SHROPSHIRE in 1831
"SHROPSHIRE, a county (inland), bounded on the north by Cheshire, and a detached portion of the Welch county of Flint; on the east by Staffordshire; on the south-east by Worcestershire; on the south by Herefordshire; and on the south-west, west, and northwest, respectively, by the counties of Radnor, Montgomery, and Denbigh, in Wales. It extends from 52° 20' to 53° 4' (N. Lat.), and from 2° 1?' to 3° 14' (W. Lon.), and comprises an area of upwards of one thousand three hundred and forty-one square miles, or about eight hundred and fifty-eight thousand two hundred and forty statute acres. The population, in 1821, was 206,153.
The name has been corrupted from the Saxon Scrob-scire, a contraction of Scrobbes-byrig-scyre, meaning the shire of Scrobbes-brjrig, the Saxon name for Shrewsbury. The aboriginal inhabitants of this district were of the tribes called the Cornavii and the Ordovices, the former occupying the country on the north-eastern side of the Severn; the latter, the opposite shores of that river, and the south-western tracts. Little is known of the Cornavii, but the Ordovices joined with the Silures, under Caractacus, in defending their territory against the Roman invaders; and it is thought by some that the battle in which ths Britons under that leader were finally defeated, by Ostorius Scapula, was fought within the limits of this county. Gough supposes it to have been at the hill called Caer Caradoc, or the Gaer, near the junction of the small rivers dun and Temd, on the point of which are the remains of a very large and strongly fortified camp. Under the Roman dominion, Shropshire was included in the division called Flavia Caesariensis.
After that people had abandoned Britain, this county was the theatre of numerous sanguinary contests between the Britons and the Saxons, by the former of whom it was held as part of the kingdom of Powysland, of which Shrewsbury, called by them Pengwerne, was the capital. In the year 642, at Oswestry, then called Maserfeld, Oswald, King of Northumbria, was defeated and slain, by Penda, the Pagan king of Mercia. Though the British princes long disputed the possession of this territory, they were ultimately obliged to retreat; and in 777, their seat of royalty was transferred to Mathrafael, among the mountains of Powys, and Shropshire became part of the kingdom of Mercia. They still, however, made frequent inroads; and the warlike Saxon monarch, Offa, partly to avert the evils attendant upon these hostilities, caused a deep dyke and rampart to be made, which extended one hundred miles along the mountainous border of Wales, from the Clwyddian hills to the mouth of the Wye, crossing the westernmost parts of Shropshire; but the Welch coiitinued their incursions far within this boundary, and in their hasty retreats often carried off immense booty. In the ninth century, when the Danes invaded the island, this part of Mercia, although it suffered less than some others, experienced much calamity, and its chief city, Uriconium, was destroyed. Shrewsbury then sprang up, and nourished in consequence; and Alfred, having subdued these ravagers, ranked it among his principal cities, and gave its name to the shire of which it was the capital. In 1016, Shrewsbury was taken by Edmund Ironside, who severely punished the inhabitants for having taken part with Canute, in opposition to his father Ethelred. The Welch continued their incursions both before and after this event with great fierceness, particularly in the time of Edward the Confessor, under their reigning prince Griffydd. Harold, afterwards king of England, undertook an expedition against this prince, both by land and sea, and harassed the Welch so much, that they sent him the head of their chief in token of subjection; he afterwards endeavoured to secure the advantages thus gained by a decree, forbidding any Welchman to appear on the eastern side of Offa's Dyke, on pain of losing his right hand.
At the period of the Norman Conquest, nearly the whole of Shropshire, together with extensive possessions in other parts of England, was bestowed on Roger de Montgomery, a relation of William's, and one of his chief captains, in reward for his services. But the hostilities of the Welch disturbed this warrior in the enjoyment of his good fortune and, in 1067 Owen Gwynnedd, their prince, in alliance with Edric Sylvaticus, or Edric the Forester, the Saxon Earl of Shrewsbury, laid siege to that town, with a force so formidable as to require the presence of the Conqueror, who repulsed the assailants with great slaughter, and bestowed the title of Earl of Shrewsbury upon Roger de Montgomery. This county, in like manner, was frequently the scene of contest, or of preparation for military enterprise, so long as the ancient British inhabitants of Wales maintained their independence. William the Conqueror, and his more immediate successors, for the purpose of subduing the resolute Britons, issued grants to certain of his nobles of all the lands they should be able to wrest from them; and hence originated the seigniories and jurisdictions of the lords marchers. The precise extent of the territory designated as the Marches it is difficult to determine, the word meaning, in a general sense, the borders between the Welch and the English; but the western border of Shropshire certainly formed a principal portion. The tenure by which these lords marchers held under the king was, in case of war, to serve with a certain number of vassals, to furnish their castles with strong garrisons, and with sufficient military implements and stores for defence, to keep the king's enemies in subjection; to enable them to perform this, they were allowed to exercise, in their respective territories, absolute power. For their better security they fortified old castles and built new ones, garrisoning them with their own retainers; and thus it was that the greater part of the numerous castles on the Welch border were erected. They had particular laws in their baronies, termed Angletheria and Waltheria, where all suits between them and their tenants were commenced and determined; but if a question arose concerning the barony and its title, it was referred to the king's courts. There was also, so early as the reign of John, a lord warden of the marches, whose jurisdiction resembled that of a lord-lieutenant. In the year 1102, Bridgenorth and Shrewsbury, both which had been garrisoned for Robert, Duke of Normandy, by Robert de Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury, were taken by Henry I., and that earl having incurred forfeiture of his estates, the county was bestowed by the king upon his queen Adeliza. In 1138, Ludlow, which had heen seized by Henry I. from Robert de Belesme, being held by Gervaise Paganel, its governor, for the empress Matilda, was besieged by King Stephen; and, in 1139, Shrewsbury, which had been seized by William Fitz-Alan, Lord of Oswestry, for the empress, was taken by the same monarch, after a vigorous defence. In 1156, Bridgenorth, then held by Hugh de Mortimer against the authority of its royal owner, Henry II., was besieged and reduced by that monarch, who, in 1164, assembled an army in Shropshire, and attempted the subjugation of the Welch; near the Ceiriog, in the north-western part of the county, a strong body of his troops, which had been sent from Oswestry, where the king was then lying, to attempt the passage of that river, was attacked by the Welch, in a wood of birches afrthe farther end of Selattyn Hill, opposite to Chirk castle, and very few of the men who composed it escaped. In 1212, Oswestry was taken and burned by King John, who afterwards entered Wales, where he made great devastation. In the year 1215, Shrewsbury surrendered without resistance to Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, whose forces had previously gained many advantages on the marches; and, in 1233, Oswestry was taken and burned by the same chieftain, in alliance with the Earl of Pembroke, who afterwards again obtained possession of Shrewsbury. At that town, in 1241, Henry III. assembled his army to attack David ap Llewellyn, Prince of Wales; but on submission made by him, Henry, after remaining there fifteen days, returned to London. In 1253, the gentry of the county incurred the king's displeasure, by refusing to obey the new constitutions then enjoined for the keeping of arms and musters, and being answerable for robberies on the highway; the penalties exacted in punishment of which disobedience were so severe, that for some years after the people were destitute of necessaries, and without means of tilling the ground. In the war between that monarch and the insurgent barons, the latter took Shrewsbury, in 1260, but it was shortly afterwards retaken by the forces of Henry. In 1263, Bridgenorih was captured by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. Henry III., in 1267, again came to Shrewsbury with an army, designing to attack the Welch, but the expedition was abandoned on the submission of their prince, Llewellyn. The frequent hostilities of the Welch still rendered it necessary that vigorous measures should be taken against them; and in 1277, in the reign of Edward I., that monarch being personally engaged in the final reduction of Wales, the court of Exchequer, and the court of King's Bench, were removed to Shrewsbury for a few months. In 1283, during the same reign, a parliament was assembled at Shrewsbury, the king and his court being lodged at Acton-Burnell.
During the interval which had elapsed between the reign of the Conqueror and that of Edward I., as the English arms had continued to prevail, so the dominion of the marches had penetrated at length into the very heart of Wales; but on the death of Llewellyn, in the eleventh year of the latter monarch's reign, when the Welch submitted to his power, the necessity for such grants as those before mentioned existed no longer, and after this period no more lords marchers were created; the power of these once absolute baronial chieftains was also diminished by the erection of the court of the marches, which was held at Ludlow. In the year 1397, Richard II., in the twentieth year of his reign, held a parliament at Shrewsbury, called by Speed, from the numbers that attended it, "the Great Parliament;" on its dissolution the king went to Oswestry, where the Duke of Hereford, afterwards Henry IV., and the Duke of Norfolk, appeared before him, and it was there determined that they should decide the quarrel which had arisen between them by single combat, at Coventry. In 1403, on July 22nd, the partisans of the Earl of Northumberland, who were to have been joined by an army under Owen Glyndwr, were defeated near Shrewsbury by Henry IV.; their commander, Henry Percy, surnamed Hotspur, was slain, and the Earl of Worcester taken prisoner, as also was the Scotch Earl Douglas, in his flight after the action, on Haughmond hill: the total number of slain on both sides was about two thousand three hundred knights and gentlemen, and six thousand common soldiers. In gratitude for this victory, Henry built and endowed a collegiate church upon the spot where most of the slain were buried, which has ever since been called Battle-field. Glyndwr's forces, amounting to twelve thousand men, which had remained inactive at Oswestry, after the defeat of their allies, retired into Wales. During the war between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, in the year 1455, Richard, Duke of York, published at Ludlow a declaration of allegiance to the reigning monarch, Henry VI., saying also that the army which he had raised was only for the redress of grievances and the public weal: in 1459, however, Henry having advanced against this nobleman with superior forces, was joined at Ludford, a village near Ludlow,-on October 13th, by Sir Andrew Trollope, with a large body of troops, which (had deserted from the Duke of York at Ludlow; and on this, the duke, with his sons, the Earls of March and Rutland, and his friends, the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, fled from the country: the king's forces then entered Ludlow, which they sacked. After the death of the Duke of York at the battle of Wakefield, his son Edward, afterwards Edward IV., went to Shrewsbury, in 1460, and obtained from the surrounding country a powerful levy, with which he obtained the victory at the great battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire. The Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., in his march from Milford Haven towards Leicestershire, in which county he soon after fought the great battle of Bosworth Field, passed with his increasing army through Shropshire; he was admitted into Shrewsbury without resistance, and thence marched by Newport, where he was joined by Sir Gilbert Talbot, with two thousand of the tenantry and retainers of the Earl of Shrewsbury, then a minor, to whom Sir Gilbert was uncle and guardian. In the great civil war of the seventeenth century, this county was the scene of much violence and bloodshed. On September 20th, 1642, at Wellington, Charles I., at the head of his army, with which he had marched from Nottingham, issued a proclamation, promising to preserve the Protestant religion, the laws and liberty of his subjects, and the privileges of parliament; and thence marched to Shrewsbury, where he was joined by his two sons, Prince Charles, and James Duke of York, by Prince Rupert, and a great number of noblemen and gentlemen: the king re- mained here until the 12th of October, when he marched to Bridgenorth, and thence advanced towards Edge-hill in Warwickshire, where occurred the first great conflict of that memorable struggle. In 1644, Longford house, on April 3rd, and Tong castle, on April 6th, were captured from the parliamentarians by Prince Rupert; but on the other hand, in June of the same year, Oswestry was taken from the royalists by the Earl of Denbigh. In July, the latter place was besieged by a party of royalist forces under Col. Marrowe, but was relieved by Sir Thomas Middleton, who took about two hundred prisoners. In February, 1645, Apsley house was taken by the parliamentarians under Sir John Price; and on the 9th of the same month, Shrewsbury was taken by suprise by Col. Mytton, the parliamentarian governor of Wem; its governor, Sir Michael Earnley, was slain, sixty gentlemen and two hundred soldiers made prisoners, and fifteen pieces of ordnance fell into the hands of the victors. By the loss of this important station the royal communication with North Wales was cut off, and a check given to the plan which had been formed by the united counties of Salop, Worcester, Chester, and Flint, of augmenting the lung's forces at Stokesay, near Ludlow. In the summer of this year, a royalist force, of nearly two thousand horse and foot, drawn from the garrisons at Ludlow, Hereford, Worcester, and Monmouth, was defeated by an inferior number of parliamentarians; and to a party of the latter, under Sir William Brereton, the castle of Ludlow was delivered up on the 9th of June in the year following. In 1646, Bridgenorth castle also, after an obstinate resistance of a month, surrendered to the parliamentarians. In 1651, when Charles II. was fleeing, after the disastrous issue of the battle of Worcester, he arrived, at three o'clock in the morning of September 4th, at White Ladies' priory, on the eastern side of this county; from that place, after having concealed himself in the neighbourhood during the two following days, he was conducted to Boscobel house, and the day after his arrival there was concealed, in company with Col. Careless, in the Royal Oak, in an adjoining wood; having passed two nights at this place, he removed to another and more secure hiding-place in Staffordshire. The last hostile movement made in Shropshire was an ineffectual attempt, in 1654, bySir Thomas Harris and others, to surprise the castle of Shrewsbury for the king. The jurisdiction of the president and council of the marches, which had been reestablished at Ludlow by Edward IV., in honour of the Earl of March, from whom he was descended, and whose title he had borne, was abolished by act of parliament, in the first year of the reign of William and Mary, at the humble suit of the gentlemen and other inhabitants of the principality of Wales.
Shropshire includes parts of the several dioceses of Hereford, Lichfield and Coventry, and St. Asaph: a detached portion, containing the parishes of Claverley, Hales-Owen, and Worfield, is in that of Worcester: the whole is contained in the province of Canterbury. That part of the diocese of Hereford which is in Shropshire, forming about one-half of the county, is almost wholly included in the archdeaconry of Salop, together with parts of Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire; only one parish in this county is in the archdeaconry of Hereford. The archdeaconry of Salop, which comprises most of that part of the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry contained in Shropshire, which is very considerable, is for the most part within the limits of this county -, five parishes only, in the same diocese, being in the archdeaconry of Stafford. The archdeaconry of St. Asaph is co-extensive with the diocese. Shropshire contains the deaneries of Burford, Clun, Ludlow, Marchia, Newport, Pontesbury, Salop, Stottesden, and Wenlock. The boundaries of the ecclesiastical divisions are extremely irregular: some parishes are contained partly in this and partly in other counties. The number is two hundred and fourteen, of which one hundred and five are rectories, fifty-eight vicarages, and the remainder perpetual curacies. For purposes of civil government the county is divided into fifteen hundreds, or districts answering thereto, viz. the hundreds of Bradford (North), comprising the Drayton and Whit church divisions; Bradford (South), comprising the Newport and Wellington divisions; and Brimstree, comprising the Hales- Owen and Shiffnall divisions; and the hundreds of Chirbury, Condover, Ford, Munslow, Oswestry, Overs, Pimhill, Purslow (with which that of Clun has been incorporated), and Stottesden; the liberty of Shrewsbury; and the franchise of Wenlock. It contains the borough and market-towns of Shrewsbury, Bishop's Castle, Bridgenorth, Clun, Ludlow, and Wenlock; and the market-towns of Broseley, Cleobury-Mortimer, Drayton in Hales, Ellesmere, Hales-Owen, Newport, Oswestry, Shifnall, Church-Strett on, Wellington, Wem, and Whitchurch. Two knights are returned to parlia- ment for the shire, and two representatives for each of the boroughs. The county members are elected at Shrewsbury. Shropshire is included in the Oxford circuit: the assizes and general quarter sessions are held at Shrewsbury, where is the county gaol. It is the seat of judicature for all suits of the inhabitants of North Wales, commenced by Quo Minus in the Exchequer at Westminster, which are tried at the assizes here, as they are for those of South Wales at Hereford. There are one hundred and nine acting magistrates. The rates raised in the county for the year ending March 25th, 1827, amounted to £96,921. 3., the expenditure to £96,461. 10., of which £80,753. 18. was applied to the relief of the poor.
The form of the county is an irregular parallelogram. It possesses almost every variety of fine scenery; bold and lofty mountains; woody and secluded vallies; fertile and widely-cultivated plains; a majestic river which divides it into two nearly equal portions; and sequestered lakes. Though no part of the surface is absolutely flat, yet the north-eastern districts are comparatively so, as contrasted with the hills on the southern and western borders, approaching the Welch mountains, and form an important part of the immense plain, or vale, which also includes the whole of the county of Cheshire, and the southern part of Lancashire, and is bounded on the east by the hills of Staffordshire, Derbyshire, and the western borders of Yorkshire; and on the west by the mountains of North Wales, and by the sea. The extent of the plain of Salop is about thirty miles long from north to south, or from Whitchurch to Church-Stretton; and twenty-eight miles broad, from Oswestry to Colebrook-dale; it is divided into two unequal portions by the Severn, and is bounded, with other parts of Shropshire, on the west by a line of limestone hills, extending from Ruabon to Llanymynech, and the Breydden hills; on the east by the hills on the Staffordshire border, the Wrekin, the hills of Acton- Burnell, Frodgesley, the Lawley, and Caer-Caradoc; and on the south by the Longmynd, or Longmont, and the Stiperstones. The famed Wrekin mountain, celebrated for the magnificent and extensive prospects which it commands, rises singly out of the plain, to the height of nearly one thousand two hundred feet above the level of the Severn, near which it is situated: north of it are excrescences of rock and partial swells. To the south-west the hills are more frequent; and on the western and southwestern borders of the county is a striking succession of mountainous elevations, divided by beautiful vallies; some of the highest ground in the county is considered to be the summits of the hills in the vicinity of Oswestry. Lying to the east of the Wrekin, and on the eastern borders of the county, the coal district of Colebrookdale, which extends from north-east to south-west, about eight miles in length, and two in breadth, is considerably above the level of the plain of Shropshire, more especially its southern parts; so that at Horsehay it is five hundred feet above the level of the Severn, which there approaches it: the scenery of this vale is particularly beautiful. South-west of the Severn, the limestone ridge of hills, which commences at Lincoln hill in Colebrook- dale, proceeds in a south-westerly direction towards Church-Stretton, near which place it turns southward from the hills, around Hope-Bowdler, and descends nearly in a direct line to Ludlow, on the southern border of the county. Westward is a vale about two miles broad, and nearly fifteen in length, from Colebrookdale to the Stretton valley. Its western side is bounded by the line of low hills ranging, without any intermediate valley, along the base of a much more elevated ridge, of which the Wrekin forms the northern extremity; this chain is continued on the south-western side of the Severn, in a line with the Wrekin, and constitutes the Acton-Burnell hills, the Frodgesley hills, the Lawley, Caer Caradoc, and the Hope-Bowdler hills; all which have craggy summits, ascend abruptly from the plain, at an angle of about sixty degrees, and command remarkably fine prospects. The vale in which Church- Stretton is situated separates from these the singular mass of hills called the Longmynd, which ascends gradually from the plain to a height much superior to that of the Wrekin, and then stretches, with, a level and unvaried summit, for several miles towards Bishop.'s Castle. The peculiar characteristic of these hills is their squareness, both in plan and outline, and from the vale just mentioned three or four lines of them are seen rising above each other, the form of each being nearly a cube, or, from the wasting of the summit and accumulations at the base,-a truncated pyramid; almost every hill is separated from the others by a deep narrow valley or glen, occasionally overhung with wood, and watered by a stream, which here and there forms small cascades: some of these streams flow northward into the plain of Shrewsbury and others take a southerly course, watering the country between Bishop's .Castle and Ludlow. Following the mountainous line that forms the boundary of the plain of Salop, a high and rocky district oc- curs between the high road from Shrewsbury to Bishop's Castle and the vale of Montgomery. The most elevated peak of this assemblage of lofty hills is called the Stiperstones, its summit being extremely craggy, and overspread with enormous loose blocks of quartz, which, at a distance, look like the ruins of some great fortress. This hill is somewhat higher than the Wrekin, and forms the abrupt termination of a line of mountains that hence extends south-westward into Radnorshire. From the Stiperstones a range of low hills stretches, in a north-easterly direction, as far as Shrewsbury, under the names of Lyth hill, Baystone hill, and the Sharpstones. In the southern parts of the county, the Clee hills, like the Wrekin, have their bases projecting towards the low lands, which accompany the course of the Severn; the Brown Clee hill, and the Titterston Clee hill, are amongst the highest in Shropshire, and have fiat tops, but very irregular sides, and, like many others similarly situated, have vestiges of ancient fortifications upon their summits. Of the Berwyn mountains only a small portion, the slate mountain of Selattyn, is within the boundary of Salop. The views obtained from many of the heights are remarkably grand and beautiful. The lakes, though neither numerous nor of great extent, form a variety in the landscape rarely met with in the midland counties that adjoining Ellesmere covers one hundred and sixteen acres, and there are several others in the neighbourhood, but of smaller extent. Near Whitchurch are two other meres besides which, on the northern side of the Severn, are those of Fennymere, Llynclyspool, and Ancot. On the western side of the county is Marton pool, occupying about forty acres 5 and at Shrawardine is a fine piece of water of nearly the same size: there is another Marton pool, on the northern side of the Severn, of nearly the same size as the former. South of the Severn, at the distance of a few miles from Shrewsbury, is Beaumere, a small but beautiful sheet of water, and almost adjoining it is Shomere.
These irregularities of surface and of soil produce great diversity in the climate. The corn harvest on the eastern side of the county, where the land is warm and flat, frequently commences a fortnight sooner than in the more central districts, where, although the vales are extensive, the soils are heavier, and frequently rest upon clay; hay and grain are both, however, gathered earlier in the central than in the western parts of the county, where the ground is not in general so stiff, but where the vales are narrow, and the high lands frequent and extensive. The air is generally very salubrious, and the inhabitants are remarkable for their longevity. The variations of soil are as great as those of surface and the different kinds are so intermingled as to render it difficult to define the limits of each. There is nearly an equal quantity of wheat and turnip land, though the proportions of the former somewhat preponderate. That part of the county which lies northeastward of the Severn consists chiefly of a turnip soil under tillage, intermingled with large portions of meadow and pasture. The flat lands on the banks of that river, which are frequently overflowed, form rich mea- dows. On its south-western side, from Alderbury, in a district about eight miles wide, down to Cressage, the soils are chiefly of a good quality, but very variable comprising pasture, wheat, and turnip land, each in small quantities. From Cressage, in a tract about six miles in width, to Bridgenorth, and thence to Cleobury and Ludlow, is chiefly a mixed soil upon clay, in some places very thin. The remaining south-western portion of the county has soils of almost every species, except chalk and flint: they are generally thin, some resting upon clay, others upon hard rock of different kinds, and compose extensive tracts of hilly wastes. la the hundred of Oswestry, on the northern side of the Severn, and occupying the north-western extremity of the county, is a considerable quantity of deep loam and gravelly soil, with some marl, in the parish of that name; while in that of West Felton, in the vicinity of the same town, is a large tract of black peaty bog. Towards the south-east the soil becomes sandy; and Pimhill hundred, which adjoins it on the east, contains a mixture of boggy land and of sand lying over a red sandstone, with a still greater proportion of- sound wheat land. North Bradford, forming the north-eastern part of the county, has some low land of a peaty nature, good meadow land, a considerable quantity of sand lying upon a red sand-stone, and some gravelly soils. South of this, and on the eastern border, the hundreds of South Bradford and Brimstree consist for the most part of sandy loam. The franchise of Wenlock, immediately to the west of the latter, is chiefly occupied by pale-coloured clays, locally called dye-earth, which at a considerable depth are blue, but near the surface become a pale yellow; there is also some light sand, and a considerable quantity of soil formed chiefly of the decomposed matter upon which it rests. In the hundreds of Stottesden, Overs, and Munslow, which adjoin the southeastern and southern borders of the county, there is also much clay, and a varying stony soil upon a substratum of limestone; they have also a shallow rocky loam lying upon freestone, and sometimes slate marl; sands covering red sand-stone, particularly in the vicinity of Bridgenorth, and some clays of a reddish colour, especially near Ludlow. In Condover hundred, nearly in the centre of the county, and on the southern side of the Severn, is a good deal of gravelly loam, sand, and clay, frequently blending in very small beds. In- the liberties of Shrewsbury, around that town, and in the hundred of Ford, which lies on the south side of the Severn, between it and the western border of the county, there is also much pebbly loam; north of Shrewsbury is some reddish clay upon red rock, and on the northern border of Ford hundred are some lighter-coloured clays upon limestone; the southern part of this division consists for the most part of a deep clayey soil, and, proceeding still southward and westward, becomes gravelly, rocky, and uneven. The small hundred of Chirbury, southward of this, is still more rugged, but has plains of a deep light-coloured' loam, or clay. In the hundred of Purslow, forming the south-western extremity of the county, although the surface is very uneven, yet several of the hills are smooth, and there are some pale-coloured clays, and a considerable quantity of lighter soils.
The red soils are in general very productive. On the arable lands the courses of husbandry vary; but there is not much difference between the culture of the sandy and gravelly soils of this county, and that practised on similar soils in Norfolk, or any other light soils where turnips are grown. The crops most common are, wheat, barley, oats, peas, and turnips. The average produce of wheat per acre is from fifteen to twenty bushels, that of barley;from eighteen to thirty-five, and that of peas from ten to twenty-four. Rye was formerly much cultivated on the arenaceous soils, but to a great extent it has been superseded by wheat. A small quantity of vetches is grown, as green food for horses; and a little buck-wheat is sown on the light soils; scarcely any beans are cultivated; in the eastern part of the county turnips are almost universally grown; as also to a great extent on the rocky lands of the western side of it. The principal artificial grasses are the broad-leafed clover, Dutch clover (both red and white), trefoil, and ray-grass. Hops are cultivated in a small district on the Herefordshire side of the county; hemp and flax only in small quantities; potatoes are extensively grown. Grass land for hay is seldom manured: on the banks of the Severn, and in other flat tracts, intersected by smaller streams that occasionally overflow their banks, are natural meadows regularly mown; but the crops are often much damaged by floods; the hay harvest is generally in July. In the vales of the south-western parts of the county, the grass lands are very good; the pasture lands are not, however, on the whole, of the richest kind. The meadows, in different parts, are irrigated by means of levels preserved from the' natural streams, and continued along their banks. Shropshire is not famous for its dairies; in the south-eastern portion of that part of it lying to the north-east of the Severn they are small, and, as much butter is made, the cheese is of an inferior quality: on the north-western side of the same district, and bordering upon Cheshire, the dairies are much larger, and are chiefly for cheese; on the other side of the Severn, small dairies are kept, both for butter and cheese. Lime and marl are very extensively employed as manures: with the former, which is most. generally used, every part of the county is tolerably well supplied; soot and maltdust are sometimes scattered over the meadows, or pastures, in the vicinity of the towns.
The neat cattle are considered to be for the most part of the same kind as those which prevail in Warwickshire and Staffordshire; the Old Shropshire ox was remarkable for a large dewlap. Many are also reared of the improved breeds of Lancashire, Cheshire, Leicestershire, and Staffordshire; and upon the southern confines, the Herefordshire breed prevails. In the vicinity of Bishop's Castle the cattle are good and uniform in shape and colour, the latter being a dark red. The neat cattle on the' north-eastern side of the Severn are an inferior sort of the Lancashire long-horned breed, in general forthe dairy. Most farmers rear a few calves yearly for the regular supply of their dairies; a still greater number is reared on the south-western side of the Severn, where they are worked young, and then sold, when about six years old, at the great fairs in the county, to the Northamptonshire and Leicestershire graziers. The old Shropshire sheep are horned and have black or mottled faces and legs; their size is about that of the South-Down sheep, but their necks are rather longer, and the carcass not quite so compact; they are extremely hardy, and so seldom drink, that if one of them be seen to do so, it is immediately regarded as diseased. On the Longmynd is a horned breed of sheep with black faces, apparently indigenous to the tract they inhabit; they are nimble and hardy; when fat, they weigh near ten pounds per quarter, and carry a fleece of about two pounds and a half, of which half a pound is coarse wool, and is sold separately from the rest. Upon the hills nearer Wales the flocks are without horns and with white faces; have rather shorter legs and heavier and coarser fleeces than the Longrnynd sheep, and are of about the same weight. Perhaps in no county of equal size are reared or fattened so many hogs as in this; the original hog of Shropshire was a high-backed, large-eared animal, but this is now rarely to be met with unmixed with other breeds; pork and bacon are much consumed by the poorer classes of inhabitants. There are some considerable rabbit-warrens upon the Longmynd and the Brown Glee hill. Geese are reared on the commons, and sold to the farmers, who fatten them: some farmers also, particularly in the honour of Clun, rear great numbers of turkeys, which are purchased by persons who drive them to Birmingham and other large towns. Many farmers have small orchards, from which they make cider for their own consumption; and on the confines of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the orchards are larger, and the cider is made for sale.
This county has been cleared at different times of much of its timber, great supplies having been sent to Bristol, for ship-building; but it still retains more fine woods of oak than most other counties, there being sufficient for the home consumption, and a considerable surplus for exportation. The coppice-woods are extensive, and consist chiefly of oak. Large quantities of oak poles are used in the coal-pits, and as they are required to be of considerable strength, the trees of which they are formed are seldom felled under twenty-four years' growth. On the side of Shropshire, towards Bewdley in Worcestershire, is a large tract of coppices, which are cut at from eighteen to twenty-one years' growth, to be converted into charcoal for manufacturing bar iron. There is much timber in the hedge-rows, consisting principally of oak and ash, with a few elms, and still fewer beech, lime, and sycamore trees; poplars are common by the sides of brooks and the smaller rivers; birches, both as trees and fences, are frequent in the south-western district. There are many modern plantations, generally of various kinds of fir and pine, intermingled with different deciduous trees: indeed, there are few trees which do not flourish in the soil. Exclusively of the heathy mountainous tracts before described, which are chiefly sheep-walks, there are some flat open heaths in the north-eastern part of the county, and in the parishes of Worfield and North Cleobury, in the vicinity of Bridgenorth. Clun Forest, an extensive sheep-walk, contains above twelve thousand acres, and is a fine extent of smooth turf, with every variation of swelling banks and retired dingles; a part of the Longmynd has been enclosed. There are several large mosses and a great number of smaller ones; the largest district of swampy moor-land surrounds the village of Kinnersley. The whole of the county is plentifully supplied with coal; but in the south-western district, the common articles of fuel are peat and wood.
The mineral productions are various and considerable; the principal are, coal, iron, lead, and stone of different kinds. The coal district of Colebrook-dale is about six miles long from north-east to south-west, and two miles broad: it commences on the south-western side of the Severn, in the parishes of Barrow and Much-Wenlock, and runs across that river through those of Broseley, Madeley, Little Wenlock, Wellington, Dawley, Malins-Lea, Shiffnall, Lilleshall, and some others. Red sandstone is found immediately to the eastward of this tract, and the coal strata dip rapidly towards it. The whole of this "independent coal formation" is composed of the usual members, viz. quartzose sandstone, indurated clay, clay porphyry, slate clay, and coal, alternating with each other without much regularity, except that each bed of coal is always immediately covered by indurated, or slaty, clay. Trop, or greenstone, appears in some places between the coal formation and the limestone upon which it rests, and which rises to the west of it. The strata are found most complete in Madeley colliery, where a pit has been sunk to the depth of seven hundred and twenty-nine feet, through all the beds, eighty-six in number, that constitute the formation. The sand-stones, which make part of the first thirty strata, are fine-grained, and often contain thin plates, or minute fragments, of coal: and the thirty-first and thirty-third strata are coarse-grained sand-stone, entirely penetrated by petroleum. Below these, at different depths, are three thick beds of sandstone, varying in quality: vegetable impressions are found in most of them, excepting those nearest the surface. The clay porphyry occurs but once, at the depth of seventy-three feet from the surface. The indurated clay is, in some beds, compact, dull, and smooth, when it is termed clod; in others it is glossy, unctuous, and tending to a slaty texture, and is then called clunch: it encloses beds of clay iron-stone, in the form of compressed balls, or broad flat masses, and some vegetable impressions, and a few shells; the beds of iron-ore are five or six in number, and in the iron-stone nodules, vulgarly called ball-stone, impressions of various ferns are common. . The slaty clay, called by the miners basses, is of a blueish black colour, usually containing pyrites, and is always either mixed with coal, or combined with petroleum. The first bed of coal occurs at the depth of one hundred and two feet from the surface; it is not more than four inches thick, and is very sulphureous: nine other beds of a similar nature, but somewhat thicker, lie between this and the depth of nearly four hundred feet; they are used only in burning lime. The first bed capable of being worked is five feet thick, and occurs at the depth of nearly five hundred feet: below it are thirteen other beds of different quality and thickness; some possess the quality of caking: they are usually a mixture of slate-coal and, pitch-coal, but rarely of cannel coal. Of these numerous beds, some are wanting in the neighbouring collieries, and the thickness of others varies considerably. The whole formation rests either upon die-earth, which is of a greyish colour, and contains petrifactions, chiefly of the Dudley fossil kind, and is so named because the beds of coal die, or cease, beneath it; or upon limestone, except in one place, where the greenstone trop interposes between the coal and the limestone. The principal faults, or breaks, in the strata run nearly north-east and south-west: two of these have thrown the strata on both sides of the district, from one to two hundred feet lower than they are in the middle of it, but have not at all affected the surface; and it is in this middle tract, on account of the greater facility of working the mines, that by far the greatest quantity of coal and iron-ore is raised. The limestone formation consists of beds of limestone and sand-stone, forming two mountain ranges westward of this, in the direction of north-east and south-west: at the northern extremity of one range, where it comes in contact with the coal formation, the limestone contains cavities, some of which are lined with, and some full of, petroleum. The combination of coal, iron-ore, &c., together with the advantages of watercarriage which it possesses, renders Colebrook-dale the centre of some of the most extensive iron-works in the kingdom, which consume by far the greater part of the coal raised there. In the Glee hills, from twenty to thirty miles southward of Colebrook-dale, are other coal-works, where the strata consist also of both coal and iron-stone, and dip towards the centre of the hills; this coal and iron-stone is in some places covered by a thickbed of basalt, which forms irregular ridges, higher than any other parts of the hills; the strata of coal in Brown Glee hill are much thinner than in the Tillerston, where the principal stratum is six feet thick: cannel coal is also found in this hill, and the strata are, as elsewhere, disarranged by faults. There are coal fields at Billingsley, two or three miles north-eastward of these, where a stratum of spatous iron-ore has been found; and valuable coal-works lie southward of the Glee hills, some of which produce cannel coal: coal is also found in most other parts of the hundred of Stottesden. Some miles westward of the first-mentioned coal district, pits have been sunk with success; and, indeed, out of the fifteen civil divisions of this county, ten are known to produce this valuable mineral: it is chiefly the south-western districts that are deficient of it. Nearly parallel with the Welch border is a bank of coal strata, extending from the Dee to the Severn, and a portion of these is worked in the western and north-western parts of Shropshire, the coal having the caking quality of the Newcastle coal, and yielding a powerful heat; the principal works are near Chirk bridge: a stratum of coal seven feet thick has here been met with: spatous iron-ore, and common argillaceous iron-stone, are also found. The strata dip towards the east, and rest upon an irregular band of limestone, which in some places rises to a great height above the plain, but in others scarcely appears above the surface. In many parts, especially near Oswestry, this limestone changes into a kind of marble, and small quantities of both lead and copper are found through its whole extent.
There are mines of lead-ore of a good quality adjoining the Stiperstones, and in their vicinity; in the western parts of the county, the veins are in argillaceous schistus, and produce sulphuret of lead, both galena and steel-ore (which latter contains silver), carbonate of lead chrystallized, red lead-ore, and blende, or black-jack; the Bog mine has been worked to the depth of one hundred and fifty yards, and a ton of the ore raised here yields fifteen hundred-weight of pure lead; the ore of the White grit mine does not yield so much. At Snailbach, a vein, which is in some parts four yards in width, has been worked to the depth of one hundred and eighty yards; calamine is also here met with. Ancient' tools, judged to be Roman, have been found in these mines. The lead-ore is reduced at Minsterley and other places near the mines, whence it is sent by land-carriage to Shrewsbury, and there shipped, together with the raw calamine, in barges, for Bristol. There are appearances both of lead and copper in different other parts of the county. The various beds of stone are too numerous and diversified for minute description; besides those of limestone, a long range extends from Colebrook-dale, by Wenlock, to Ludlow, on the southern border of the county; the lime-works at Lilleshall are very considerable: limestone is also found in the Glee hills, and to a limited extent in the south-western districts, and in many places south of Shrewsbury, as well as in the parishes of Cardeston and Alberbury to the west of that town. At the eastern extremity of the Wrekin, and at some other limeworks, is produced a red lime, which sets very hard in water; in some parts of Shropshire limestone is found under very thick argillaceous strata. At Grinshill, seven miles north of Shrewsbury, is a noted quarry of white sand-stone, the bed of which is sixty feet thick: great use has been made of this stone in the more modern edifices of Shrewsbury and the vicinity. There are large extents of red sand-stone in the same neighbourhood, and westward and south-westward, as well as in the eastern parts of the county; and near Bridgenorth, beds of red sand-stone are found under white sand-stone, and vice versa. Further south, sand-stone prevails; and at Orton bank is a stratum similar to the Bath and Portland stone, enclosed in strata of limestone. In the western district is a siliceous grit, difficult to work; but the more common stone is argillaceous. A kind of stony slate is found in the parish of Bettws, on the south-western verge of the county, and is used for covering roofs; and good flag-stones are obtained in Corndon-hill, west of Bishop's Castle. In the Swihney mountain, near Oswestry, is a superior white sandstone; and the same is found at Bowden quarry, in the hundred of Munslow. At Soudley, in the parish of Eaton and franchise of Wenlock, is a very good flag-stone for floors. At Pitchford, about seven miles south-east of Shrewsbury, is a red sandstone, approaching the surface in many places, from which exudes a mineral pitch: from this rock is extracted an oil, called "Betton's British oil," used medicinally. Clay slate occurs as the supporting rock of the trop formation of this county, which extends from the Wrekin to Church-Stretton. Lawley hill is in part formed of a kind of granite; but a still greater part consists of toadstone: Caer Caradoc hill is composed of a shivery kind of schistus: the Wrekin chiefly comprises reddish chert-stone, with granulated quartz imbedded in it: the hills near Oswestry are of coarsegrained sand-stone; this county affords throughout a rich field of enquiry for the mineralogist. The rich stores of iron and lead ores, coal, and stone; the increasing manufactures, and the agricultural improvements of the district, have raised Shropshire to a high position in the scale of national importance; while its inland navigation has rendered it the emporium of the trade between England and Wales, and a grand centre of communication with the inland counties.
The chief manufacture is that of iron; the number of blast furnaces for this metal between Ketley and Willey, in the great eastern coal district, in a space of about seven miles, exceeds that in any other tract of equal extent in the kingdom. Some of these produce iron of the best quality: the number of persons employed in them, is about six thousand. The quantity of coal annually raised is nearly three hundred thousand tons: the number of steam-engines employed on both sides of the Severn is remarkably great. In Colebrookdale, coked coal was first employed, on an extensive scale, as a substitute for charcoal, in the manufacture of iron. Various branches of the flannel manufacture are carried on near Shrewsbury; and there are mills at different places for dyeing woollen cloth. A considerable manufacture of gloves is carried on at Ludlow, chiefly for the London market, at which place paper is also made. Near Coalport, on the Severn, coloured china of all sorts, and of exquisite taste and beauty, is made: and at the same newly-formed town is a manufacture of earthenware in imitation of that made at Etruria, commonly called Wedgewood ware. Glass is made at Donington; earthenware, pipes, bricks and tiles, and nails, at Broseley; and at Coalport, in the neighbourhood of the last-mentioned place, is a china manufacture of great excellence; at Coalport are also manufactures of-ropes and chains for the mines. There is a manufacture of carpets at Bridgenorth; paper and horse-hair seating are made at Drayton; and at nearly all the towns in the county the malting business is carried on to a very considerable extent. The staple trade of Shrewsbury is in fine flannels and Welch webs, but it has very much declined. The ultimate markets for the strong, or high country cloth, which is woven. in Denbighshire, are Holland, Germany, and America: the small cloth, which is about one-eighth of a yard narrower than the. other, and is sometimes brought for sale to Oswestry market, is generally dyed before it is exported; it is sent to South America, and to the West Indies, as clothing for the slaves.
The Severn, which, among British rivers, is next in magnitude and importance to the Thames, runs nearly through the centre of the county, in an irregular bending course of between sixty and seventy miles, and in a general direction of from north-west to south-east. Entering on the western border below Welch-Pool in Montgomeryshire, it proceeds eastward across the great plain to Shrewsbury, which it nearly encircles, its course being in that vicinity more circuitous than in any other part within the limits of this county: hence it continues in a south-easterly direction until it has passed Colebrook-dale, shortly below which it turns southward to Bridgenorth, and the rest of its course through Shropshire is thenceforward nearly in the same direction; it finally quits the county, after having formed, for the distance of a few miles, the eastern boundary of & projecting portion of Stottesdon hundred, which it separates first from Staffordshire, and afterwards from Worcestershire, which latter county it then enters near Bewdley. During the whole of its course through Shropshire, this river is navigable for barges of from twenty to eighty tons' burden, which are towed up it; and for vessels called trows, which are larger, and navigate the ports lower down the river: by far the greater part of the barges are employed in exporting downwards the produce of the mines near Colebrookdale wines, groceries, &c., are brought up the Severn, for the consumption of this county, that of Montgomery, and others; and besides the exports of coal and iron by means of it, are those of lime, lead, flannel, grain, and cheese, with some others of minor importance. The inconveniences and interruptions attendant on the navigation of this river are very great, and are chiefly occasioned by the frequent fords and shoals that occur in its channel, which has a rapid fall; by a deficiency of water in times of drought; and by the superabundance of it in rainy seasons, when it rushes down with irresistible force. The fish found in it, within the limits of Shropshire, are salmon, flounders, a few pike, trout, graylings, perch, eels, shad, bleak, gudgeons, chub, roach, and dace (in great abundance), carp, a few lampreys, and ruff. The fishermen very commonly use a kind of canoe, being a very short wide boat, made of osiers covered with hides, and worked with a paddle, answering exactly to the description of the boats of the Britons in the time of Csesar, and called a coracle: this bark is so light that the fisherman, on quitting the river, carries it upon his back, one end being pulled over his head, in the manner of a large basket. By the statute of the 30th of Charles II., cap. 9th, the conservancy of the Severn, within the county, is vested in the county magistrates, with power to appoint one or more under-conservators. The smaller streams and brooks are extremely numerous, and the waters of almost all of them finally reach the Severn; its most important tributaries are, the Camlet, the Vyrny w, the Tern, the Clun, the Ony, and the Teme. The Camlet, rising on Corndon Marsh, within a few miles of its source, runs parallel with the Ony for some distance, but upon a different level, and then turns towards the west, and afterwards to the north-west, falling into the Severn a little beyond the western confines of the county. The river Vyrnyw, on the entrance of the Severn into the county, joins it from the north, having for some, miles before its confluence formed the boundary between the counties of Salop and Montgomery. The Tern rises in Staffordshire, but shortly entering this county, pursues a southerly course of nearly thirty miles to the Severn, between four and five miles eastward of Shrewsbury. South of the Severn, and rising not far from the course of the Camlet, the Clun runs southward to the Teme near Leintwardine. The Ony, from near the source of the Camlet, joins the Teme near Oakley park. The Teme, rising on the borders of Radnorshire, runs along the southern side of this county, sometimes forming its boundary, and at others deviating on either side of it: at Ludlow this river is augmented by the Corve, which flows towards it through a long valley to which it gives name; the Teme is joined by different other minor streams, and finally quits this county, near Tenbury in Worcestershire; it is celebrated for; grayling, and contains, besides, abundance of trout.
The want of a navigable canal for conveying the produce of the more remote coal and iron mines of the eastern districts to the river Severn was long experienced, owing to the peculiar unevenness of the surface of the country over which it must pass, and the impossibility of obtaining a sufficient quantity of water for lockage; until, at last, the remedy for these obstacles was supplied by a canal from the neighbourhood of the Oaken Gates to the iron-works at Ketley, a distance of about a mile and a half, with a fall of seventy-three feet, in which, instead of lockage, an inclined plane was formed. An act of parliament was then obtained for the Shropshire canal, which was finished in 1792, and which, commencing on the north side of the London road from Shrewsbury, at a place called Donnington-Wood, and taking a course nearly southward, proceeds about one hundred yards on a level, and then ascends one hundred and twenty feet, by means of an inclined plane three hundred and twenty yards in length; from the top of this inclined plane, which is the highest level of the canal, it proceeds by the Wrockwardine and Snedshill coal and iron works, and near the Oaken Gates, where it is joined by the small Ketley canal: from this junction it is continued past other iron-works to Southallbank, where a branch, striking off to the right, terminates at Brierly hill: the main line of the canal, turning to the left at Southall-bank, goes on to the Windmill Farm, where it descends one hundred and twentysix feet, by means of an inclined plane six hundred yards long, from the bottom of which it passes by the east of Madeley to the banks of the Severn, where it descends two hundred and seven feet, by an inclined plane three hundred and fifty yards in length, and then proceeds parallel with that river, but on a level above the reach of floods, to Coalport, where it terminates; its total extent, including the branch, which is two miles and three-quarters long, is upwards of ten miles and a half: the boats navigating it are only of five tons' burden, and are drawn up the inclined planes by means of machinery worked by steam. Immediately after the completion of this, the Shrewsbury canal was projected, for supplying that town with coal, which was conveyed thither, before its completion, only by an expensive land-carriage of about fourteen miles. From the bottom of the first inclined plane of the Shropshire canal, a short cut had been made to diverge along the side of the hill towards Ketley; and of this, the Shrewsbury Canal Company purchased about a mile in extent, at the northern extremity. At the end of this is an inclined plane of seventy-five feet fall, and two hundred and twenty-three yards in length, from the bottom of which the canal passes by Eyton mill to Long-lane, a distance of four miles and a half, in which is a fall in lockage of thirty-nine feet; hence it proceeds to Long, where it crosses the river Tern and its valley, at the height of sixteen feet above the level of the latter, by means of an aqueduct of cast-iron, sixty-two yards in length, and an embankment; near this place it also crosses the road from Wellington to Shrewsbury, Sac., and thence proceeds to Roddington, where it crosses the small river Roden, by an embankment and aqueduct, at the height of twenty-one feet above the surface of the stream; it then passes through Withington to near Atcham, where it crosses another turnpike-road, and half a mile further north enters a tunnel nine hundred and seventy yards in length, from the northern end of which the canal is continued to Pimley, where it crosses another valley, by means of a small aqueduct and embankment, and then proceeds along the banks of the Severn to its termination in a large basin and coalyard at that entrance to Shrewsbury which is called the Castle-Foregate. As only small boats navigate this eanal, the locks are so formed, as to admit of two, three, or four of them passing through at a time; The Ellesmere canal, or rather system of canals, which unites the Severn, the Dee, and the Mersey, crosses the river Ceiriog into the north-western ° parts of Shropshire, by an aqueduct two hundred yards in length, and sixty-five in height, and then passes aboxit a mile, in an easterly direction, along the southern bank of that river, after which it turns towards the south-east, and passes by St. Martin's moor, where it descends thirteen feet, by means of two locks, to Frankton common, where it falls thirty feet, by four locks, to Hordley; from this latter place it passes to Weston- Llullingfields, where it terminates. At Frankton common, a branch strikes off eastward, which, after having passed close by the town of Ellesmere, proceeds by Welch-Hampton to Fens-moss, where it divides, one branch proceeding to the town of Whitchurch, the other terminating at Frees heath, near the village of Frees; this Whitchurch and Frees branch is altogether twenty-one miles in length, and entirely upon one level: from Whitchurch, however, it descends northward, by one hundred and twenty-eight feet of lockage, towards the Chester canal, near Nantwich. At Hordley is a branch from the Ellesmere canal, in a south-westerly direction, which, proceeding on a level to Aston moor, in the parish of Oswestry, there descends nineteen feet, by means of three locks, and afterwards passes by Crick heath, and through Llanymynech, to about half a mile beyond that village, where it joins the Montgomeryshire canal: this branch is upwards of eleven miles in length: it was intended to carry this canal near Leaton heath, to pass by Newton, Baschurch, &c., and to enter the Severn near Fitz, but it is doubtful whether or not this will ever be carried into effect. A canal, formed by the Marquis of Stafford, commences at Donnington- Wood, and proceeds on a level to Pave-lane, near Newport, a distance of seven miles; there is a branch from this to his lordship's lime-works at Lilleshall. Iron railways, for the conveyance of heavy articles, have been adopted to a considerable extent in this county; the whole of the extensive iron and coal tract in the vicinity of Colebrook-dale is intersected by numerous tram-roads leading from the coal-works to the different foundries, and the wharfs on the banks of the canal and the river Severn.
The great road from London to Holyhead, through Buckingham and Shrewsbury, enters this county from Shatterford in Staffordshire, and passes through Bridgenorth, Much Wenlock, Shrewsbury, and Oswestry, to Llangollen in Denbighshire. The road from London to Holyhead, through Birmingham, enters from Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, and passes through Wellington, Shrewsbury, and Ellesmere, to Overton in Flintshire. The road from London to Holyhead, through Worcester, enters the county from Tenbury in Worcestershire, passes through Burford, and (after crossing a corner of Herefordshire) through Ludlow and Bishop's Castle, to Montgomery in Wales. The road from London to Holyhead, through Chester, enters from Weston' under Lizard in Staffordshire, and passes through Newport and Whitchurch, to Chester. That from London, to Chester, through Birmingham, enters from Muckleston in Staffordshire, and passes through Dormoton and Woore, to Nantwich in Cheshire.
The relics of antiquity contained in the county are numerous and diversified. Remains of encampments, supposed by antiquaries to have been of early British formation, are to be seen in Brocard's Castle, near Church-Stretton; Bury ditches, on Tongley-hill, near the village of Basford; on the Clee hills; on the hills called Caer Caradoc, two miles and a half from Church-Stretton, and the Caer Caradoc, or Gear, near Clun; at Old Port, near Oswestry, and on the Wrekin. The principal Roman stations were Uriconium, or Firoconium, now Wroxeter, which was a chief city of the Cornavii, fortified by the Romans; and Rutunium, at Rowton; but of the exact site of the last there is a difference of opinion: there were also Bravinium, at Rushbury; Sariconium, at Bury hill; and Usacona, at Sheriff-Hales. The Roman station Mediolanum, is by some fixed near Drayton, but with more probability at Meifod. Vestiges of Roman encampments and fortifications are found in the Bury Walls, near Hawkstone; the Walls, near Chesterton; and the remains of the ancient city of Uriconium, near Wroxeter. A great Roman road enters Shropshire on the east between Crackley bank and Weston, and passes through, it in a bending line, in the vicinity of Church-Stretton, which town derives its name from it, to Leintwardine in Herefordshire, on the southern borders of this county: there are besides numerous minor vestiges of that people. Part of Offa's Dyke may be traced in the south-western part of Shropshire, which it enters from Knighton, in Radnorshire, and quits for Montgomeryshire, between Bishop's Castle and Newton; it is again visible in this county, near Llanymyneeh, on the western border, whence it proceeds across the race-course, near Oswestry, and then descends to the river Ceiriog, the northwestern boundary of the county, near Chirk, where it again enters Wales. There are the remains of a Danish camp near Cleobury-Mortimer. A very singular cave, in which were human bones, was discovered in 1809, in digging at the bottom of a rock, at Burn- Cote, near Worfield: Kynaston's Cave, in the almost perpendicular side of Nesscliffe rock, and the traditions connected with it, are worthy of notice.
The number of religious houses, including collegiate establishments and hospitals, was about forty-seven. The remains of some of them are interesting, either for beauty or antiquity; the principal are those of the abbeys of Buildwas, Hales-Owen, Haughmond, Lilleshall, Much Wenlock, Shrewsbury, and White abbey, near Alberbury; and of the priories of Bromfield, Chirbury, and White Ladies. Several of the churches, too, are interesting for their beauty and antiquity. Among the most worthy of notice are those of Burford, Cleobury-Mortimer, Ellesmere, Hales-Owen, Hodnet (which has a circular tower), Kinlet, Ludlow, Morvill, Newport, Shiffnall, Tong, and St. Mary's and St. Alkmond's, Shrewsbury. Of the ancient castles contained within the limits of the county, the great number of which has before been accounted for, some of the most remarkable that still remain, wholly, or in part, are those of Acton-Burnell; Alberbury; Bridgenorth, which was founded so far back as the year 912, by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great; Caus; Clun; Hopton; Ludlow, so long the seat of the Lords President of the Marches; Middle; Moreton-Corbet; Oswestry; Red Castle, Shrewsbury; Sibdon; Stoke > Wattles-borough, and Whittington. Among the most remarkable ancient mansions are those of Boscobel, where Charles II. was concealed after the battle of Worcester; White-hall, and Bellstone-house; Shrewsbury Council-house is also remarkable for its antiquity. Of the more modern residences of nobility and gentry, this county includes considerably more than a hundred. Shropshire contains numerous medicinal springs of various properties. At Kingley Wick, about two miles to the west of Lilleshall hill, is a strong spring of impure brine, from which salt was formerly made. There are medicinal springs of different qualities at Smeithmore and Moreton-Say, in the hundred of North Bradford; at Broseley, and at Admaston near Wellington, besides others near Ludlow; between Welbatch and Pulley common, in the vicinity of Wenlock, and on Prolley moor; that best known is Sutton Spa, about two miles to the south of Shrewsbury, and close to the village of Sutton, the waters of which are saline and chalybeate, and somewhat resemble those of Cheltenham; near Colcbrook-dale is a bituminous spring of fossil tar. Numerous fossils are found among the strata of this county, particularly in the Colebrook-dale coal district. The reseda luteola, or dyers' weed; which affords a beautiful yellow dye, grows wild in many parts of the county; and the berberis vulgaris, or common barberry, is also occasionally found in a similar uncultivated state."
[Transcribed information from A Topographical Dictionary of England - Samuel Lewis - 1831](unless otherwise stated)
[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]