Bridgnorth in Shropshire, England is a town with a population of just over 12,000.
It is composed of a Low town spanning the banks of the River Severn, (Englands longest) and the High town situated on the top of a hundred foot high sandstone hill.
At the southern end of the hill are the remains of a castle built by a Norman earl.
The Castle Keep defied the efforts of Cromwell's Roundheads to totally destroy it after the English Civil War in 1656 but its history dates before that when in 912 the Lady Æthelfleda, Queen of Mercia, eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, built a defensive mound on the site.
After the Norman invasion of 1066, Bill the Conk gave the manor of Bridgnorth to Roger de Montgomerie whose son, Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury, built a stone castle on the site. After Cromwell's attempts to knock it down, the castle Keep was left leaning at a crazy angle and defies gravity to this day surrounded by the lovely town garden which overlooks the Severn Valley to the South and the railway to the West. We now live next to the castle so it seemed a good place to begin a web page about Bridgnorth.
The town was named after a new bridge was build north of one built further south. The present one was built in 1823 designed by Thomas Telford, a Scottish stonemason who became a famous civil engineer and a one time resident of Bridgnorth.
If you would like to learn more about Thomas Telford click on the link below:
The castle used to extend from Northgate right around the high town but on 31st March 1656 the Parliamentary army captured Bridgnorth and on April 1st a fire started by the Royalist defenders destroyed all but a few houses leaving 300 people homeless and destitute. Most of the older buildings you see today in the town date from after this event and are largely half timbered.
In what is left of the castle you can clearly see where cannon balls hit, fired across the valley to the north from Panpudding Hill.
If you would like to know more about the Rugby Union league system and Bridgnorth RUFC's position in it, please click on the link below:
Up until 1786 the only road into the high town was Cartway which runs steeply up from the Bridge to the High Street. Other than that it was by one of the eight flights of shallow steps, so built for Donkeys (and pedestrians) to carry goods up and down to the river quays and other parts of the town. The river was the busiest in England in the 18th century with over 70 "trows"; shallow draft barges, employed carrying cargo down to Stourport where it was transferred to bigger vessels for onward voyage up the canal system or downstream to Bristol and beyond.
From the town bridge you look up to St Mary's Church. Our house is just behind the church and the line of houses you can see running down the hill from the church is St Mary's Steps and is our quickest way down to the low town.
The photo below looks upstream, the other way from the bridge with St Leonard's Church at the northern end of the high town at the top of the hill. Rebuilt of local red sandstone in 1860, it is no longer used for regular worship. The black and white four storey timber framed house you can see behind the willow tree on the right of the photo is one of the few that survived the fire of 1656 and was later owned by Bishop Percy (1729 - 1811). It is situated at the bottom of Cartway. On the end of the house on the left of the photo is advertised S.E & A Ridley Ltd, the oldest firm of seedsmen in Britain established in 1616! They are still going strong today.
If you would like to listen and see the words and score of the Camborne Hill song, click the link below: