Shropshire is a county worth visiting for its historic villages, beautiful countryside, literary connections, and industrial heritage. It’s also a stepping stone to the country of Wales. In the south are hills, moorlands and valleys with much of the area being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here are the Stiperstones, Long Mynd, Clun forest, and Stretton Hills. Towns and villages include Ludlow, Church Street, Craven Arms, Much Wenlock, All Stretton, and Bishops Castle.
Ludlow castle’s architecture spans the time from the Norman conquest through the 16th century. Its purpose was to help the border defend itself against the Welsh. Ludlow became crown property in 1461 with the crowning of Edward IV and stayed in royal hands for 350 years. It was home to Princes Richard and Edward who disappeared into the Tower of London never to be seen again.
The 12th century church is the resting place of A.E. Housman, famous Shropshire poet. The castle isn’t Ludlow’s only famous historic building. There are over 500 listed ones. The Feathers Hotel dates from 1521 and still welcomes guests. The local museum gives a town history. A. E. Housman is buried in St Laurence’s church.
Wenlock Edge, a limestone escarpment is a favourite with walkers. Views reach in all directions. At the end of the ridge the village of Much Wenlock provides scenery of a different kind. Half-timbered buildings include a 16th century guildhall.
The ruins of Wenlock Priory are of interest. Founded in 680, it was pillaged by the Danes, then rebuilt. The 350-foot long nave made it one of England’s longest monastic churches. A lavatorium has carved marble panels.
Shipton Hall near Much Wenlock was built c1587 is an excellent example of Elizabethan architecture. There are Georgian additions to this family home. A Saxon church sits on the grounds.
The town of Bishops Castle was once on the Drover’s trail. There are two local history museums and historic buildings. Clun lies in the Clun forest (treeless) and has a 14th century packhorse bridge and the ruins of a Norman castle.
Stokesay Castle is near the town of Craven Arms. It is a well-preserved 13th century fortified manor house. The gatehouse is timber-framed, and the great hall retains its original medieval staircase.
The grounds of the castle ruins at Bridgnorth are a public park. The town is also home to the Severn Valley Railway where steam trains follow a 12-mile journey in the summertime.
North Shropshire is known for its mossy meres, sandstone hills, and 46 miles of canal. Here are the towns of Ellesmere (beside a glacial mere) with its Georgian houses and half-timbered buildings, Wem, Whitchurch, and Market Drayton (go there for the gingerbread). Attractions include the Hawkstone Park Follies, Wollerton Old Hall, and Hodnet Hall Gardens.
Hawkstone Park and Follies were created in the 18th century in hilly terrain. It’s seen by footpath that traverses ravines, arches, bridges, cliffs, woodlands, and caves—allow 3.5 hours for a complete circuit.
In the north is the town of Shrewsbury, home of Brother Cadfael of literary and TV fame. There’s a scenic walk around the old town that sits almost surrounded by the river Severn. Poet A. E. Housman immortalized it with these words, “High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam, islanded in Severn Stream.” Boat trips on the river are on offer.
Shrewsbury has over 660 listed buildings. Medieval buildings grew up around the town’s Norman castle, turned into a home, then into council chambers. It’s now the site of the Shropshire Regimental Museum. Queen Anne and Georgian buildings add to the mix of black and white houses. A particularly good example is Rowley’s House, a late 16th century Tudor merchant’s home. It’s is now the local history museum and art gallery.
Across the bridge is the Benedictine abbey (now the parish church). The abbey was founded in 1083 and holds the remains of the tomb of St Winefride. There’s a historical exhibition.
Weston Park, close to Shrewsbury, was built in 1671 and houses a collection of paintings, furniture, and objects d’art. There are 1000 acres of parkland, woodland, and landscaped grounds by ‘Capability’ Brown. For the kids there’s a pet corner, adventure playground, miniature railway and deer park.
Attingham Park is a late 18th century house set in parkland. Italian furniture and a large silver collection are on view along with a picture gallery. There are costumed guided tours.
Wroxeter Roman City is the ruins of one of Rome’s largest cities. It covered 200 acres of land, two miles of walls and housed 5000 people. Much is unexcavated.
Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site of industrial locations that went full tilt in the 18th century. They are the result of Abraham Darby pioneering the use of coke to smelt iron (1709). This was the beginning of affordable engineering and led to the rise of the area’s industries. Here is the world’s first iron bridge, built in 1779. Ten museums provide a complete look at the industrial heritage of the area. The Museum of the Gorge gives the details of the history. Dale House is where plans for the Ironbridge were worked out by Abraham Darby III.
The Museum of Iron is home to the original Darby furnace used to smelt iron. Coalport China Museum and Tar Tunnel, in its restored china works, displays their national collections and gives demonstrations of their craft. Tar tunnel oozes bitumen from its walls.
Enginuity is an interactive technology centre of special interest to budding engineers. Jackfield Tile Museum was the centre of the decorative tile industry. Broseley Pipeworks is where clay tobacco pipe making took place. More attractions are the Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture, a Victorian police station and old courthouse and the Maws Craft Centre.
Children will enjoy Blists Hill Victorian Town, built on the banks of the Shropshire Canal. Wander around the town streets to visit shops, a working foundry, a grocers, printing shop, bakers, a working foundry, cottage gardens, a pub and much more. Costumed staff are on hand to lend authenticity to the experience.
The 17th century hunting lodge Boscobel House is remembered because of its connection with the Royal Oak in the grounds. It was said that Charles II hid in the tree after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, thus escaping Cromwell and going on to become King of England. A tour gives all the details including hiding holes in the house. A farmyard, smithy, and exhibition round off a visit.
Shropshire is home to a large number of gardens open to visitors, including those under the National Garden Scheme. Hodnet Hall Gardens, Wollerton Old Hall Gardens, and Burford House Gardens are worth visiting.
Other English Heritage historic sites of interest are medieval Langley Chapel (at Acton Burnell); Lilleshall Abbey (at Oakengates) with its extensive ruins and ancient yew trees; Haughmond Abbey (at Upton Magna), a 12th century chapter house with medieval timber ceiling and sculpture; and Buildwas Abbey (Iron Bridge), a 12th century abbey with an almost complete church.
A fantastic family day out can be found at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm. It demonstrates life on a Shropshire upland farm at the turn of the 20th century with people involved in farm tasks using the same methods as the Victorians did. There are shire horses, farmyard, and field animals. Some of the activities, depending on the day you visit, consist of milking and butter churning, blacksmith forge work, sheep-shearing, lambing, cider making and steam powered threshing. You can even stay on site and choose self-catering houses, bed and breakfast, or camping.
For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.
Acton Scott Historic Working Farm
Wenlock Lodge, Acton Scott
Signed from A49 near Church Stretton
Tel. 0 1694 781 307
For photos and full details see our article Acton Scott Historic Working Farm
Web: Acton Scott Historic Working Farm
Atcham village, four miles from Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1743 708 123 (info line)
Tel. 0 1952 882 159
Boscobel House and the Royal Oak
Minor road between A41 and A5 near Wolverhampton
Tel. 0 1902 850 224
On river Severn on A4169
Clun, near Craven Arms
Tel. 0 121 625 6820
Half mile from junction of B4555/B4363 roads out of Bridgnorth, WV16 5JL
Tel. 0 1746 762 753
Web: Daniels Mill
Quatt, four miles from Bridgnorth
Tel. 0 1746 780 866
Upton Magna, 3 miles north-east of Shrewsbury
Off the B5062
Tel. 0 1743 709 661
Hawkstone Park and Historic Follies
Weston-under-Redcastle, near Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1939 200 611
Hodnet Hall Gardens
Hodnet, Market Drayton, on the A53 north of Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1630 685 786
Web: Hodnet Hall Gardens
Ironbridge Gorge Bridge and Museums
Ironbridge Gorge; Exit J4 of M54
Tel. 0 121 625 6820; 01952 884 391 (Tourist Information Centre)
Web: Ironbridge Gorge Museums
Near Acton Burnell
Oakengates, on minor road 1.5 miles from Acton Burnell
Tel. 0 121 625 6820 (regional office)
Uffington, off the B4380
Tel. 0 1743 709 215
Castle Square, Ludlow
Tel. 0 1584 873 355
Web: Ludlow Castle
Much Wenlock Guildhall
Tel. 0 1952 727 509
Moreton Corbet Castle
Moreton Corbet, near Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 121 625 6820
Royal Air Force Museum and National Cold War Exhibition
Tel. 01902 376 200
Web: National Cold War Exhibition
Seven miles south-west of Much Wenlock
Tel. 0 1746 785 4225
Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1743 232 723
Web: Shrewsbury Abbey
Shrewsbury Castle and Shropshire Regimental Museum
Castle St, Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1743 358 516
Web: Shrewsbury Museums
Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
Barker St, Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1743 361 196
Web: Shrewsbury Museums
Staunton Country Park
Just north of Havant, between A3 and B2149
Access from Middle Park Way, off B2149
Tel. 0 1705 453 405
One mile south of Craven Arms
Tel. 0 1588 672 544
Onibury, near Craven Arms
Tel. 0 1584 856 238
Web: Stokesay Court
Upton Cressett Hall
Tel. 0 1746 714 308
Web: Upton Cressett Hall
Tel. 0 1952 727 466
Weston-under-Lizard, near Shifnal
Tel. 0 1952 852 100
Web: Weston Park
Whittington, Oswestry, on the A495
Tel. 0 1691 662 397
Web: Whittington Castle
For photos and more information see our article Whittington Castle
Longville, Much Wenlock
Seven miles east of Church Stretton
Tel. 0 870 770 6090
Wollerton Old Hall Gardens
Wollerton, near Market Drayton
Tel. 0 1630 685 760
Web: Wollerton Old Hall Garden
Wroxeter Roman City
Wroxeter, five miles east of Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1743 76 1330
Shropshire Tourist Information Centres
The Library, Listley St, Bridgnorth
Tel. 0 1746 763 257
Church Stretton TIC
Church St, Church Stretton
Tel. 0 1694 723 133
The Mereside, Ellesmere
Tel. 01691 622 981
The Tollhouse (On the Ironbridge)
Bower Yard, Ironbridge
Tel. 0 1952 432 166
Castle St, Ludlow
Tel. 0 1584 875 053
Market Drayton TIC
49 Cheshire St, Market Drayton
Tel. 0 1630 652 139
Much Wenlock TIC
The Museum, High St, Much Wenlock
Tel. 0 1952 727 679
The Heritage Centre, 2 Church Terrace, Oswestry
Tel. 0 1691 662 753
Mile End Services, Oswestry
Tel. 0 1691 662 488
The Music Hall, The Square, Shrewsbury
Tel. 0 1743 281 200
The Telford Centre, Management Suite, Telford
Tel. 0 1952 238 008 (0 1952 238 009)
12 St Mary's St, Whitchurch
Tel. 0 1948 664 577
Shropshire Official Tourist Information
Shropshire Wildlife Trust
Insider Tip: the National Trust provides walking maps for the Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge. On summer weekends a shuttle bus takes you from Church Stretton up to the Long Mynd, and then you can walk back down.
For a great breakfast, lunch, or tea visit Carole Anne’s Coffee shop and Restaurant in Much Wenlock near the priory at 5 Sheinton St. Tel. 0 1952 728 444
Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy David Packman at Hampshire Cam and Boots and Paws
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Our Shropshire Articles
Acton Scott Farm
Wollerton Old Hall Garden
Hodnet Hall Garden
All Stretton Village
Weston Park House and Gardens
Other England Articles
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A fantastic bed and breakfast in a wonderful Shropshire location