History on the county of Shropshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



Map of Staffordshire
1814 Map of Shropshire by John Cary

Background Information
The county of Shropshire formerly had the administrative title of Salop from 1974 to 1980 when it was changed back to Shropshire. The origin of the name Shropshire is the Old English 'Scrobbesbyrigscir' which translates as 'the shire with Shrewsbury at its head.' However, the Normans found both Shrewsbury and Shropshire, 'Scrobbesbyrig' and 'Scrobbesyrigscir' difficult to pronounce so they softened them to 'Salopesberia' and 'Salopescira' and Salop is the abbreviation of these.

Shropshire is bordered by Cheshire in the north, Staffordshire in the east, Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the south, and Wales in the west. The south-western part of the county is quite mountainous and rugged with The Stiperstones being the highest point. The eastern part of the county is shaped by the winding River Severn which has cut lush valleys. North of the Severn are the Meres for which the county is famous. The Wrekin rises from the Salop plain to around 1200ft and in the south there are the Clee Hills. At 1772ft, Brown Clee is the highest point in the county. Other rivers in the county are the Perry, Roden, Tern, Clun, Onny, Corve and Rea.

Before the Roman conquest, the county was occupied by three principal tribes - the Cornavii, the Ornovices, and the Silures. It was the leader of the latter, Caractacus, who was defeated by the Romans under Scapula in the 1st century. In the 8th century, Offa built the dyke which marked the western boundary of his Kingdom. Nobles built many castles in the county which was often raided by the Welsh. These were finally crushed in the reign of Edward I who further fortified the Welsh Marches with large castles. In 1403 a large battle was fought between King Henry IV and Harry Hotspur, the son of the Earl of Northumberland, which ended in victory for the King. In the 15th century the Court of the Marshes was established to curb the power of the Lord Marchers and to secure justice for the Welsh. Shropshire was mainly Royalist during the English Civil War. Coalbrookdale was a key location during the Industrial Revolution - it was here that Abraham Darby claimed to be the first to smelt iron with coke.

Shropshire has more notable landmarks than most counties, including The Wrekin - a hill topped with an ancient fort, The Stiperstones, The Devil's Chair, The Meres - Shropshire's Lake District, Clee Hills including Brown Clee, Wenlock Edge, Severn Gorge, and Offa's Dyke.

The Iron Bridge at Ironbridge - was the first to be constructed in England between 1777 and 1779. Bridgnorth Castle - a Norman construction, the keep of which leans at 17 from the perpendicular. Lord Hill's Column - the highest Doric column in the country. Buildwas Abbey - dating from the 12th century, the extensive ruins of which still remain. Attingham Hall - a classical style mansion built in 1785 for the 1st Lord Berwick. Bentnall Hall - an Elizabethan stone house built near the Severn Gorge. Shrewsbury Castle - first built in 1080 and rebuilt in the 13th century and which now houses the Shropshire regimental museum. Shrewsbury Abbey - the nave and west tower still survive. Lilleshall Abbey - the ruins of a house founded in 1148 for Arroasian canons. Ludlow Castle - built in 1090 by the Norman knight Roger de Lacy. Stokesay Castle - a fortified and moated manor house dating from the 12th century.

Famous People born in Shropshire
William Langland, author of The Pies. Plougham was born in Cleobury Mortimer. Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in 1809 and lived there until the age of 16. Wilfred Owen was born in Oswestry in 1893 and attended Shrewsbury Technical College.

Famous People who lived in Shropshire
Sir Philip Sidney lived at Ludlow Castle as a boy and was educated at Shrewsbury. Samuel Butler also lived at Ludlow Castle from 1660 and part of his 'Hudibras' was written there.

There was once a wicked giant living in Wales who had a grudge against the Mayor of Shrewsbury and all the townsfolk so he decided to dam the River Severn so that it would flood the town. He set off one day with a huge spadeful of earth with which he planned to dam the river but was tired by the time he got to Wellington. It was there that he met a cobbler who was carrying a sack full of old boots and shoes. He asked the cobbler how far it was to Shrewsbury who asked him why he was heading there. The cobbler was horrified when the giant told him of his plans to flood the town - mainly because he would lose so much business in one fell swoop. So he told the giant it was further than he could walk and that he'd worn out all those boots and shoes just walking back from there it was so far away. The giant decided he was too tired to walk that far so he decided to return home. He dumped the spadeful of earth where he stood and this became known as The Wrekin and the earth that he scraped off his boots next to it is the little Ercall.

Shropshire Pie is made from rabbit with artichoke hearts and 'dumplings' made with rabbit livers, bacon and oysters. Must sound horrendous to veggies. In the tiny village of Aston-on-Clun a huge oak tree is decorated each year with flags of all nations. This custom dates back to 29th May 1786 when the tree was decorated to celebrate the marriage of local landowner John Marston with Mary Carter.

The Shropshire Agricultural Show is held at Shrewsbury every May. The Powys Eisteddfod is held at Oswestry in July.
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Bridgnorth - High-Street [c.1938]

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