Bridgnorth, sited high on a red sandstone ridge, is an ancient market town overlooking the River Severn. It was, for many centuries, a thriving river port. The town is divided into two levels, High Town and Low Town. They are linked by an inland railway and a bridge which gives the town its name. Tour of the town:
Town Hall: timber framed building built after the civil war, completed in 1652; sandstone arched based faced in brick; building was altered in the 18th century.
Church Street to St Leonard’s: alms houses established in 1503 and rebuilt 1792. St Leonard’s church occupies highest part of the town; original church dated before 1250 but present red sandstone one is mostly Victorian.
Hospital: almshouses dating from 1687, rebuilt 1889 with stone ground floor and “half-timbered” upper floor.
Grammar School Dormitories: three 17th century brick faced houses with three-light stone mullioned windows, diagonally set chimney stacks; one was a school house; one was home for school-master, third was home for vicar of St Leonard’s church.
Grammar School: built 1629.
Richard Baxter’s: house occupied by famous Puritan preacher 1640-41; he was once curate of St Leonard’s.
Friary: extensive remains of Franciscan friary constructed 13th century; masonry, tiles and glass uncovered.
North Gate: only gate still left of five original fortifications; museum over the arches; adjacent timber framed buildings date from 17th century.
King’s Head: timber framed inn with three gables and diagonal struts. Passage leads to coach yard and stables; the Raven on the opposite side of streets dates from 1646.
St Mary’s Street: street from mid 1100s; brick facing behind which timber-framed buildings on narrow plots with side passage that lead to long gardens with workshops and cottages.
Crane’s Alley: two open fronted shops on High St with alley between, timber-framed houses extend behind the narrow frontage.
The Swan: mid 17th century coaching inn with yard behind; next to it is 19th century painted brick building; opposite the Swan is timber-framed building with four caryatids for 2nd floor overhang.
New Market Buildings: Italianate style, built in 1855 for street market traders.
Waterloo Terrace: leads down steps to cliff railway and castle Hill walk.
Once the route between Low Town, the river wharfs and High Town; ribbed brick paving was to help pack donkeys negotiate it; sandstone caves used as family homes until 1856.
Bishop Percy’s: timber-framed house built 1580.
Bridge view: offers views toward High Town; rebuilt 1823 using Thomas Telford design.
Lavington’s Hole: tunnel begun by Colonel Lavington in civil war who wanted to blow up St Mary’s church where Royalists housed ammunitions; not completed as Royalists surrendered.
Castle Hill Railway: inland cliff railway opened in 1892; 201 feet long with vertical rise of 111 feet; now electric driven.
Theatre on the Steps: half way up Stoneway Steps with cast iron kerbs; former 18th century Congregationalist church.
Severn Valley Railway: northern end of the railway that used to run in a tunnel under High Town; beyond the station is Pampudding Hill thought to have been iron age hill fort.
Castle ruins: site of pre-Norman conquest castle rebuilt by Robert de Belesme 1098-1101; part of keep tower leans due to attempted demolition after civil war.
East Castle St: once part of castle outer bailey; street dates from 1768; former castle governor’s house in brick with stone trim, dates from c1633; late Georgian houses; St Mary’s church once attached to the castle, rebuilt in 1792 from Thomas Telford design.
Bridgnorth is located on the A458/B4364/A/A442, west of Wolverhampton, Shropshire.
Photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
High Street by Reinter Tegtmeyer; St Leonard church view by Gordon Griffiths; hospital by Steve McShane; Low Town by Tom Pennington; Cartway and Bishop Percy house by Derek Harper; bridge by Trevor King; railway by Ian Slater; rail station by Debbie Wingfield; castle keep by Robert Edwards; St Mary Church by Geoff Pick
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