SHREWSBURY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1750.
"SHREWSBURY, (Salop) 124 cm. 157 mm. from London, is most delightfully situated on an eminance, with two bridges over the Severn at the foot it, which encompasses it in the form of a horse-shoe, It is walled all round, and where the r. does not fence it, it has a castle. It was a well-built and well-frequented place, so long ago as the Norman conquest, when 12 of the townsmen were bound to keep guard, when the Ks. of England came hither, and as many to attend them, in hunting. Roger de Montgomery to whom it was granted by Will. the Conq. with, the title of E., erected the castle, and founded an abbey here, whose abbot was mitred, and sat in Pt. It was called St. Giles, or the Holy-Cross; and after this several other mons. and Chs. were erected here, besides two collegiate Chs. viz. St. Chadd's and St. Mary's. The governor and sheriff of this T. and Co. held out the castle for the empress Maud, till K. Stephen took it by storm. In the R. of Hen. III. part of this T. was burnt by the Welsh. K. Rich. II. herd a Pt. here, wherein he sate with the crown on his head. The corpse of Henry Piercy, the younger, sirnamed Hotspur, who had rebelled against Henry IV. was routed and killed at a place in the neighbourhood, from hence called Battlefield, was taken out of his grave by order of that K. and put bet. 2 mill-stones in Shrewsbury; after which it was here beheaded and quartered; and his uncle, the E. of Worcester, being taken prisoner, was also beheaded in this T. Richard D. of York and Geo. Plantagenet, sons of Edw. IV. were born here. Though it is acknowledged to be a healthy as well as pleasant place, yet the sweating-sickness, which was so fatal throughout the Km. anno 1551, is said to have first broke out here. K. Ch. I. formed that army here, which was stopped by the Pt.-forces at Edgehill, on its march to London. After the Montgomeries, this T. gave title of E. to the Talbots; of whom Cha. Talbot, that mortgaged his estate for 40,000 l. and went to Holland to join the Pr. of Orange, with whom he returned to England, was by K. William created Marq. and D. of Shrewsbury, which titles ceased by his death without issue-male; but the earldom reverted to a descendant of his uncle, and is now enjoyed by that branch of the family. Mr. Camden says, that in his time this was a fine, populous, trading T. much enriched by the industry of the inh. their cloth mf. and their commerce with the Welsh, who brought their commodities to this place, as to the common mart of both nations. Near the Black-Raven inn, which is of note by being mentioned in the play of the Recruiting Officer, there is one of the largest scs. in England. It was first founded and endowed by K. Edw. VI. by the name of the free grammar-sc. Q.Eliz. rebuilt it from the ground, and endowed it more largely. It is a fine stately fabrick, with a very good library, a chapel, and spacious buildings, not inferior to many colleges at Oxford and Cambridge; in which last U. several scholarships are founded in its favour. Besides hoss. and St. George's and St. Chadd's, and other almshs. here are also several ch. scs. where 140 boys and 40 girls are taught, and part cloathed. Though the resentment of the Pt. fell very heavy on this T. for its adherence to Cha. I. as just now mentioned, it has fully recovered itself, and is now one of the most flourishing Ts. in England. Here are, besides meeting-houses, 6 Chs. including St. Giles's p. united to that of Holy-Cross, or Abbey-Forgate; the jurisdiction whereof was granted to the corp. on the Diss. of abbeys, it being no part of the ancient Bor. of Shrewsbury, or the suburbs thereof. The Mt.-days for corn, cattle, and provisions, are W. and S. and every Th. is the Mt. for Welsh cottons, freezes, and flannels; of which here are sold, as much as comes to 1000 l. a week, one with another. The Fairs are W. after Easter-week, W. after Holy-Th. June 24, Aug.14, Sept. 21, and Dec. 1. K. Cha. I. incorporated the bailiffs and burgesses of this T. by the name of mayor, ald. and burgesses; and the Gt. therefore consists of a mayor, recorder, steward, T.-clerk, 24 ald. and 48 C.C. who have their sword-bearer, 3 serjeants at mace, and other inferior officers. The corp. has a power of trying causes within itself, even such as are capital, except for high-treason. The burgesses qualified to chuse its members of Pt. are about 450. Here are 12 trading companies, who repair on the M. fortnight after Whitsuntide to a place, called Kingland, on the S. side of the T. but on the opposite bank of the Severn, where they entertain the mayor and corp. at arbours, or bowers erected for the purpose, and distinguished by some mottos, or devices, alluding to their arts and crafts. The streets of this T. are large, and the houses well-built; particularly the E. of Bradford's, which with others have hanging-gardens down to the r. It is said, Cha. II. would have erected this T. into a city, and that the townsmen refusing this honour, were afterwards called The Proud Salopians. This T. has been many years famed for its delicate cakes, and its excellent brawn. There is such plenty of provisions of all sorts here, especially salmon and other good fish, both from the Severn and the Dee, and the place itself is so pleasant, that it is full of gentry, who have assemblies and balls here, once a week all the year round, it being a T. reckoned not inferior to St. Edmundsbury, or Durham, for mirth and gallantry; but is much bigger than both together; and it is observed, that more gentlemens coaches are kept here, than in any T. in the N. W. part of the Km. except Chester; for the cheapness of provisions draws many genteel families to the place, who love to live within com. One great ornament of this T. is that, called the Quarry, from stones having been dug there formerly; but since converted into one of the finest walks in England. It takes in at least 20 acres, on the S. and S. W. sides of the T. bet. its walls and the Severn is shaded with a double row of lime-trees, and has a fine double alcove in the centre, with seats on one side facing the T. and the other the r. There is a very noble gate upon the Welsh-bridge, over the arch of which is the statue of Llewellin, the idol of the Welsh, and their last Pr. of Wales, this being the T. where the ancient princes of Powis-Land, or North-Wales, used to reside at. The castle is ruinous; but the walls built soon after the conquest on that side of the T. which is not enclosed with the Severn, are yet standing with their gates, though houses are built on some part of the walls. Here is an infirmary for 60 patients, which was opened in April, 1747. There is a good T.-house here, and many ale-houses round it, which have the name of coffee-houses. They all speak English in the T. tho' it is inhabited both by English and Welsh; but on the Th's Mt.-day the chief language is Welsh, The ancient road, call'd Watling-Street, comes hither from London, and goes on to the utmost coast of Wales. It is railed very high above the soil, and so strait, that upon an eminence it may be seen 10 or 15 m. before and behind, over many hill-tops answering one anpther like a vista of trees."
[Transcribed information from England's Gazetteer - Stephen Whatley - 1750](unless otherwise stated)
[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]