Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire and nine miles from the Welsh border, is almost completely encircled by the River Severn. Perched on its vantage point directly above the river bank, the School is a ten-minute walk from the town centre and enjoys a fine view of it across an extensive park (‘The Quarry’), which plays host each August to the Shrewsbury Flower Show, the longest-running flower show in the world.
Known as ‘Scrobbesbyrig’ in Saxon times, the town’s origins date back to the 5th and 6th centuries. Its history is very visible: Shrewsbury has over 660 historic listed buildings, several of them dating from Tudor times. They include a Norman abbey dating back to 1083 (the setting for Ellis Peters’ ‘Brother Cadfael’ novels), a medieval castle dating from 1074, and the 16th century Old Market Hall, which now house a cinema and café.
Part of the town’s medieval street plan still exists too, with many ‘shutts’ and ‘passages’ – a maze of narrow alleys, which criss-cross the town centre.
Throughout the town there are numerous boutiques and quirky independent shops, restaurants and cafés, and a huge indoor market. Shrewsbury is one of the few places in the UK where the independent shops outnumber the big chains – one of the reasons it has earned the title of 'Healthiest High Street in the UK'. It also carries the distinction of being named twice in the last two years by Rightmove among the top 10 Happiest Places to Live in the UK, and has Purple Flag status for town safety.
Shropshire is one of England’s most rural counties, and the countryside all around Shrewsbury is some of the most beautiful and unspoilt in the country. The School makes good use of its proximity to the South Shropshire hills – 15 minutes’ drive away – which are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and stretch for miles.
Shropshire was not always so rural, however. Ten miles east of Shrewsbury, the Ironbridge Gorge is known throughout the world as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Now a World Heritage Site, this is where Abraham Darby developed a method of producing high-grade iron in a blast furnace fuelled by coke rather than charcoal, allowing much cheaper production of iron – one of the key raw materials for the new Industrial Age. In 1779 his grandson built the world’s first iron bridge, which gave the town its name.
One of Shropshire’s other claims to world fame lies in the little town of Much Wenlock, ten miles to the south of Shrewsbury. Here Dr William Penny Brookes organised the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850. When, in 1890, the games were attended by a certain Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the two men discussed enthusiastically their shared dream of reviving the Olympic Games of the Ancient Greeks. “If the Olympic Games … still survives today,” wrote de Coubertin, “it is due, not to a Greek, but to Dr W.P. Brookes”.
For more information about Shrewsbury, please visit http://www.originalshrewsbury.co.uk/
For a list of recommended places to stay if you are visiting Shrewsbury School please follow the link: Local Accommodation List