Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Ye olde and not so olde

Shrewsbury, however you want to pronounce it, is a pretty town and conveniently close to Newtown to jump on a train with a day return and a cup of tea. Although it’s just over the border in England, you could make a case for still being in Powys for it was the capital of that region in the 5th century when it was called Pengwern. There’s plenty there to occupy a couple of days I would say and I never got to the Abbey or anywhere near the battlefield of 1403 where Henry IV defeated Hotspur (Hotspur, apparently, decided to open the visor of his helmet for a breath of fresh air just at the wrong moment and was shot in the head by an arrow). But enough of what I didn’t see and a little bit more of what I did do on a rather full afternoon.

I suspect you'll have to go a long way before you come across such a concentration of half timbered houses. I would think that by their very nature they would be far from fire proof and it should not be forgotten that while this may be the grand design of tudor living the Tudor's also brought us smoking in bed (as well as the potato, but that has little relevence to this tale). When you look up in Shrewsbury, and few towns encourage looking up quite so much, you begin to notice that many of the dates on buildings are far from Tudor and indeed many of the half timbered buildings are indeed Elizabethan, the current Elizabeth that is, or Victorian or something inbetween. A bad thing? I think not, when you look at some of the other buildings about the country that town planners have chucked up, then I think a little copying of the past doesn't go amiss and certainly gives this town a bit of character.

That good old multinational Costa Coffee certainly looks ancient, and I suspect that the major part of the house is, but when you look at the carvings round about it, you see that they were done in around 1990, in fact the one below "celebrates" the poll tax with a carving of Mrs Thatcher and Michael Heseltine.

Sorry, hope you're not feeling too ill after that.

The statue which has found it's way into the picture above, with his right arm in a heroic pose, is Clive of India, who was one of the local town worthies, or unworthy perhaps if you hail from the subcontinent. Without a doubt though, the most famous person to come out of Shrewsbury was Mr Charles Darwin, who's theories did much for the evolution of common sense.

Down by the river there is the following interesting structure to celebrate his bicentenary which has been given the snappy title of  "The Darwin Memorial Geo-garden Quantum leap"

On the front of St Mary the Virgin church, which has the 3rd highest spire in England, there is the following plaque

A cautionary tale and a little typing saved. St Mary's church has one of the finest collections of stained glass in the country, but that is the next blog.


Rocket Man said...

I like that plaque! Interesting tour, Sandy. Thanks for taking me along.

Sandy's witterings said...

You're very welcome, thanks for dropping by Chip.

Anonymous said...

Shrewsbury looks a lovely place to go exploring, love that poll tax carving, it's a classic.

Sandy's witterings said...

Shrewsbury is just spot on for an afternoons wanderings Poppy. I'm a bit resigned that from time to time Mrs Thatcher's image is going to appear to frighten us but Michael Heseltine! - In a few years time most folk are going to be wondering who that is in the carving up there.