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High Town, Bridgnorth.jpg
High Town from the Severn
Grid reference: SO716927
Location: 52°32’2"N, 2°25’4"W
Population: 12,216
Post town: Bridgnorth
Postcode: WV15, WV16
Dialling code: 01746
Local Government
Council: Shropshire

Bridgnorth is a town in Shropshire. It stands on a dramatic hilltop with a commaning view over the River Severn, at the peak of which stands its castle, now in ruins. Bridgnorth is split into Low Town and High Town, of which the High town is that on the hill and Low Town at its foot and across the bridge on the river. The population of the town as a whole was 11,891 at the 2001 census.


Bridgnorth is named as Cwatbrycg in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 895,[1] a place fortified by the Danes, and in 912 as Bricg it was seized and fortified against them by Aethelflaed of the Mercians.[2] Some historians have sought to place Cwatbrycg downstream at Quatford, so that "Bridgnorth" would be the bridge to the north of it, but Bridgnorth alone stands on a natural fortification, and there is no evidence of anything but a ford at Quatford.

After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror granted the manor of Bridgnorth to Roger Roger de Montgomerie. The town itself was not created until 1101, when Robert de Belesme, the son of Roger de Montgomerie, moved from Quatford, constructing a castle and church on the site of the modern-day town. The castle's purpose was to defend against attacks from the Welsh princes. On Robert's attainder, in 1102 the town became a royal borough. Bridgnorth's town walls were initially constructed in timber between 1216 and 1223; murage grants allowed them to be upgraded to stone between the 13th and 15th centuries.[3] By the 16th century, the antiquarian John Leland (antiquarian)|John Leland reported them in ruins and of the five gates, only one survives today.[4]

It is probable that Henry I granted the burgesses certain privileges, for Henry II confirmed to them all the franchises and customs which they had in the time of Henry I.[5] King John of England|John in 1215 granted them freedom from toll throughout England except the city of London, and in 1227 Henry III conferred several new rights and liberties, among which were a Guild|gild merchant with a hanse. These early charters were confirmed by several succeeding kings, Henry VI granting in addition Assize of Bread and Ale and other privileges. The burgesses returned two members to parliament in 1295,[6] and continued to do so until 1867, when they were assigned only one member. The burgesses were additionally granted two fairs: a yearly fair on the Feast of the Translation of St Leonard and three following days was granted in 1359.

In 1630, Charles I granted them licence to hold another fair on the Thursday before the first week in Lent and two following days. The town returned two members to the House of Commons until disfranchised at the reform in 1885.

During the Civil War, Bridgnorth was held for the King@. At the end of the war, Parliament ordered tha the Castle be slighted (that its defences be demolished) so that it could not be used again.

In 1961 the RAF initial recruit training unit was at Bridgnorth.

Sights of the town

The ruins of Bridgnorth Castle
View from High Town over the River Severn
Bridgnorth's Castle Hill Railway

The ruins of Bridgnorth Castle, built in 1101, stand at the peak of the hil overlooking the Severn Valley all around. Having been slighted after the Civil War, the castle walls that remain lean at 15°.[7]

High Town is dominated by two churches. St Mary Magdalene was built in the classic style of the late 18th century, designed by Thomas Telford;[8] and is still used for worship. St Leonard's was formerly collegiate, and Bridgnorth was a Royal Peculiar until 1856. It was subsequently largely rebuilt[9] but is no longer used for regular worship. It has many community uses and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Bishop Percy's House on the Cartway was built in 1580 by Richard Forster and has been a Grade I listed building since 18 July 1949. It was one of the few properties of its type to survive the great fire of Bridgnorth in April 1646, and was the birthplace of Thomas Percy, the Bishop of Dromore and author of 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry'.[10]

The High Town and Low town are linked by a funicular railway, the Castle Hill Railway, which is the steepest and only inland railway of its type in the country.[11]

Seventeenth century buildings in High Town include Bridgnorth Town Hall, a half-timbered building and a surviving town gate the Northgate which houses the Museum.

Daniel's Mill, a well known watermill is situated a short distance along the River Severn from Bridgnorth.


There is a theatre, the Theatre On The Steps, and a 1930s cinema (still in use), the Majestic, originally having one screen, but now three.

There is a museum, the Northgate Museum, with many artifacts connected with the town and surrounding area and is the first independent museum in Shropshire to be awarded Accreditation by the MLA [1]. The town has a number of bars and restaurants and, beyond these, there are 27 pubs, most of which traditional, which makes the town attractive to many tourists, such as the Railwayman's Arms, Golden Lion, New Inn, King's Head and Stable Bar, Bear, Shakespeare and Bell & Talbot.

Outside links


  1. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  (895 Chronicle) (Parker)
  2. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  (912 Chronicle) (Abingdon B) Her com Æþelflæd Myrcna hlæfdige on þone halgan æfen Inuentione Sancte Crucis to Scergeate 7 þær ða burh getimbrede, 7 þæs ilcan geares þa æt Bricge (Mercian Register)
  3. "Fragment of Town Walls (listed section), rear of 93 Cartway (E and N side), SMRNO00374". Discovering Shrophshire's History. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  4. "Bridgnorth Town Defences". Gatehouse. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  5. "BRIDGNORTH, Shropshire - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868". GENUKI. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  6. "Parliamentary Constituencies in the unreformed House". Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  7. "Bridgnorth Castle". Visit Britain. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  8. "St Mary Magdalene, Bridgnorth". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  9. Newman, John; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2006). Shropshire. Yale University Press. pp. 161. ISBN 0300120834. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  10. "Bishop Percys House, bridgnorth". Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  11. "Bridgnorth Town Guide". BBC Shropshire. Retrieved 2008-05-14.