Historic Landmarks in Bridgnorth
There are many Historic Landmarks in Bridgnorth that can all be visited in a day due to their close proximity.
The River Severn splits Bridgnorth into High Town and Low Town and and they are linked by numerous historic steps, the famous cliff railway and Cartway.
The Castle ruins is located in the beautiful Castle gardens where you can sit and relax .
The Town Hall
Situated on Bridgnorth’s High Street is the half-timbered Town Hall, built in 1652 and resting on an arcaded brick base.
The Town Hall is one of many timber framed buildings built just after the war.
Completed in 1652 the sandstone arched base has since been faced in brick and the building was extensively altered in 1887.
The building was used for cultural events: an audience attended a “grand miscellaneous concert” there in 1789.
It was refurbished and stained glass windows were installed to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.
The stained glass windows depicted all the kings and queens who had granted charters to the town from 1157 to 1830.
The town hall continued to act as the local civic meeting place until the local board of health commissioned the new market hall in Postern Gate in 1859.
The Postern Gate building was disliked by market traders and despite the local board of health taking legal action against traders to try and force the use of the building, the development was not a commercial success and it was sold off in the early 20th century.
Bridgnorth Cliff Railway
Linking the Low Town on the Severn with the High Town and castle, the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway is believed to hold a few records.
This is the oldest, shortest and steepest electric funicular railway in the country, shuttling up and down the vertiginous sandstone cliffs.
The gradient has a maximum steepness of 64%, while the line is little more than 60 metres long.
It dates back to 1891 and since that time has been operated by the same company, The Bridgnorth Castle Railway Company.
The funicular’s cars are on parallel lines and counterbalance each other via a steel rope.
Initially they were powered by a water balance system, but an electric winding engine was installed in 1943-44, while the current car design is form 1955.
This gate is the only one of five in the town’s original fortifications remaining and most of it has been rebuilt.
There is a museum in the large room over the arches.
Adjacent buildings date from the 17th century with modifications of a later date.
The Museum is full of treasures and should be the first stop for anyone wanting to discover the history of the town and local area.
From an Edwardian till, to a model of Trevithick’s Steam Engine, the museum’s collection will interest the whole family, both young and old..
St Mary’s Church
Completed in 1795, this Renaissance Revival church was designed by Thomas Telford, a Scottish architect and civil engineer.
His contribution to Shropshire’s early industrial infrastructure was so great that a whole new town was named after him in 1968 (Telford).
The current St Mary’s was constructed over a Medieval church and is a Grade II* monument.
At an elevation of 35 metres, the copper-clad cupola stands out for miles and towers above a portico raised on Doric columns.
Bishop Percy’s House
Bishop Percys House originally known as ‘Forsters Folly’ is a historic building located at 52 Cartway Bridgnorth.
It was built in 1580 by Richard Forster and is a grade 1 listed property and was one of the few properties to survive the great fire of Bridgnorth in 1646.
It was the birthplace of Thomas Percy, the Bishop of Dromore and author of ‘Reliques of Ancient English Poetry’
The site has history stemming back to medieval times and the building itself is built around a medieval defensive tower.
The property has been mainly used as commercial premises throughout its life including home to Bridgnorth Boys Club from 1940’s to 2003.
It has remained empty since that date. There are now plans in place to open it to the public as a tea room and holiday appartments.
Theatre on the steps
Halfway up Stoneway Steps,with their cast iron kerbs, is the former 18th century Congregational Chapel.
In about 1960 the Congregational Church situated on Stoneway Steps came onto the market as a result of the merger of its members and those of the Methodist Church which is on Cartway.
They became known as the United Reformed Church.
It now houses an amateur theatre company and hosts visiting professional touring companies.
Tickets available from Visitor Information Centre.
The remains of Bridgnorth Castle stand within the Victorian public garden (Castle gardens) atop high cliffs in Bridnorth’s High Town.
The site of a pre-Norman conquest castle rebuilt by Robert de Belesme between 1098 and 1101.
All that remains of the once vast Norman castle is part of the keep tower which leans at an angle
of about 15 degrees resulting from attempted demolition after the Civil War.
The castle grounds offer fine views of the River Severn and the railway.
Sabrina Goddess of the River Severn
According to Celtic mythology, Sabrina is the water nymph who inhabits the River Severn . Llanidloes.
Sabrina is the Celtic Goddess of the River Severn, which flows from its source in Wales through England emptying into the Bristol Channel and then on into the Celtic Sea.
The River is named for Sabrina, whose original Welsh name was Havren or Habren; Sabrina is deemed the Romanised version.
It is thought that her name among the Britons was Habrenna, whilst to the Welsh she was Hafren. It was the Romans that gave her the name, Sabrina; and it is Sabrina that came to be known as the goddess of the River Severn.
You can find her statue in the Castle Gardens.
Excavations in 1989 revealed extensive remains of an impressive Franciscan Friary constructed in the 13th century.
The scale of the masonry and quality of tiles and glass found, indicate that Bridgnorth was of strategic importance.
A bridging point controlling Severn Trade, was of economic importance in the medieval period.
Very little is known of the history of Bridgnorth Franciscan Friary.
It is estimated to have been founded between 1224-1244.
There is no reliable record of the name of the founder, and indeed there may not have been a founder in the formal sense, although the friars later claimed it to be Ralph le Strange.
During the 17th century, the Severn was the second busiest river in Europe, providing links to Bristol and the rest of the world.
The quayside was a bustling area with river boats loading and unloading alongside large warehouses which stretched along the riverside.
During the Civil War the Royalists were forced to retreat to Bridgnorth Castle after a severe battle.
The Parliamentary forces laid siege for weeks and Colonel Lavington was in charge of digging a tunnel under Castle Hill with the intention of blowing up St. Mary’s Church which housed the munitions.
The Royalists surrendered before the tunnel was completed.
When Richard de Belleme established the borough of Bridgnorth 1101, he built (or rebuilt) the bridge here.
This medieval bridge incorporated a chapel located over the second arch, dedicated to St Sythe (Osyth).
There was also a gatehouse guarding the crossing, probably consisting of an archway with rooms above it, located on the east (Low Town) side.
This was later used as a prison until it was torn down in 1801 because it obstructed traffic flow.
The bridge was rebuilt in 1823 to the design of Thomas Telford.
On the clock tower is an inscription commemorating the building of the first locomotive in 1808 at John Hazeldine’s foundry.
The first footbridge was built by Bridgnorth Borough Council in 1895.
After the railway closed, it became unsafe, and in 1976 was demolished amid protests.
The new footbridge was opened in 1994.
It provides wonderful views and links the High Town with the Severn Valley Railway Station.
Severn Valley Railway
The Severn Valley Railway is a heritage railway in Shropshire and Worcestershire, England.
The 16-mile (26 km) heritage line runs along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, following the course of the River Severn for much of its route, and crossing the river on the historic Victoria Bridge.
Bridgnorth Station is now the northern end of the privately run steam railway which operates regular services to Bewdley and Kidderminster.
The line used to run through a tunnel under High Town and proceed through Ironbridge to Shrewsbury.
Beyond the station is Pampudding Hill which
may have been an Iron Age hillfort, and was the vantage point where Cromwell stationed his cannons.
St Leonard’s Church
Originally a Norman church, St Leonard’s was commandeered as Civil War ammunition store, and was blown it up in 1646.
Rebuilding started in 1662, and extensive restoration took place in the mid-19th century.
The proud red Gothic tower of St Leonard’s dominates Bridgnorth’s skyline.
Surrounding it is an oval of charming houses, almost like a cathedral close.
Inside, the church has the airy vastness of a cathedral – the size is breathtaking.