South East Shropshire

 For the purpose of this web site, South East Shropshire includes the towns of Much Wenlock & Bridgnorth

There are thirty-seven parishes in this area, here are details of a few.

Despite being only about 3 miles south of Much Wenlock, the parish of Acton Round is an extremely rural area. The village of Acton Round itself can easily be mistaken for a couple of houses on a bend. The present church is an ancient stone building in the Tudor style with a timber-framed belfry. It is a solid structure and a comfort to visit. The porch is particularly interesting for its time worn beams and 700-year-old scrolled hinges.
Acton Round Hall was built in the 18th century as a dower house for the Acton family's principal estate at nearby Alderham. It is a magnificent example of a manor house and one can imagine that it and its surroundings have changed little. But the pagoda in the garden is certainly not of that era. Neither are some of the statues in the garden, the monument on a hillock across the road and even the letter-box let in the Manor house wall dating back to the reign of King George. Is this a village of Follies? There are more, should you care to look closely!

Astley Abbotts is a pleasant parish immediately north of Bridgnorth, straddling the B4373 Bridgnorth to Broseley road. The church in the village of Astley Abbotts is dedicated to St. Calixtus who was a Bishop of Rome martyred in the 3rd century. Inside can be found the faded remains of a 'maiden's garland', a heart shaped wooden frame decorated with gloves, cloth and ribbons. Such garlands were once the fashion to commemorate maidens who died before marriage. The one at Astley Abbotts has a ribbon-like piece of paper saying, in still legible handwriting, that it commemorates Hannah Phillips who drowned while crossing the Severn on the eve of her wedding. Nearby is Stanley Hall, a magnificent, red brick, building with a gabled end and incorporating traces of a possibly earlier sandstone building. The grounds are extensive and well tended, but unfortunately it is not open to the public because many believe it is one of the finest houses in the country

Badger is a small parish and extremely picturesque village on the Staffordshire border about five miles north-east of Bridgnorth. In the early nineteenth century, Badger Hall was the home of Isaac Hawkins Brown, MP for Much Wenlock, a man who seems to have passed into history only to be remembered as 'a good lawyer but a poor poet'. The hall has long been demolished, but in its heyday it must have been an impressive manor, not just for the house, which is said to have been a 'noble brick mansion', but for the grounds which included the landscaping of the village itself , where a series of ponds carried the water through various levels. In the village one can still see traces of the estate's 'industries' in deserted barns and yards. In recent years these grounds have been much restored to their former glory.

The parish of Barrow lies to the east of Much Wenlock, and in the north of the parish lies Benthall with its hall which is now in the hands of the National Trust. The house dates from the mid-16th century and is a beautiful stone building standing at the end of a long drive leading from the Broseley-Much Wenlock (B4375) road.
The Benthall area was also active in the industrial era with such companies as the Benthall and Haybrook Potteries, tile manufacturing by Messers Maw (of Benthall Hall), and stoneware manufactured by the Benthall Pottery Company as well as the famous clay pipe works.
To the south of Benthall lies the village of Barrow on the B4376 Broseley to Much Wenlock road. The Church of St. Giles is said to be one of the oldest in the country, with a chancel which possibly dates back as far as the 8th century. But, like many old churches, alterations and repairs mean there is very little original left to see. In the churchyard is the grave of Tom Moody, a famous whipper-in to the local hunt, some centuries ago.

The parish and village of Broseley lie some six miles north of Bridgnorth perched high on the edge of the Severn Gorge. Perhaps because of its industrial heritage, Broseley has an air of the industrial north about it. Red brick is the main building material in a functional style with little decoration. Although Ironbridge gets most of the credit, it was here that much of the early industrial revolutions started, but the evidence has to be carefully sought out from where it hides behind its modern facade. One place to look is in the churchyard its cast-iron tombs The most magnificent example must be that shown by the Iron Master, John Wilkinson, who was buried in a cast-iron coffin with a cast-iron monument. Probably the greatest of his many creations was his iron boat, and he wrote to a friend on July 17th 1787:"Yesterday week my iron boat was launched, it answers all my expectations, and has convinced the unbelievers who were 999 in every 1000."