Church Stretton sits in a narrow valley in the south Shropshire hill country, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On one side is the Long Mynd and, on the other, the Stretton Hills.
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The town shares the valley with the villages of Little Stretton, All Stretton, and Minton.
Architecturally the town centre is Victorian in style although some black and white timber houses survive. The town square has been a weekly market spot since the time of King John.
St Laurence parish church, on a Saxon foundation, has a Norman nave. It was built c1100. The first church had a nave and small chancel, which was torn down to make the present tower. The tower has transitional arches and Perpendicular work above. A copper sculpture is suspened from the ceiling. The tower has eight bells and a small ‘calling bell’.
The windows in north and south sides of the chancel may be 13th century. The windows in the north and south transepts have memorials to the Sherratt family. A west window dates from 1619. The organ dates from 1883.
A church vestry was added in 1830. Outside the church a north wooden door under a Norman arch was used as a ‘corpse’ door to bring in the dead. Above the north door is a Saxon fertility symbol called a “Sheila na Gig”. Inside the church at the crossing are transitional columns and capitals.
Church Stretton is located on the A49 between Shrewsbury and Ludlow.
Text and photos © by Barbara Ballard except Church Stretton antiques market by Ian Capper courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland