Shrewsbury, Shropshire, is a tranquil town located around 45 miles west of Birmingham. Its history can be seen in the architecture of its historical buildings, as well as the renowned Shrewsbury Castle, an incredibly preserved structural relic of the 11th century.
Today, Shrewsbury is a proud, inviting town – and visitors will never be short of things to do.
A History of Shrewsbury
Today, Shrewsbury is commonly thought of as an idyllic, peaceful area – though this hasn’t always been the case.
It’s thought that Shrewsbury has its origins in the late 8th century, over 2000 years ago, when the Saxons settled. Nestled in a loop of the River Severn, it became a perfect, strategic spot that was given the name Scrobbesbyrig – or Shrewsbury, as we know it today.
In the middle ages, the Normans built a wooden fort in the town, though this was later besieged by men from Chester and Wales. Following these events, Roger de Montgomery (a relative of William the Conqueror) became the very first Earl of Shrewsbury, going on to build a castle in the exact same location that Shrewsbury Castle stands in today. Shrewsbury was also amongst the first towns to receive grants to build paving (for the new market) and town walls, to protect from invaders. In the 1200s, though, Llywelyn the Great stormed the town – twice.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Shrewsbury became the economic centre of the wool trade. It was a stronghold for royalists in the Civil War, though it later fell to parliament after a traitor allowed them access – hence, the name Traitors Gate.
Though it reached its economic peak in the medieval times, Shrewsbury has since grown with the development of railway tracks and stations. It has remained an important historic epicentre, with a rich and well-documented history.
Things to do in Shrewsbury
Originally built in 1070, this monolithic structure stands guard proudly atop a hill, facing precariously out into the vast River Severn. Whilst it might have once served as a battalion, Shrewsbury castle today acts as the location for a complete military museum, displaying relics (from medals to uniforms) from the last 300 years.
The castle can also serve as an elegant venue for civil ceremonies; a beautiful building with a fantastic story to mark a hugely significant event.
The loop of the Severn carefully caresses this picturesque 29-Acre parkland. Cited as being one of the most important places for recreation and socialising since the 16th century, The Quarry is still regularly used as a prime relaxation area for thousands of people every day.
With incredible walks and wonderful scenery, it’s easy to see how the Quarry has remained such an important part of Shrewsbury.
If you enjoy getting outdoors for unique, memorable experiences, you’ll love the Battlefield Falconry. An educational and fun experience, perfect for adults and kids alike, it’s a great chance for you to not only learn about, but to handle an assortment of rare birds.
You might be surprised at the size of certain falcons, hawks, eagles and owls! It’s just recommended that you book in advance, as the falconry can get busy.
Places to Stay in Shrewsbury
Drapers Hall is an elegant, contemporary restaurant and hotel based in a gorgeous half-timber Tudor house. Known not only for its fine dining and excellent rooms, but it’s historical significance and regular heritage days, Drapers Hall is a luxurious venue that must be seen to be believed.
Fronted by Head Chef Richard Nair, who isn’t a stranger to the AA Rosette, visitors will be treated to excellent meals with rich, deep wines.
Mercure Shrewsbury Albrighton Hotel
A hotel, spa and wellness retreat in a beautiful stately home – what’s not to love?
Mercure Shrewsbury is a stunning hotel, surrounded by pristine gardens and incredible landscaping. Overlooking an ornamental lake, with a friendly and accommodating front of house team, guests are sure to have a relaxing, tranquil stay. The hotel can also provide guests with a gym pass, so there’s no excuse for skipping your workout!
Darwin’s townhouse is a boutique bed and breakfast located in the heart of Shrewsbury. It’s an eclectic and quirky venue, decorated with vintage gramophones, plaques and familiar Victorian decorations; it’s a perfect tribute to Darwin.
Complete with images of the man himself and a distinctly Victorian theme, it’s a cosy townhouse hotel oozing with charisma. Offering bed and breakfast alongside a variety of gourmet food, Darwin’s Townhouse really does have everything you’ll need for a fantastic time.
Places to Eat and Drink in Shrewsbury
Run by the same family as the Townhouse mentioned above, Darwin’s Kitchen is an outstanding restaurant with a mixture of fine dining and comfort food. Set in a botanist’s daydream, diners will be treated to a luxurious menu as they’re surrounded by vibrant plants and colourful guests. This rosette winning restaurant only uses the very best locally sourced and seasonal produce, delivering an American/British taste.
La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita is a breathtaking venue in every aspect. Italian inspired dishes made using the very best ingredients, designer seating and tables, as well as a jaw-dropping, vined ceiling – all add to the charm of this Michelin starred restaurant.
It is worth noting that La Dolce Vita is on the smaller side, so it’s strongly recommended to book in advance if you’re looking to secure a table.
The Walrus is a five-star restaurant, dedicated to providing a luxurious dining experience to anyone who may visit. Using seasonal, high-grade produce, the menu is frequently changing, so you’ll usually find something new on the menu each time you visit. Interestingly, The Walrus also grows some of its own fruit, vegetables, and herbs in an exclusive, walled-off garden. It’s no surprise that this friendly venue has two Michelin stars.