and the franchises of Wenlock, and the hundred of Stoddesden, extending on both
banks of that river ; the hundreds of Ford, Chirbury, Candover, Munslow, Overs, Purslow,
and the honour of Chin, on the South-west side of the Severn. Shropshire contains 229
Parochial Churches, out of the ^o^a^ number of 262, and the County is partly in the Dioceses
of Hereford, Lichfield and Coventry, and St. Asaph, and comes within the Oxford Circuit.

The salubrity of the air, the fineness of the soil, and the picturesque beauty of Salop,
is universally acknowledged, yet it appears from the average scale of mortality for the last
ten years, that one out of fifty-eight of the total population die annually ; this appears a
vast number, when compared with some other places that are more densely populated, and
are considered so much less^alubrious and less healthy : for instance, in the large manu-
facturing town of Birmingham, one out of thirty-five only, die annually, out of a population
of upv/ards of 140,000 !— It is true that at Manchester, (where the manufactories are more
crowded and less healthy) one out of thirty-seven die annually ; and in the metropolis one
out of thirty-one. A modern topographer (Capper) states that there are mines of lead-ore
of a good quality, on the eastern side of the County, which have been productive, and that
in some of these mines tools have been found, a few of which have been preserved in the
library of the Free-school at Shrewsbury. Calamine is also met with, and the rock of Pim-
hill is strongly tinctured with copper. Symptoms both of lead and copper appear on the
Cardino'ton hills. Coal of the best quality, is also found on the eastern side of the county,
which not only supply the domestic consumption, but also the extensive iron manufac-
tories around and leave a surplus for exportation.


This County is also productive of excellent materials for buildin;^, having a good stone
fit for that purpose, and limestone contiguous to the coal.

Near Shrewsbuiy, at a place named Pitchford, a mineral pitch exudes from a red sand-
stone, and a manufactory of coal tar is earned on south of the Severn.

Many rivers, exclusive of the canals, ornament and fertilise this fine County. The Severn
flows, and is navigable, from the north-east to the south-east part of tlie county, M-ithout a
single lock or weir, from Poolquay, Montgomeryshire, to the mouth of the Avon, near
Bristol, a distance of upwards of 150 miles. There are besides the rivers Camlet, Clun,
Cundbrooke, also the Perry, the Teme, Vymey, and the Weaver, with several smaller
and tributary streams.

Some of the lakes in Shropshire are also extensive as to occupy from 50 to 100 acres of
land. Salt-springs have also been found near North Bradford.

Canal navigation is peculiarly accommodating in this County, for independent of their
being everywhere distributed over an extensive and fertile portion of the country, they com-
bine, and are so connected with others, as to render the greatest facilit; ; s lo trade and manu-
factures. Capper truly remarks, that " accommodation by canal-navigation in Shropshire
is very considerable by means of the Shropshire, the Shrewsbury, the Ketley, the Elles-
inere, and other Canals. The Shropshire Canal may be called a system of water-levels and
inclined planes ; its general direction is from north to south, and it commt^nces in the Severn
at Coalport. The Shrewsbury Canal commences in that town, and terminates in the Shrop-
shire Canal. This canal was completed in 1792, and is ssid to have cost between 40 and
£50,000. The Shrewsbury Canal was completed is 1797. The Ellesmere Canal unites with
the Severn, Mersey, and Dee, communicating with the ports of Bristol and Liverpool. These
Communications are of the utmost advantage to their manufactories, which consist of a
superior article of blue, and white and gold China, that now t^es with thrit of the East.

The manufacturing of flannel, broad-cloth, Welch flannels, linens, cottons, mineral-tar,
and cast-iron, has been carried on to a considerable extent.

The general produce of the County are wheat and other grain, coal, iron, lead, lime-
stone, &c.

The county contains seventeen market-towns, nine smaller towns or villages, having fairs
but no markets. It sends 12 members to Parliament, viz. two for shire, and two for each
of the boroughs of Shrewsbury, Bishop's Castle, Bridgenorth, Ludlow, and Wenlock.

According to the Parliamentary Returns of 1821, the whole county was stated as con-
taining 38,663 houses, and 206,153 inhabitants, viz. 102,056 males, and 104,087 females,
of whom 17,485 families were employed in trade, and 18,414 in agriculture.

The gross amount of the assessed taxes in 1815, was £1,037,988., and the amount of
the poors '-rate, in the same year, was £131,287., at the rate of 2s. 6j^d. in the pound.

Mr. Nightingale commences his account of Shropshire, by truly remarking that of the
beauties of England, perhaps no county contains a more interesting share than the one now


under consideration. It possesses every natural charm; the bold and lofty mountain; the
woody and secluded valley; the fertile and widely-cultured plain ; the majestic river, and
the sequestered lake. It is no less rich in those remains of ancient times, which awaken
a thousand enthusiastic reflections, by engaging us in the contemplation of the memorable
events of our history. Besides these claims to the attention of the Topographer and the An-
tiquary, it has others of a more substantial, though less brilliant kind, which equally en-
gage the notice of the Statistical enquirer. The rich stores of iron, lead, coal and stone ;
the increasing manufactories, and the agricultural improvements of this flourishing dis-
trict, have raised it high in the scales of national importance, while its inland naviga-
tion has rendered it an emporium of the trade between England and Wales, and a
grand centre of connnection to the inland counties of the kingdom.

Shropshire, at the time of the Roman invasion, was occupied by the Comavii and the
Ordovices : of the foimer little is known ; of the latter, their enterprising and warlike spirit,
and their junction with the Silures under Caractacus, a renowned British king, in defending
their country, is upon record. This County was at that period divided between the Cornavii
and the Ordovices by the Severn. Caractacus occupied two military posts, and the re-
mains of his encampments are still to be traced in this County, although a difference of
opinion exists respecting his last engagement with Ostorius Scapula ; — Herefordshire as
well as Salop, claiming the field of action upon which the battle was fought ; and as the des-
cription given by Tacitus was a general one, and no other records remaining to confirm and
particularise it, the dispute remains, and must continue to be undecided. Mr. Nightingale
states that a gentleman of Shrewsbury, who has personally inspected all the military an-
aiquities of his native County, and of those which border upon it, is inclined to suppose that
the only place which can answer the description of Tacitus, is the Breiddeur-hill of Mont«
gomeryshire. The vestiges of a British encampment on its summit, and the course of the
river Severn near its base, are the circumstances on which he grounds his hypotheses ; and,
continues Mr. N., " that Caractacus for a considerable period successfully resisted the pro-
"gress of the Roman conquerors in the hilly country, now forming part of Shropshire, is
manifest from the united testimony of history and tradition ; and this evidence seems to jus-
tify the supposition that he there terminated his military career." Gough, the Great British
antiquary, and the celebrated editor of Camden, is decidedly in fevour of the scene of
action lying in this County, and that a hill, about two miles south of Clun, called Caer
Caradoc, or the Gaer, near the junction of the rivers Clun and Temd, among several dan-
gerous fords, exatcly answers the description of Tacitus.

The result of this battle, and the ultimate fate of Caractacus, as detailed by Tacitus,
has been deemed sufficiently interesting to authorize its insertion in the history of Shrop-
shire — it is as follows :

" P. Ostorius, the Pro-praetor, found things in great disorder in Britain; the enemy having
overrun the lands of our allies with less restraint, as they did not suppose the new gene-


would march against them with an army to which he was a stranger, and at the beginning
of winter. But he, convinced that fear or confidence of an enemy depend on the first
events, marched against them with such troops as were at hand, and cutting to pieces all
who opposed him, pursued the rest, whom he had dispersed, to prevent their collecting
themselves again. Unwilling to trust to a dangerous and uncertain peace, which would
allow new rest to the general or the army, he prepared to disarm the nations whom there was
reason to suspect, and draw a line of camps round them, between the rivers Antona, (Avon)
and Severn. This step was first opposed by the Iceni, a powerful nation, unbroken by the
war, having before voluntarily embraced our alliance. By their advice, the neighbouring
nations appointed a place for battle, enclosed by a rude rampart of earth, with a narrow
entrance inaccessible to horsemen. These works, the Roman general, though he had only
the auxiliary troops of the allies, without the strength of the legions, attempted to force; and
disposing of his cohorts, drew up likewise some troops of horse before the rampart : upon a
signal given, they broke down the work, and fell upon the enemy, entangled in their own
inclosures. A consciousness of their revolt, and despair of escaping, animated them to many
gallant actions. In this battle, M. Ostorius, one of the lieutenants, gained the honour of
having saved the life of a citizen.

" The defeat of the Iceni awed those nations who fluctuated between peace and war, and
the army advanced against the Cangi, whose territories they ravaged, carrying off much
booty ,the enemy not daringto face them, and if they fell upon the rear by surprise, paying dear
for it. The army was now got pretty near the sea that looks towards the island of Ireland,
when disorders arising from the Brigantes, obliged the general to return, he being con-
stantly attentive not to make new conquests till the former advantages were secured. The
Brigantes, after the slaughter of a few who had taken up arms, returned to their obedience,
And obtained forgiveness. But neither severity nor milder measures had any effect on the
Silures, who continued in arms, and required theforce of legions to reduce them. The sooner
to accomplish this, a colony was planted at Camudonum (Colchester) consisting of a nume-
rous body of veterans, who took possession ©f the conquered lands, ready to assist their coun-
trymen against any revolt, and bring their allies to a conformity to our laws. Some cities
were also given to King Cogidunus, agreeable to that ancient usage of the Roman people
to make even kings their instruments to enslave mankind.

'* The army next marched a gainst the Silures, who, besides their own native ferocity, placed
great hopes in the valour of Caractacus, whom the many changes and prosperous turns of
fortune had advanced to a pre-eminence over the rest of the British leaders. He, artfnliy
availing himself of his knowledge of the country, countervailing his inferiority in numbers,
transferred the war into the country of the Odovices, and being joined by those who mis-
trusted the peace subsisting between us, put matters upon a decisive issue, posting himself
on a spot, the approaches and retreats to andjfrom which were as advantageous to his party
as they were perplexing to us. He then drew up the more accessible parts of the highest


hills, a kind of rampart of stone below, and in front of which was a river, difficult to ford
and on the works he placed the troops of soldiers. The respective leaders also went round
to animate and inspirit them, lessening their fears, magnifying their hopes, and urging
every encouragement usual on these occasions. Caractacus, running from one to another,
bade them consider, that the work of that day would be the beginning of new liberty, or
eternal slavery. He set before them the example of their ancestors, who had driven Caesar,
the dictator, out of Britain, and by whose valour ithey had been hitherto preserved from axes
and tributes, and their wives and children from dishonour. The people received these ani-
mating harangues with loud acclamations, engaging themselves by the most solemn rites,
according to the rehgion of their country, never to yield to weapons or wounds. Their re-
solution astonished the Roman general ; and the river in the way, together with the ram-
parts and the steeps, presented to the assailants a formidable and resolute appearance. But
the soldiers were clamorous for the charge, crying, that valour could bear down all oppo-
sition ; and the inferior officers inspiring the same sentiments, gave new courage to the
troops. Ostorius, after reconnoitering the ground to see which part was impenetrable, and
which accessible, led on the eager soldiers, and with much difficulty crossed the river.
When they came to the rampart, while they only threw their darts at a distance, our people
suffered most, and numbers were slain; but closing their ranks, and placing their sliield.4
over them, they presently tore down the rough irregular piles of stones, and coming to close
quarters, obliged the barbarians to retire to the tops of the hills. Thither also both the
light and heavy-armed soldiers followed them, the former attacking them with their spears,
the latter in a body, till the Britons, who had no armour or helmets to shelter them, v.'ere
thrown into confusion ; and if they made any resistance to the auxiliaries, they were cut to
pieces by the swords and spears of the legionaries, against whom, when they turned, they
were destroyed by the broad-swords and javelins of the auxiliaries. This was an illustrious
victory. The wife and daughter of Caractacus were taken, and his brother submitted to
the conqueror. Caractacus himself, by the common insecurity of adversity, throv/ing him-
self upon the protection of Cartismandua, Queen of the Brigantes, was put in irons, and
given up to the conquerors, nine years after the^war first broke out in Britain, His fame
which had reached the islands and the neighbouring provinces, and even Italy, made people
eager to see what kind of a man it was who had so long set our power at defiance. Nor
was the name of Caractacus inconsiderable at Rome. And the Emperor, in advancing his
own glory, added to that of the conquered prince. The people were assembled as to some
great sight. The Prfstorian cohorts were under arms in the field before the camp. First
came the king's dependents and retinue, and the trappings and collars, and the trophies
which he had won in foreign wars; next, hi brothers, his wife and daughter, and las^
himself was presented to the public view. The rest expressed their fears in unworthy sup-
plications. Caractacus neither by his look nor language pleaded pity; and when he cims
before the emperor's seat, expressed himself in these terms:


" Had I made that prudent use of my prosperity which my rank and fortune enabled me
to do, I had come hither rather as a friend than as a prisoner. Nor would you have dis-
dained the alliance of one descended from illustrious ancestors, and sovereign over many
nations. My present condition, disgraceful as it is to myself, reflects glory on you. Pos-
sessed as I once was of horses, men, arms and wealth, what wonder, if I parted from them
with reluctance ! For since universal empire is your object, we must all be slaves. Had
I been given up at the first, neither my fortune, nor your glory would have been set in a
distinguished point of view, and my punishment would have sunk all remembrance of me.
In giving me my life you make me an eternal monument of your clemency."

" The Emperor immediately pardoned Caractacus, his wife, and brothers. As soon as
their chains were taken off, they proceeded to pay their respects, in the same terms as be-
fore, to the Emperor and to Agrippina, who sat on a raised seat not far off. A woman
sitting at the head of the Roman army, among the Roman ensigns, and seeming to com-
mand them, w^as a new sight, and very foreign to the manners of our ancestors. But she
assumed a share in the government, as obtained by her family. The Senate was after-
wards assembled, and many congratulatory speeches were made on the taking of Caractacus.
It seemed as illustrious a sight as when Scipio showed Syphax, Paulus, Perses, and other
generals and conquered kings, to the Roman people ; and the ensigns of a triumph were
decreed to Ostorius."

Shropshire formed a portion of Flavia Caesarensis, during the period that Britain re-
mained subject to the Romans, who founded and fortified the cities of the Cornavii, of
which Wroxeter, or Uttoxeter, was one of the principal. The Roman highway, called Wat-
ling-street, passed into the eastern part of this County, between Crackley Bank and Wes-
ton, and takes a bending course into Herefordshire on the southern borders.

This portion of the County was the theatre of war on the decline of the Roman Empire,
when it became exposed to more barbarous invaders, and contests continued for a length
of time between the Britons and the Saxons. The Britons held it as part of the kingdom
of Powisland, of which Pengwerna, now Shrewsbury, was the capital. Subsequently the
County was incorporated with Mercia at the establishment of the Heptarchy, but this was
after a contest of a century and a half. The British Princes, notwithstanding their long
contest for the possessions of their forefathers, were compelled by King Offa, and a confede-
racy of Saxon princes, to retreat among the mountains of Powis, frequently making inroads
on the usurpers. Mr. Nightingale observes that " the evils attending these hostilities in-
duced Offa to cause a deep dyke and rampart to be made, which extended one hundred
miles along the mountainous border of Wales, from the Clwyddian Hills to the mouth of
the Wye. Part of this dyke may be traced at Brachy Hill and Leintwardine in Hereford-
shire, continuing from Knighton in Radnorshire, over part of Shropshire, entering Mont-
gomeryshire between Bishop's Castle and Newtown. It is again visible in Shropshire near
Llaneymenech, crosses the race-course near Oswestry, descends to the Ceriog near Chirk,


where it again enters Wales, and terminates in the parish of Mold, in Flintshire. This
work answered very little purpose as a line of defence, or even of boundary: the Welsh
continued their incursions far into the borders, and in their hasty retreats often carried with
them immense spoil to their native mountains, pursuing the mode of warfare common to
all savage nations.

This part of the kingdom of Mercia shared in calamity from the incursions of the Danes
in the ninth century, and, although not so extensively as other places, its total subjugation
was frequently threatened. — Shrewsbury, to which the Saxons applied the synonymous term
of Scrobbesbyrig, flourished by the reverses of the Danes ; and Alfred, after expelling them,
ranked Shrewsbury among the first of his cities, and bestowed upon it the name of the shire
of which it is the capital. The Welsh, however, obstinately disputed the western boundaries,
and Prince GrifFyd, in the time of Edward the Confessor, not only made formidable
inroads into this part of the country, but caused such general terror, that Harold undertook
a naval and military expedition against him : in the latter, his cavalry and light troops
drove this hardy race into their native fastnesses, and eventually routed them with such
success, as to send the head of Prince GrifFyd as a proof of their being subdued. Rude
piles of stones were placed upon the Welsh and Salopian mountains, in commemoration of
the warlike achievements of Harold, and upon them were inscribed,

** Hie victor fuit Heraldus."
Here Hai'old was victorious.

According to Nightingale's account, there is still " a doubtful tradition that the rud^

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Online LibraryWilliam WestPicturesque views and description of cities, towns, castles, mansions, and other objects of interesting feature, in Shropshire, from original designs, taken expressly for this work, by Frederick Calvert, engraved on steel dy [sic] Mr. T. Radclyffe, with historical and topographical illustrations → online text (page 1 of 18)