Amy Moore reviews a recent familiarisation trip to the town, which features an eclectic mix of old and new attractions suitable for groups.

SHREWSBURY MARKET HALL::ORIGINAL SHREWSBURY

Old Market Hall was originally used as a corn market. SHROPSHIRE & TELFORD

Shrewsbury sees an abundance of classical buildings dominate its traditional market square, which thrives with a generous amount of independent shops and boutiques. Its Old Market Hall was built in 1595-1596 and stands at the base of Shrewsbury’s iconic clock tower.

Its attractive, flagstone floors were originally used as a corn market, with the upper floor used to trade the wool imported from Wales. At the modern Market Hall, lift access is available to both floors, with the site still home to authentic market fare every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Formerly owned by a local woollen cloth merchant, Owen’s Mansion stands prominent on the High Street. Owen’s Mansion was built by Richard Owen in 1592.

Most characteristic are the petit wooden models perched on the top arches of the roof to commemorate its ancient inhabitants. The River Severn loops around this quaint little town, creating what was once a medieval fortress. Our group enjoyed an informative tour from the tall town crier, Martin Wood, on October 25. Landmarks included the film locations of A Christmas Carol (1984)

SHREWSBURY MUSEUM & ART GALLERY

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has inhabited the town’s former Music Hall since April 2014, located amidst a medieval townhouse dating back to the 1200s.

SHREWSBURY WELSH BRIDGE::ORIGINAL SHREWSBURY

The Welsh Bridge straddles the River Severn, with five arches to represent the five letters. SHROPSHIRE & TELFORD

Guests treading ground will get a taste of different eras, with Victorian public rooms also on the premises. The Music Hall dates back to 1840, with additional rooms available for private hire.

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday between 1000hrs and 1630hrs, offering discounted admission for groups at £3.50 per person. Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery houses a variety of exhibits that document the regions rich heritage, with contributions from contemporary artists. There are 300,000 items in total, showcasing advancements in archaeology, biology and decorative arts. School groups are welcome, with a number of family friendly activities available. Upcoming exhibitions include Secret Egypt – Unravelling Truth From Myth, which is scheduled to run from January 24 to April 26, 2015. Coach parties are advised to pick up/drop off opposite St Chad’s Church. For more information visit www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk

SHREWSBURY CASTLE & SHROPSHIRE REGIMENTAL MUSEUM

SHREWSBURY CASTLE::ORIGINAL SHREWSBURY

Shrewsbury Castle is home to the Shropshire Regimental Museum. SHROPSHIRE & TELFORD

Shrewsbury Castle is home to the Shropshire Regimental Museum. GTW would describe the muddy, red brick exterior of Shrewsbury Castle as somewhat isolated from the town. The magnificent structure dates back to the Norman times, with a great wall erected to secure the border with Wales. Offering a more unique flavour, Shrewsbury Castle was once the property of Elizabeth I. It now remains under the watchful eye of Shropshire County Council. Shropshire Regimental Museum offers a minimal £3 entry, and houses a vast collection from the Shropshire Yeomanry, amongst others. School visits, talks and teachers’ packs are available, and private functions can be held in the castle grounds. Providing a beautiful backdrop, GTW was lucky enough to witness a wedding ceremony on the premises. To book call 01743 358516 or for more information visit www.shropshireregimentalmuseum.co.uk

ATTINGHAM PARK

Attingham Park is a spacious estate built in 1785 for the 1st Lord Berwick. Set within an endearing deer park, the National Trust now manages the site, with regular feeding times every weekend at 1400hrs. Attingham Park is extremely family friendly, with specialised entry rates available.

8,000acres of pretty parkland extends four miles up to Shrewsbury, with 4,000acres currently managed. Attingham Hall is an 18th century mansion that occupies the grounds, neatly etched by the River Tern. The Walled Garden grows a healthy range of fresh produce throughout the year, served in the Carriage House Café, including warm vegetable soup in winter. The Walled Garden was initially created to supply the estate, and currently demonstrates five years of extensive restoration work. Attingham Park is accessible for most of the year. Winter tours of the Mansion are scheduled to run from Friday to Sunday – to pre book call 01743 708170.

Group discounts and seasonal guided tours are available, with prices ranging from £9.40 for whole property access to £5.00 for limited park and Walled Garden access. For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park

SABRINA BOAT TOURS

Between March and October, Sabrina Boat Tours runs daily cruises every hour from 1100hrs to 1600hrs. A single journey lasts approximately 45 minutes, with full commentary provided and light refreshments served onboard. GTW enjoyed a complementary boat ride along the River Severn, travelling under the Welsh Bridge, with five arches to represent the five letters.

SABRINA BOAT TOURS::ORIGINAL SHREWSBURY

Sabrina Boat Tours run daily cruises every hour between March and October. SHROPSHIRE & TELFORD

The Theatre Severn can be viewed from this point. The contemporary-style concert venue was erected in 2009. GTW enjoyed an informative and chirpy tour from skipper, Ian Green. Sabrina is named after the Goddess of the River Severn, which derives from the mythical story of a nymph who supposedly drowned in its muggy waters. Sabrina is a three-deck passenger boat, which can comfortably accommodate up to 60 passengers. Groups of 20+ could receive an exclusive rate of £6 per person when booked in advance, with the GTO/coach driver going free.

Lunch deals at local restaurants can also be arranged. To book contact Mark Hooper on 01743 369741. For more information visit www.sabrinaboat.co.uk

SHREWSBURY FLOWER SHOW

August 14-15, 2015

Shrewsbury Flower Show is an annual, coach friendly event organised in association with the Shropshire Horticultural Society, which was established in 1875. Shrewsbury Flower Show is run by a handful of permanent staff and over 100 passionate volunteers. Past acts include show jumping, a creative craft marquee and a deluxe food hall. The Quarry Marquee showcases work by 50 talented horticulturalists, with the outside show gardens following a different theme each year. For every 10 tickets booked, visitors will get the 11th ticket free. Coaches can drop off at the showground entrance, with free admission and refreshment vouchers awarded to the coach driver upon arrival. Please note that drop off permits must be obtained in advance. For more information call 01743 234050 or visit www.shrewsburyflowershow.org.uk

Shrewsbury Champions Britain in Bloom

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) named Shrewsbury the Champion of Champions at the Britain in Bloom Awards, held in Bristol in October. RHS were impressed by the high standard of horticulture demonstrated, especially at the Bowbrook Allotment Community Site, which is run by a handful of volunteers who contributed more than 2,000 hours to its upkeep.

Flower Show 016

Shrewsbury Flower Show.

The Bowbrook Allotment Community Site saw the installation of 85 organic growing plots and a series of nature trails, with individual gardens created to encourage further conservation.

The hometown of Percy Thrower and the birthplace of Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury also won a Tourism Award for demonstrating an effective use of bloom initiatives to encourage and support tourism to the area. Sue Biggs, Director General at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “Like Shrewsbury, the Bloom finalists represent how best to use public green space for the benefit of people, plants and the planet. There are almost four thousand RHS community gardening groups around Britain, all of whom are making a joyous difference in their area.” Run by the RHS since 2002, Britain in Bloom celebrated its 50th consecutive year, with a successful event hosted by leading garden designer, Adam Frost. Britain in Bloom aims to attract visitors to the country through attractive floral displays, with a continuous campaign widened to include environmental responsibility and community participation. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk/britaininbloom

Great For Groups

Coach parking is free, with 13 bays at Abbey Foregate and five bays available at Frankwell. Drop off/pick up points are located on Victoria Avenue. Guided walking tours can be arranged via Shrewsbury Visitor Centre, with a typical tour lasting 90 minutes. Each guide can accommodate up to 20 people at one time, with themed tours available. Alternatively, a self guided Historic Church Trail is ideal for exploring three particular sites of interest; St Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury Abbey and St Mary’s Church. For more information visit www.shrewsburyforgroups.com

USEFUL CONTACT

SHREWSBURY VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE

T: 01743 258888 E: visitorinfo@shropshire.gov.uk W: www.originalshrewsbury.co.uk