South West Shropshire

 For the purpose of this web site, South West Shropshire includes the towns of Bishop's Castle, Church Stretton and Clun and covers thirty-three parishes. Here are details of a few of them.


Bettws-y-Crwyn can be found some 15 miles, or so west of Craven Arms, and it looks down on the remainder of the county in a rather spectacular fashion. On a clear day has views to rival any in the county. It is hill country at its best, and home of the Kerry and Clun breeds of sheep. In parts of this large parish, atop of the hills, the stunted and bent trees at the road-side speak of bleak winters when wind and snow must make it a hard place to live, but in the valleys the lush growth implies a fertility and warmth that is hard to match. The church of St. Mary stands at an altitude of almost 1,300 feet and is said to be one of the highest churches in England. It is a lonely, windswept place with no signs of an earlier village to have induced the builders of over seven centuries ago to found a church here.

Bishop's Castle is a small, rural parish and market town some 12 miles NW of Craven Arms. Because of it being a hill town, Bishop's Castle seems to lack a definite centre. In reality, the combined lengths of Church Street and High Street, running from the castle at the top to St. John's Church at the foot of the hill form the centre. The most interesting building in Bishop's Castle, and probably the most photographed, is the 'house on crutches' which has its upper floor supported on posts. Probably more through neglect through the ages than design, it is believed to have changed little since being built in the early 17th-century. Further towards the top of the hill stands the Castle Hotel, a rather impressive hotel for such a small town, which is dated 1719 and stands on part of the site of the original castle.
To the west of Bishop's Castle, the land rises towards the Welsh border. The wildness of that countryside is an indication of the need for a series of defensive positions along the border at a time when, although the Normans had conquered England, they could not conquer the Welsh.

Cardington can be found to the east of All Stretton. The village of Cardington lies to the western end of the parish and is a rather nice village with stone houses huddled around the church rather than being strung along a single road. Towards the eastern end of the parish is Plaish. Plaish Hall was built by Judge William Leighton and is the earliest example of brick in the county. He seems to be the victim of a tale which recounts that at the time of building the Hall he was trying a prisoner at the Shropshire Assizes. The prisoner, an expert chimney builder, pleaded for his life and said he would build the finest chimneys ever if he was reprieved. The resulting magnificent chimneys are still there to be seen.

The Parish of Chirbury lies on the B4386, to the south west of Shrewsbury. Chirbury lies in the mouth of a valley and was obviously an important junction of routes long before the roads were metalled. Its church, dedicated to St. Michael, is impressive and its size is explained by the fact that here was once a priory.
Nearby Priest Weston is a village that 'perches' seemingly stuck to the side of the hill. Here there are signs of the area's mining past, with disused shafts and quarries as well as 'The Miners Arms' . Above the village stands the legendary Mitchell's Fold, a stone circle believed to be the work of Neolithic man. Nearby is Middleton, and a former vicar, the Reverend Waldegrave Brewster, has left a marvellous record of both life at that time and the legends of the area. (see
Legends & People) The church at Middleton, though a simple structure is of interest because it contains carvings done by Brewster depicting the legends of the area.