If you think you know Shrewsbury, it might be time to think again. Check out our top 10 reasons to visit Shropshire’s county town
While the town has always been a popular destination for its history and vibrant town centre, just lately even more people are clamouring to visit Shrewsbury. Indeed, figures released in January (2019) showed the town was bucking the national trend for dwindling numbers of people visiting town centres. The town actually experienced an increase in footfall on the previous year.
So, what is it about Shrewsbury that takes people’s fancy? Take a look at LIVING’s top 10 reasons to visit.
1. Steeped in history
Shropshire’s county town was founded by the Saxons and developed by the Tudors, which probably explains why it is famed for its castle, spires, abbey and medieval buildings. Walking around the town, it’s hard not to take in the wealth of history in front of your eyes, all set around the River Severn.
So, it’s no surprise that in 1984 the cast and crew of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol transformed Shrewsbury into a snowy Victorian England for the film version of his book.
2. Shop, shop, shop
Shopaholics will love Shrewsbury as there are lots of stores to choose from. And you’ll find many of the traditional high street favourites on offer in indoor shopping malls too. But the town’s retail strength also lies in a wealth of independent shops. For example, Wyle Cop is thought to have the longest uninterrupted row of independent shops in the country.
3. Museum life
If you want to learn more about the town’s history then Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery tells all through its galleries. Themes include Medieval, Tudor, Stuart, Roman and Shropshire. It also has a special exhibition gallery.
Coleham Pumping Station also offers an interesting insight into the history of steam engines. Operated by the Shrewsbury Steam Trust on behalf of Shropshire Council Museums Service, it holds regular open days and events.
4. Tourist attractions
And there are many. Shrewsbury Prison, for example, is one of the country’s oldest jails. You can take a tour walking in the footsteps of prisoners and viewing one of the last working execution rooms in the country.
The Wroxeter Roman ruins are a major draw for visitors, especially since featuring on Channel 4’s Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. The site was once the fourth largest city in Roman Britain and visitors can take a tour around the ruins and explore the new Roman Town House.
Attingham Park, including the mansion house and parkland, was built for the first Lord Berwick in 1785. Now owned by the National Trust, visitors can enjoy the interesting manison house and gardens, and deer park.
5. Food and drink
There are plenty of eateries to choose from including traditional English pubs to Italian, Asian, French and Mexican. From Carluccio’s in the Square to the Armoury, which overlooks the river, there really is something for all tastes.
Shrewsbury Food Festival, which this year runs from June 29-30, is held at the Quarry Park and around the town and features plenty of tasty treats, with food stalls, demo stages, live music and kids’ activities.
6. Places to stay
Well-situated caravan and camping sites offer views over the Shropshire countryside, as do holiday parks and cottages.
The town’s four-star Prince Rupert Hotel is the former home of King James I’s grandson Prince Rupert and is said to be one of the town’s finest hotels.
The Loopy Shrew provides 12 boutique bedrooms, a wine bar, restaurant and coffee bar. And there are ample B&Bs.
7. Parks and gardens
Shrewsbury has its own 29-acre parkland known as The Quarry.
Enjoy a carnival, regatta and dragon boat racing here. It also has riverside walks, a bandstand and lots of places to enjoy a picnic. At its centre lies the Dingle. This is a formal floral masterpiece created by Blue Peter’s Percy Thrower during his 28 years as park’s superintendent.
Each August The Quarry also hosts the Shrewsbury Flower Show, boasting millions of blooms, show jumping and military bands among other things.
Visitors can also head to Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies, created in the 18th Century and covering 100 acres. It is centred around the Red Castle and Grotto Hill and offers unspoilt views of the Shropshire countryside and beyond.
8. Castles and battles
If you love soaking up the history of a medieval castle then the town is the perfect place to visit. Shrewsbury Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1067 and since then has under gone several restorations.
Moreton Corbet Castle was built in 1239 by the Corbet family and is now an atmospheric ruin in the nearby village of Moreton Corbet.
And the Castle of Acton Burnell is also worth a look. It was built for comfort rather than battle in the 13th century and parliaments were twice held there.
Shrewsbury’s national award-winning indoor market offers eclectic shopping and has even been compared to some of the coolest markets in London.
It boasts a full range of cafes, artisan producers, gift boutiques, vintage specialists, artists and craftspeople, alongside the family butchers and fresh fruit and veg sellers.
Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market is also held in the town square once a month, usually on the first Friday of the month.
10. The River Severn
Whether you want to walk alongside it and admire the view or take a leisurely cruise along the water, the river is probably the town’s most famous feature.
There are restaurants and bars situated on the riverbank and as you shop and eat or take in the gardens at the Quarry, it will be hard not to notice it.