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Oswestry History

Walking up Oswestry Hill fortBe Enthralled By The Past...Be Enchanted By The Present

This borderland area is steeped in history, myth and legend. Today the influence of Wales still continues and you'll hear a blend of languages as you browse around.

Natural treasures can be found everywhere. Indeed the Llanrhaeadr Waterfall (Pistyll Rhaeadr), one of the seven wonders of Wales can be found just across the border (the other six are just down the road). It's the highest waterfall in England and Wales.

St Winifred's Well
"One of the most moving of the holy wells in England"

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

You can also explore Offa's Dyke on one side of town or Watt's Dyke on the other, or you can follow the Celtic saints Oswald, Winifred and Melangell. Modern pilgrims to Oswestry can steal a glance at the the unique timber framed church at Melverley.

Oswestry has wells and springs which are said to have powers to heal the believer. They may even inspire the more cynical.

Ancient signs are everywhere. The Old Oswestry Hillfort, known as Caer Ogyrfan after King Arthur's father-in-law, is said to be the birthplace of Queen Guinevere.

Thomas Telford also left his mark when he built the Llangollen Canal. His aqueducts at Chirk and Froncysyllte stand 70 feet and 126 feet high respectively as they span over the river valley. They're definitely not for the faint hearted whether on foot or on a narrowboat.

Oswestry Visitor & Exhibition Centre

Nearby Chirk Castle has magnificent staterooms and shows the benefits of castle living, just as long as you're on the right floor. The less fortunate has a far from comfortable existence in Chirk's miserable and infamous dungeons. Two other National Trust properties that are well worth a visit are Erddig Hall and Powis Castle, with its dramatic gardens and the Clive of India treasures.

Rich in history Oswestry may be but it's still a vibrant and vital market town with an eclectic collection of small speciality shops and one of the liveliest street markets in the borderlands, still attracting bargain hunters since it was established in the Middle Ages.

The meeting of English and Welsh cultures has sparked a certain creativity in the local arts and crafts. You'll find Anglo-Welsh designs in our local shops and craft centres.

"...my subject is war and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity."
Wilfred Owen - A Shropshire poet.

Oswestry is the home of poets, musicians, eccentrics, heroes and villains including the highly acclaimed Wilfred Owen, arguably the best of the English First World War poets, who was born here in 1893.

The Reverend Spooner of Spoonerism fame, was "heducated 'ere" at the local Grammar school (founded in 1407). The school, is now a Visitor & Exhibition Centre where you can pick up the town trail and find out lots more information about Oswestry.

Oswestry Town Centre

You may also have heard of the exploits of Mad Jack Mytton who once rode a bear on his dining table. His cure for hiccups was to set fire to his shirt. Reports are unclear as to how effective this was.

While you're here, you might like to pay a visit to the village of Whittington, reputedly home of Dick Whittington, who went on to find fortune and fame in some place called London. And Babbinswood (Babes in the Wood) inspired another pantomime. The picturesque castle at Whittington was once the home of Fulk Fitz warine who, in the days of Bad King John became Shropshire's own Robin Hood.

A similar claim can be made of Highwayman Humphrey Kynaston whose hideout was a cave at Nessclife. Even our outlaws where gentlemen - must be the influence of Shropshire.

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