July 2022 – ‘Poets, artists, and writers at Wroxeter’

In July Roger White took us on a guided tour of Wroxeter from the perspective of the poets, artists and writers who have been inspired by the site from the time of its first excavations in 1859. Roger White has just completed a book on this subject entitled ‘Ashes Under Uricon’, and the tour took us to the forum and then down to the village where the artist Tom Prytherch lived and worked. It gave us an opportunity to see the site from a different perspective, and think about how changes in how the site is managed might once again inspire artistic endeavour at Wroxeter.

June 2022 – A Visit to Acton Burnell

In June David Pannett led us on an exploration of the castle, church and village of Acton Burnell, revealing the contribution of successive owners, in particular Robert Burnell, once chancellor to Edward I, who has left his mark on the village with fine buildings, using local stone, which centuries before had also been used at Wroxeter.

May 2022 – ‘Shropshire: there and back again’, followed by a guided Tour of the garden at
Winterbourne House, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our May excursion was a trip to Edgbaston, where Lee Hale, Head of Winterbourne Garden, gave us a talk and tour of the botanical gardens at Winterbourne House. Winterbourne House is the botanical garden located at the University of Birmingham. However, before this it was the Nettlefold’s family home (Nettlefold is the N in GKN). Their house was built in the green fields of Edgbaston, on the outskirts of Birmingham at the same time as the University was being founded, in around 1900, so their house is a lovely example of an integrated Arts and Crafts house and garden. The house has been restored in part to reflect the family’s use of it, and to reconnect to the largely intact plantings of the era to be found in the garden.

April 2022 – ‘The King’s Writ does not run here’: The Welsh Marcher Lordship’ by Philip Hume

The medieval Marcher Lordships were a region between England and Wales that, politically and administratively, didn’t belong fully to either. Within each of the nearly 50 lordships, the Marcher Lord had unique regal-like powers with their own laws, judicial powers, and access to resources and armies. In this talk Philip Hume explored the origins and development of the Marcher Lordships in the context of the 200-year struggle for control of Wales, with particular reference to the Marcher Lordships of West Shropshire

March 2022 – ‘Llansilin. A Welsh village through time’ by Paul Hughes

Llansilin is a village in the north-east corner of Powys, less than a mile from the border with England. Yet the Welsh language is widely spoken there and the area retains a strong Welsh identity, and an important place in history thanks to Owain Glyndŵr’s home nearby at Sycharth. In this talk, Paul Hughes – a Llansilin lad long resident in Australia – traced the history of the village and surrounding area from the earliest known human settlement to the present day.

February 2022 – ‘Old Oswestry Hillfort: recent work’ by Tim Malim

As the editor of the recent book “Old Oswestry Hillfort and its Landscape”, Tim Malim brought us up to date on the latest discoveries on the site which have been focusing on re-examining Varley’s trenches, excavated in 1939-40.

January 2022 – ‘Aethelflaed, the Mercians and the River Severn’

Our first meeting of 2022 was a talk by Dr Morn Capper on ‘Aethelflaed, the Mercians and the River Severn’. Dr Capper’s research investigates the development of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia and relations with its neighbours (political, cultural, social and economic). She is currently researching how relations of power interacted with regional identity and culture during the making of Mercian hegemony over Anglo-Saxon England, and questions Mercian lordship and frontiers under the rulers Aethelred and Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians with particular respect to Shropshire and Shrewsbury.

December 2021 – Winter Social Event

Our Winter Social Event in December 2021 was held at the Castlefields Community Centre, Shrewsbury. A talk by Penny Ward of the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings on the development of the suburb of Castlefields was followed by a short walk to view some of the locations covered by the talk.

November 2021 – ‘Mytton of Halston’

Our talk for November 2021 was by Nigel Hinton on the subject of ‘Mytton of Halston’. Myttons have been established in Shropshire for centuries. Family members have provided the Shrewsbury Drapers Company with masters; the towns of Shrewsbury and Oswestry with bailiffs and mayors; the counties of Shropshire and Merioneth with high sheriffs and Parliament with members for Shrewsbury and Shropshire. The family built a property empire by hard work and marriage settlements and acquired Halston after the Reformation. This talk was based on recent research for a new book and briefly set out elements of some of nineteen generations of Mytton, their families and some of their well-known and lesser-known contributions to the history of Shropshire.

March 2020:  The Archaeology of Mead: Evidence from Roman Wroxeter and post-Roman Tintagel Castle

Our March talk was given by Cameron Moffett (English Heritage Trust).  In the post-Roman world mead may have been a high-status drink, taking its place in the hospitality and feasting that were part of a ruler’s obligations.  In this talk Cameron drew on archaeological evidence from Wroxeter and Tintagel for the production and consumption of mead in the late Roman and early medieval periods.

February 2020: Haughmond Abbey in its theological context

February’s talk was given by the Revd. Canon Jeff West.  Formerly a Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings with English Heritage, Jeff West, together with Nicholas Palmer, carried out excavations at Haughmond Abbey on behalf of the DoE from 1975-9.  The report on the excavations, published in 2014, contains a discussion of the results of the 1975 to 1979 excavations, and includes specialist reports on the finds, a report on a 2002 earthwork survey, analysis and recording of the standing masonry and a comprehensive programme of documentary research.  In this talk, Jeff West discussed the abbey in its theological context.

January 2020:  Blood, Faith and iron: a dynasty of Catholic Industrialists in 16th- and 17th-century England

Our first talk of 2020 was given by Paul Belford, Director of the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust.  The Brooke family acquired land in the Ironbridge Gorge at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, invested in coal mining and iron production, and introduced a radical new method of steel-making which transformed that industry 200 years before the Iron Bridge was built.  In this talk Dr Belford told their story and looked at how the Brookes’ Catholicism was reflected in the way they created a new industrial landscape.

Winter Social Meeting, December 2019

Our 2019 Winter Social Event was held at Shrewsbury Castle.  In 2019 the castle was the focus of much attention with excavations led by Nigel Baker, who presented some of the results at this well-attended meeting.

Castle Studies Trust blog: Exploring Shrewsbury Castle

November 2019: Tradition, influence and impact – St Milburga of Wenlock and her monks in a regional setting.

John Hunt of the University of Birmingham gave our November talk, which focused on the origins and early development of the Saxon and Norman abbeys at Much Wenlock.  (We are grateful to The Gateway Centre, Shrewsbury, for accommodating us at short notice.)

Our October talk was given by Ian Purchase, a volunteer with the National Trust at Attingham Park.  In his talk, Ian outlined some of the background to the work the National Trust has recently undertaken to restore John Nash’s picture gallery and staircase at Attingham Park.  For more details of the project, please follow this link: Through the Roof project

Annual Lecture, September 2019

The Society’s Annual Lecture this year, was given by Heather Sebire, of the English Heritage Trust, who talked on ‘The restoration of the Iron Bridge’.  In autumn 2017, English Heritage embarked on the largest conservation project in its history, preserving for the future the Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale.  After surrounding the bridge with scaffolding and protective covering, a team of experts began their conservation work.  The cast iron elements were repaired, the masonry conserved, the deck resurfaced, and the entire structure was cleaned and repainted in its original red-brown colour.  Heather Sebire, Property Curator at English Heritage, related to us the fascinating story of this important restoration project.

July 2019: CBA West Midlands AGM & Summer Field Day

For our July meeting this year we joined the CBA West Midlands for their AGM and Summer Field Day which was held at the Ditherington Flaxmill Maltings, Shrewsbury.  The day included a range of talks about some of the latest work and research around the Shrewsbury area.  Among the speakers were Roger White (University of Birmingham) on “Dating the dark ages, or how 30 years really makes a difference”, Giles Carey (Shropshire Council HER Officer) “Capturing the Castle: recent survey work at Caus Castle and Castle Pulverbatch”, Tim Jenkins (University of Chester at Shrewsbury) “The rediscovery of Vaughan’s Mansion”, Paul Belford (CEO Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust) “The Brooke family: Catholic iron masters”, and Richard Benjamin (Friends of Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings) “The restoration of Ditherington Flaxmill Maltings”.  In the afternoon there were tours of the Flaxmill Maltings site and Shrewsbury’s Castlefields suburb.  The meeting was well attended and was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting day.

June 2019: Stokesay

Following English Heritage’s recent improvements to the interpretation and catering facilities at their Stokesay Castle site, David Pannett led our June field meeting at Stokesay.   David helped us explore all around the castle site, and explained the many features there, including the river channels, mills, bridges, building stones etc.

May 2019: Castle Pulverbatch

Our May 2019 field meeting took place at Castle Pulverbatch, recognised as one of the finest examples of a motte and bailey castle in the county.  In 2017 Giles Carey,  Shropshire Council’s Historic Environment Records Officer led a programme of geophysical survey and UAV survey at Castle Pulverbatch, taking advantage of recent scrub clearance by the Friends of Castle Pulverbatch.  Giles explored the castle with us, explaining the results of the recent survey work.

Castle Pulverbatch 3D model

For a fuller account of these surveys please follow this link: Recent survey work at Caus Castle and Castle Pulverbatch

April 2019: ‘An Anglo-Saxon hall at Atcham: excavations and explorations in 2017’

Cropmarks of two or three timber buildings were revealed by photography in 1975 on a gravel ridge near Atcham, Shropshire. This site is unique in the West Midlands and probably represents the centre of power of an important Saxon overlord. Following a geophysical survey of the site by ArchaeoPhysica (now TigerGeo) in 2011, Dr Roger White of Birmingham University and Janine Young of the National Trust carried out trial excavations on the site in June 2017.  For our April talk, Roger gave us an account of these excavations which not only provided confirmation of the dating of the timber halls, but also provided evidence for prehistoric and Roman activity on the site.

March 2019: ‘Thomas Telford and the Holyhead Road in East Shropshire’

In March Neil Clarke gave us a talk about the section of the Holyhead Road between Shrewsbury and the county boundary at the Summer House, covering Telford’s proposals and the finance and construction of the thirteen major civil engineering works on this section.

February 2019:  A Review of Recent Archaeological Investigations in Shropshire

Our talk in February this year was given by Dr Andy Wigley, Historic & Natural Environment Manager, Shropshire Council.  Dr Wigley provided us with a brief overview of how archaeology is dealt with in the planning process before giving a summary of recent interesting findings from developer-funded archaeological fieldwork around the county.

January 2019: Shropshire Seals and Seal matrices from the 12th to the 18th centuries

In January 2019 John Cherry gave us a talk on Shropshire Seals and Seal matrices from the 12th to the 18th centuries. Shropshire Museums have recently acquired a silver seal found by a metal detectorist at Wrockwardine, which may have belonged to the 13th century prior of a local abbey. Shropshire Museums were very generously aided by the Art Fund towards purchasing the seal. In his talk, John Cherry looked at a number of seals and seal matrices associated with or originating in Shropshire from the 12th century onwards.

More information and images of the seal (picture used with permission of British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme) can be found here: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/757251

December 2018 Social Event at Adcote School
Adcote School

Our winter social event in 2018 was held at Adcote School on Friday 7th December. The medieval settlement of Addecote has a written history going back to the Norman Conquest. The present house dates to 1876 and was designed by Norman Shaw RA to a Tudor design and stands in 27 acres of landscaped gardens. The house was owned by the Darby family until being converted to a school in the early 20th century.

November 2018: Shrewsbury’s Town Walls

Our November 2018 talk was on Shrewsbury’s Town Walls, by Hugh Hannaford. Shrewsbury’s town walls date back to the 1220s. They were maintained and repaired for the next 500 years, but since the middle of the 18th century they have been overwhelmed in places by neglect and development. This talk took the form of a virtual tour of the town walls, looking at what survives, and at some recent work to enhance and conserve the town’s medieval defences.

2018 AGM and Annual Lecture: The Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings Project

The Society’s Annual General Meeting, was held on Saturday 22nd September 2018 at The Shirehall, Shrewsbury and was well attended. It was followed by the Annual Lecture which this year was on “The Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings Project” and was given by Nick Hill of Historic England.

Built in 1797, Shrewsbury’s Flax Mill is renowned as the earliest iron-framed building in the world. Abandoned since 1987 when the Maltings closed, and derelict for many years, the site is now undergoing a major transformation. The Main Mill and the Kiln are the focus of a £25m programme of repair and regeneration, one of the largest HLF-funded projects in the country. Nick Hill, Historic England’s project manager, outlined the latest developments on the project, including the intricate repairs to the Main Mill and recent archaeological discoveries.

More Castle visit, July 2018

More Castle is one of many motte and bailey castles built in this area by the Normans following the Conquest in 1066. The Normans quickly formed a network of timber castles across this landscape, to assert their authority on the locals and to keep a watchful eye for Welsh raids from the west. On our short walk from Lydham to More and back we visited the earthwork remains of the castle. We looked at St Peter’s Church, with it’s Roman mosaics and More family chapel, and made a quick tour around the village.

February 2018: “Samuel More – Hero or Villain?”

This talk by Nick Marshall looked at one of the characters of the Civil War in Shropshire. Samuel More was a member of Shropshire’s landed gentry whose father, Richard, was Master of the Linley estate and MP for Bishop’s Castle from 1640. Samuel is best known for his staunch defence of Hopton Castle for the Parliamentary cause in 1644, a siege which came to an horrific end… but there is another story attached to him, one which remained a mystery until 1959 when a chance discovery in the archives of Linley Hall brought it to light.

January 2018: “William Hazledine and John Simpson – Telford’s right hand men”

This talk by Andrew Pattison explored the contribution of ironmaster William Hazledine and builder and architect John Simpson who were so instrumental in realising Telford’s, and others’ plans and designs.