Shrewsbury Abbey


A Brief History of Shrewsbury Abbey

GOD has been worshipped in this place for over one thousand years, initially in a small Saxon church and subsequently in this great Benedictine Abbey Church of SS Peter and Paul which was founded by Roger de Montgomery, a relative of William the Conqueror in 1083.

During the following 450 or so years it grew to become one of the most important and influential abbeys in the land; the relics of the Welsh Saint Winefride were brought to the Abbey in 1147, and the building became an important centre of pilgrimage.

In 1283 the first English Parliament in which the Commons had a legal share took place in the Abbey Chapter House, and in 1398 Richard II summoned the Great Parliament in the Abbey.
The Abbey was finally surrendered to the Crown in January 1540 and although much was destroyed, the nave has since served as the Church for the Parish of the Holy Cross.

In the nineteenth century a huge programme of restoration took place, but in the event financial constraints compelled the building of only part of the plan and everything to the east of the pulpit and lectern are the work of J L Pearson, dating from 1886. Any thoughts of the Pearson plans being completed were lost in the tensions of the Great War (1914-1918) – vividly portrayed in the poetry of Wilfred Owen whose home was in the Abbey parish and whose name is on the war memorial in the church.

The site of Shrewsbury Abbey is a very ancient one. A wooden Saxon church of St. Peter, possibly a small monastery, was recorded here in the Domeday Survey. St. Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester (from 1062), used to stop there to pray on his journeys between Chester and his own See.

The Benedictine Abbey of today, however, is a post-Conquest foundation, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. It was in 1083 that the priest of St. Peter’s, returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, persuaded Roger de Montgomery, the newly appointed Earl of Shrewsbury, to raise the already existing church into a grand abbey. Roger had two monks brought from his lands in Sées (Normandy) to direct the building arrangements and monastic life was established four years later. Fulchered, the first Abbot, also came from Sées. The founder himself took the vows in his Abbey in 1094, three days before his death.

Though the Abbey flourished, during the early twelfth century, the monks of Shrewsbury apparently felt their monastery incomplete for the lack of the relics of a special patron to honour and bring glory to the name of God – not to mention lucrative offerings from vast hoards of pilgrims. The Prior, Robert Pennant, therefore took it upon himself to find a suitable candidate whose remains he might appropriate for his Abbey Church. With his Abbot’s blessing, he led an expedition into Wales where, in 1138, he acquired the bones of St. Gwenfrewi from the inhabitants of Gwytherin in Gwynedd. Known as St. Winifred to the English, this lady was brought back to Shrewsbury and enshrined, probably behind the high altar, with great ceremony. Her holiness did indeed make the Abbey a major pilgrimage centre, bringing honour and prestige to its Abbots.

The Medieval Abbots of Shrewsbury were some of the most significant ecclesiastics in the Country. They were often drawn into political life because of their great diplomatic and administrative skills. They would be called upon to inspect the local militia and survey the town’s castle; they served as Justices of the Peace and as gaolers for important hostages; and, from the 13th century, they sat in Parliament.

In those days, parliament moved around the country and met at important sites, chosen by the King according to where he happened to be staying. Parliament gathered at Shrewsbury Abbey in 1283, when King Edward I was campaigning against the Welsh. It included the first ever sitting of the House of Commons. The last native Prince of Wales, David II, was brought before the assembled crew who were to decide his fate. The poor man was condemned to death and dragged through the town before being hung, drawn and quartered. A hundred years later, Richard II also used the Abbey for political business, summoning hither the ‘Great Parliament’ of 1398. Only the previous year, the Abbots of Shrewsbury had been given the right to wear the mitre usually reserved for bishops.

Shrewsbury Abbey was known for its many scholars and, in the early fifteenth century, its Abbot, Thomas Prestbury, was even Chancellor of Oxford. He played a prominent part in the events surrounding the rebellion of Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy and his uncle, the Earl of Worcester, against King Henry IV, as recorded by Shakespeare. Feeling poorly rewarded for their active part in the King’s usurpation of the throne, the Percys rose up against the monarch and marched on Shrewsbury. The Abbot met with the rebel leaders and offered them a paerdon in return for withdrawal, but this was refused. The two armies clashed on the Whitchurch Road, just north of the town and the Battle of Shrewsbury (1403) which ensued was one of the most brutal of the Medieval period. Henry IV was victorious, Hotspur was killed and the Earl of Worcester captured and executed in the town.

Seal of St. Winifred's Guild The monarchy continued to take an interest in the Abbey throughout the 15th century, and in 1487, King Henry VII gave issued a licence to Abbot Mynde for the establishment of the Guild of St. Winifred whose members were to offer daily prayers at the lady’s shrine for the good health of the king, the Abbot and the Guild. It lasted only fifty years, but was reinstated by the Abbey authorities in 1987.

As with all English abbeys and priories, monastic life came to an end at Shrewsbury during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries (1540). The Abbey’s annual income, as returned just before its suppression, was £615. The last Abbot, Thomas Botelier, surrendered his church peacefully and was granted a hefty pension as reward his co-operation. The King, at one time, intended to make Shrewsbury the seat of a bishop and to endow the See out of the revenues of the Abbey, the church of which would have been the cathedral. But the Act drafted to this effect was never passed. It would have been the means of preserving some other great churches too, such as Bury St. Edmunds or Reading. Other plans to make the site a school or a residence for Royal guests also failed.

Eventually only the nave of the church was saved. It was given to the parishioners of Holy Cross, while the rest of the buildings were sold to one William Langley. The choir, transepts, high altar and lady chapel were all demolished and a new eat wall erected at the head of the nave. Other monastic buildings survived for some centuries, however, particularly the cloister’s western range and the so called “Old Infirmary” which still stands today, though in a much reduced form. Demolition continued though and, as a parish church in the following centuries, the historic abbey was largely neglected. There were major bills for repairs after the abbey was damaged during the Civil War Siege of Shrewsbury when Charles I’s own chaplain was vicar. It was even used as a prison for the defeated Royalists after the Battle of Worcester (1651). By the early nineteenth century, it had been engulfed by the Railways, though land adjacent to the church was saved from redevelopment by an Act of Parliament establishing The Abbey Cemetery Company in 1839. Interest in the building was finally revived by the new Archaeological Societies of late Victorian England and, in 1885, the Bishop of Lichfield was left £10,000 by Mrs Harriet Juson of Shrewsbury for the construction of a new chancel at the Abbey. Over the next two years, the church was carefully restored, by John Loughbridge Pearson, to the beautiful structure that we see today. And it is a pilgrimage centre once more, made famous throughout the World by Ellis Peters and her literary creation, Brother Cadfael: abbey herbalist and detective extraordinaire.



Sky watch over Wales

The moon rising at  22.00  over the Dolfor hill Newtown.





22.03. on 14 /7/2011


Barclays Quarterly Profit Soars To £2.4bn

Where is my hometown of Newtown Powys,,_Powys#Buildings_and_monuments

Newtown longbridge over the Severn .

last time this bridge was maintained 1999, now the weeds and trees are growing in the stone workjoints

8.7.11 such a miserable day heavy showers are the order of the day today is the opening of the new store in what was the woolworths building since they closed woolworths there has been a carpet shop that did not last long, now we have a much needed clothes shop making it clothes shop no7 , 8 if one counts the new tesco outlet in Newtown.

8.7.11 Store twenty one have opened in Newtown,just what the town needs "another clothes shop"

Wm Jones and sons, the family butcher who has been in the town since 1876, always a good display of locally produced meat. now the the supermarkets are killing off these shops 15 years ago they opened safeways (NOW MORRISONS) on Welshpool Rd within 2 years we saw many food shops close in the town itself some like the cheese shop on market street opened up in the new store as did a fruit and veg shop, then the store relized it was not viable to have local business sell in the store. today we have six super markets in the town, all competing for trade, I can see in a few years there will be no more nice family shops in Newtown all will have been swallowed up by the food giants, and god knows where our produce will be brought in from.

The Buck one of the oldest public houses in the town.

The cross building and Sarah Brisco’s Town Clock,  better known as barclays bank

Barclays bank own the cross building one of the focal points of Newtown if they leave the plants to grow in the facade it will fall down, not like they cannot afford to get builders in to clean and repoint the brick and stonework on this beautiful building, and today 31st of October 2011 We have news thatBarclays Quarterly Profit Soars To £2.4bn


feral pigeons get to drop droppings on the stonework the acid in the droppings corode the stonework.

almost enough grass to mow.

the odd seagull that lives in Newtown uses the bank to deposit on the weather vane.

Cross building from the water reservoir behind my home on Llanidloes rd.,_Powys

St Davids from the reservoir

St David’s Church, Newtown

By 1840 Newtown had become the centre of the  Mid-Wales woollen industry which brought a rapid growth in population.

The rector at that time, Rev. G. Foxton, must have felt a pressing need for a new building, necessitated by a shortage of seating and fre­quent flooding of an old badly sited church.

The site for the new church on what was to become the New Road, was given by Mr. David Pugh of Llanerchyddol, Welshpool, M.P. for Montgomery Boroughs for many years and a prominent landowner.  The foundation stone was laid by the Countess of Powys on 27th October, 1843.  The architect was Thomas Penson (1790-1859) who was County Surveyor of Montgomeryshire from

By 1840 Newtown had become the centre of the  Mid-Wales woollen industry which brought a rapid growth in population.

The rector at that time, Rev. G. Foxton, must have felt a pressing need for a new building, necessitated by a shortage of seating and fre­quent flooding of an old badly sited church.

The site for the new church on what was to become the New Road, was given by Mr. David Pugh of Llanerchyddol, Welshpool, M.P. for Montgomery Boroughs for many years and a prominent landowner.  The foundation stone was laid by the Countess of Powys on 27th October, 1843.  The architect was Thomas Penson (1790-1859) who was County Surveyor of Montgomeryshire from 1818 and of Denbighshire from 1819 in succession to his father also Thomas Penson (1760- 1824).  Penson chose the buff Ruabon bricks to build the church which were manufactured at the Trefynant works of J. C. Edwards.  The style is Victorian Gothic.

The building, which cost about £4,600, consisted of a nave and aisles, a small apse at the East end, and a Western Tower, with entrance on the North side. Gal­leries ran around the three sides, the Western one occupied by the organ.

Four years later, on 13th September, 1847, the Bishop, Dr. T. V. Short, con­secrated the new church – but somewhat unusually without a dedication.  This strange omission was to be the cause of much confusion and discussion in later years.  Many parishioners referred to the building as St. Mary’s, no doubt taking the name from the old building and as recently as 1924 the new incumbent, the Rev. J. E. Morgan was inducted to “St. Mary’s”.  However, in 1940 the matter was formally raised in a P.C.C. meeting.  Eventually after much diligent work, Mr. F. B. Lloyd a church warden, proved that at the laying of the foundation stone, the words used were : “I lay this stone as the foundation of a church to be consecrated to Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in the name of St. David.”

As a result, the Bishop, Dr. W. T. Havard, issued a decree in 1943 stating “that the church was to be known henceforth as the Church of St. David”.

By the early 1870’s the building was being described as “most inconvenient” and structural faults had appeared and as a result a faculty was granted in 1873 for major alterations.  This entailed the removal of the galleries and the construction of a chancel with organ chamber and vestry, the removal of the reredos, which had been erected using the screen from the old church, and the replacement of the old box-pews by oak pews free to all.  A new font and pulpit were also added.

The cost of this renovation was £3,000.  The architect was Mr. David Walker of Liverpool, and the builder, E. Williams of Newtown.

The service of re-dedication took place in August 1874 conducted by the Bishop of Hereford.

Further alterations were made in 1909 when parts of the rood-screen were used to line the sanctuary, then in 1938 came the erection of the Lady Chapel, again parts of the old screen were used, and the re-decoration of the interior.  The architect for this latter operation was H. L. North of Llanfairfechan.

Further major repairs and re-decoration were carried out from 1961-4 at a cost of £10,000.

(extracted from A brief history of the Buildings of the Church in the Parishes of Newtown & Llanlwlchaiarn by H.N. Oliver)

Sadly, because of insurmountable infrastructure problems, the church had to close in June 2006 and the Parish of Newtown merged with the Parish of Llanllwchaiarn.

The church has recently been sold  and is in need of  some restoration work. this like the Cross building and it seems all the older structures are being  taken over by nature IE plants growing out of them.

the rear of the church where the vadals and thieves go unoticed

thieves have taken the copper lightning conductor and the copper earth wire,

cross building St Davids church and the rail station from Brimmon hill

pryce jones building in the background,  is under construction  covered over in building wrap netting.

Pryce Jones’ in Newtown

Born 1834 in Newtown, Pryce Jones took over the drapery business where he was apprenticed in 1856. The business, renamed the Royal Welsh Warehouse, prospered on the trade generated by sending out price lists to prospective customers. In 1890 an illustrated catalogue replaced the price lists, and this was the beginning of catalogue shopping. The firm was taken over by department store firm Lewis’s of Liverpool in 1938, but the warehouse he built in Newtown is still home to several retail businesses.

3 roof trusses is all thats left of the milk bottling plant Lower Canal Road Newtown Powys

no its not cross building its the same species of plant the "ELDER" Sambucus nigra, (caprifoliacae) once its roots get a hold in the masonry joints just like the ivy it eats the mortar and eventually the structure weakens and collapses or as in this case the water got in the joints and the ice in last winters severe weather caused the collapse in the stone work of the bridge.

Newtown Aberbechan bridge could be closed for many months

the collapsed part of the bridge nearest the main A483 road

A NORTH Powys bridge – will be closed to all traffic for safety reasons for a number of months after it was damaged following the recent severe cold weather.

Aberbechan Bridge on the B4389 near Newtown closed on Sunday, January 2 after the council received reports that cracks started to appear.  An assessment of the Grade II listed structure showed that the bridge is in a dangerous condition.

The closure is already causing severe traffic problems in Newtown.

Local traffic diversions have been put into place and barriers have been placed both  ends  to stop all vehicles and pedestrians from crossing the bridge.

A spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “The council decided to take emergency action to close the bridge because the recent severe cold weather had made the structure dangerous to travel over.

“By closing the bridge we hope to prevent further damage occurring to the bridge.

“A full assessment of the structure’s condition will be carried out by the council.  This will then determine how the council will repair the damage to the bridge.

“It is too early to say when the bridge will re-open and how much it will cost to repair the damage.  However, as it is a listed structure over a river, we will need to consult the Environment Agency and Cadw on any works that are required.

“At this stage, the bridge will be closed for a number of months.”

lot of damage to the stone work of the bridge besides the already colopsed end, there does not seem to be any damage to the brickwork of the arches.