For the purpose of this web site, North West Shropshire includes the towns of Oswestry, Ellesmere and Wem. There are thirty-two parishes in this area, and here are a few details of each of them.
St Michael's Church in the village
of Alberbury is externally a mixture of ages from its
13th century tower to its 19th century chancel.Inside, the magnificent
arcade and nave roof, the fine old pews, and the chapel and numerous
monuments to the Leighton family make this a very personal church
that is very much a part of the parish and manor.
Baschurch is a village and parish about eight miles north-west of Shrewsbury. It was mentioned in the Domesday book as Bascherche and simply means the Church of Bassa. Bassa was a Saxon chief and is believed by many that as early as the 6th century this church was here and that this is the place the British Poet Llywarc wrote about 14 centuries ago when he recorded a battle against the invading Saxons It is believed the battle took place a mile or so north of the village of Baschurch where stands the ancient fortress now known as The Berth. . More recently this site has been suggested as being the resting place of King Arthur. (See Shropshire's Secrets).
Broughton is a parish just south of Wem and is cut by the railway line and the north-south B5476. It is one of those parishes with little to show for the passing of the centuries, but its history goes back two thousand years or more to a Roman fortification in the south of the parish at Yorton Bank.
The present church is dedicated to St. Mary, and it is said that materials from the Roman site were used in its walls. From an earlier church can be seen the font together with a pyx of hammered silver.
According to Susan Poultney, there is (or was) a house known as 'The Bull Shop' near Broughton Bank, on the Shrewsbury to Wem road, which was formerly a smithy where the shoeing of cattle was practiced. In the days before modern transport, it was necessary to drive cattle from one market to another. An example of this are the many 'drove' roads. This, when roads were repaired with stone, etc., was very hard on the poor animals feet, especially a serving bull which might do a considerable mileage in the course of procreation in a year. And so, it was necessary to shod the hooves as one would with a horse, except, of course, that the shoes would be in two parts because of the cloven hooves.
Clive is a respectable and very attractive village which has seen some building in recent years, but most of the village is of local sandstone. It is the birthplace of William Wycherley, a Restoration dramatist of some repute. But other reports of the man are not so glowing, and one critic even went as far as to say that the only certainty about Wycherley is that he wrote notoriously coarse plays.
Clive church stands on the slopes of the hill above the village and is a landmark for many miles. The church is dedicated to All Saints and most of it is the result of rebuilding towards the end of the 19th century, but its Norman origins can still be seen in the shape of two doorways and some 12th and 15th century masonry.
From the church, the road dips down the hill to the south through a sandstone cutting, as if advertising the fact that Clive was built on sandstone both literally and financially. Considering the Romans quarried stone from almost two thousand years ago, and that many of the early buildings in America were faced with Grinshill stone, as well as many famous buildings in this country, the wealth has created, even today, a slightly up-market feel to Clive which is, perhaps, not enjoyed by some of the surrounding villages, except, of course, Grinshill.
Cockshutt parish and village can be found immediately to the south of Ellesmere, and both village and parish are bisected by the A528 Shrewsbury to Ellesmere road. It is one of those parishes typical of North Shropshire in that it has no specific feature, such as a hill or valley, to give it character, yet it still creates a character of its own. The village of Cockshutt suffers a little from being on a sometimes busy main road. The church is a mainly 18th-century brick structure with some 19th- century alterations. Although a pleasant spot it is not one of Shropshire's most attractive villages, but, having said that, there are a couple of timber-framed cottages as nice as any you'll find on a chocolate box.
In the north of the parish are two of the meres which make up Shropshire's Lake District. They are Crose Mere and the minute Sweat Mere. Today, Crose Mere is said to be a favourite spot for anglers, whereas neighbouring Sweat Mere is known for its abundant wildlife. Elsewhere in the parish, the houses of architectural note are perhaps somewhat grander, with Shade Oak taking pride of place. Although it must be remembered when viewing a black and white building that all that is black is not necessarily wood, Shade Oak is a magnificent sight from the road and has an interior and history worthy of greater study.
The urban and rural districts of Ellesmere have, for a long time, been known to many as the Shropshire Lake District. The numerous meres were formed by retreating glaciers, or at least that is what experts want us to believe. As most Salopians know, the truth is that there was once an old woman who locked up her well to prevent her neighbour from using it. The well eventually overflowed, drowned the mean old woman and formed the Mere. The Shropshire Union Canal is very much a part of the town's more recent history, and many people are surprised to discover that Ellesmere Port in Cheshire was once just that, - the sea port for Ellesmere.