There was a Bridge here as early as the 10th Century. The later Bridge housed several buildings including a Church and a Portcullis which acted as the local gaol. The great Bridge we see today was re-built in 1823 to the design of Thomas Telford.
Originally there were five fortified gates in Bridgnorth, the North Gate is the only one to survive. It houses a fantastic little museum which is positively brimming with artefacts and interesting archeological finds from the surrounding area. Admission is free.
The Stoneway steps provide a passageway between the High Town and Low Town. The picturesque steps have been carved into the sandstone cliff and come complete with cast iron kerbs. Halfway down the steps you will find the aptly named 'Theatre on the Steps'. This is the former 18th century Congregational Chapel which now houses an amateur theatre company and hosts visiting professional touring companies.
Tickets for shows can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre or by ringing the box office, check the website below for up to date details.
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.
Nowadays you can view the exterior of Lavington's Hole from the outside, there is no access due to safety reasons. There are also a number of other small caves to see, these have been carved into the soft sandstone rock over the years.
There was once a Pre-Norman conquest Castle on this site which was rebuilt by Robert de Belesme between1098 and 1101. The remains of Bridgnorth Castle are set on a cliff by the side of the River Severn. Today the castle is little more than a ruin, comprising of a 70 foot tall, 12th century Norman tower and some other small stonework built in the time of Henry II.
The tower leans at an alarming angle of 15 degrees, three times greater than that of the leaning tower of Pisa. This is due to an attempt to blow it up during the Civil War.
The Castle remains are surrounded by some fantastic gardens complete with a bandstand, ornamental floral display and a viewpoint overlooking the severn railway station.
The Cliff Railway in Bridgnorth is famed for being the only inland Cliff Railway still working in Britain. It was created as a result of a public meeting called in 1890 to discuss an easier way (other than the 200 steps) to travel between High and low town. It was opened in 1892, is 201 ft long and has a vertical rise of 111ft an incline of 33 degrees which is the steepest cliff railway in England. It originally operated on a water balance system but was converted in 1943-4 to electrically driven colliery type winding gear.
Tickets = £1 return.
Opening times vary depending on the time of year, check the website for details.
The Town Hall is a great timber framed building situated right in the middle of High Street. The Civil war caused extensive damage in Bridgnorth, the Town hall is one of many timber framed buildings built just after the war. It was completed in 1651 although it was extensively altered in 1887.The building was constructed in 1652 from a redundant tithe barn donated by a Lady Bertie from the town of Much Wenlock.
The Town Hall is open to the public at certain times where you can visit the council chambers. A Victorian coat of arms can be seen both inside and outside on the ends of the building. It has unusual stain-glass windows depicting English monarchs and the only remaining 'made-in-Bridgnorth' carpet known to be on public display - a five colour Wilton with 27 joins made in 1887.
Underneath the Town Hall, in the market space, you will see an excellent time line on the wall, charting Bridgnorth’s history from 895 with the Vikings through to the late 1990's. It depicts all the ups and downs in the town’s history including the Black Death, the Civil War, fire, cholera, the beginning and end of the Bridgnorth port, the building and restoration of the Town Hall.
Have a little taste of Shropshire at this charming new farm shop come deli. Situated on the Much Wenlock road just on the outskirts of Bridgnorth, the Green Cow specialises in local and Shropshire produce ranging from local beers and wines through milk & vegetables to cheeses and meats. One of the best things about this place is you can “try before you buy” a lot of their products by eating them in the lovely café which also dish’s up all sorts of local items in snacks or meals. The other great thing about this place is compared to most places in Bridgnorth it has free and easy parking!
Every year on the late May bank holiday (Whitsun) Bridgnorth hosts its annual walk. If you are a keen walker this is for you. The walk starts in the high street and goes out to the top of Brown Clee hill some 11 miles away and then returns via a different route to finish in the high street. The route is 22 miles and there are a maximum of 1200 people allowed to enter.
You must raise sponsorship for a registered charity and show that you have collected the money and paid it to the charity of your choice.
There is also a junior walk that goes for 7 miles and is open to 300 youngsters aged 10 to 13.
Over the years the walk has raised over £1,000,000 for charity and I'm proud to say I finished third one year, not in the walk but in the fund raising, and was presented with a trophey by the town mayor.
If you want to do it get your entry in early.
Follow the web link below for more details.
People come from all over the country to visit the SVR - one of the longest steam railways in Britain. The platform is a hive of activity throughout the summer months. There is also a pub on the station that happens to be my local and I enjoy sitting on the platform with a pint of Guinness watching the steam trains on a summer evening.
At certain times they also run "specials" like a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend and a Santa Special. The railway is run by enthusiastic volunteers and benefactors so all the revenue from tourism is greatly received. After all, its the one thing that puts Bridgnorth on the map.
About 3 miles west of Bridgnorth on the Much Wenlock road is the tiny village of Morville. It is worth pulling over and visiting the church though and admiring the 15th century private residence of Morville Hall directly opposite the church.
The church dates from Norman times but there was a Saxon church here prior to that. The church is set in a field usually full of sheep and looks like an idyllic English country setting.
Morville Hall was built in the 15th century but expanded in the 18th century and is a fine example of a rural country house.
Just across the road is a pub that serve food and drink.
Just 4 miles south of Bridgnorth on the road to Kidderminster is the hall and estate of Dudmaston. A 17th century mansion that was once the home of Abraham Darby who is one of the founders of the industrial revolution that took place in nearby Ironbridge.
The estate is now owned by the National Trust and is open from April to September.
Inside there are many paintings and objets d'art including sculptures by Henry Moore.
The gardens are extensive and there is also a large pond.
Being a National Trust property there is an entrance fee (£5,80) for adults as at August 2009.
It looks a lot better than my old photo too!
Severn Park is a large park in the Low Town area that is very popular during the summer months especially with day trippers. There is a large car park (with a charge) and plenty of room to spread out and let the kids kick a ball around or walk your dog.
There is a path that follows the riverbank and leads to the Low Town Bridge where there are shops, pubs and the funicular railway connecting hign town.
Also at weekends throughout the summer there are organised events such as a visiting fair, a regatta, steam engine rally and so on.
The riverside is very popular with tourists and day trippers during the summer. They are not so extensive and can be walked easily. The best sections are the paths that extend from Severn Park to the Low Town Bridge and the area directly opposite where there is a pleasant quay to sit and enjoy the river.
Bridgnorth is really a town of two halfs. High town up on the cliff and low town down by the river. Because of this somewhat disjointed position Bridgnorth has a lot of passageways and steps linking the two halfs of the town.
If you like walking and enjoy keeping fit then walking the steps of Bridgnorth is better than an hour long workout at the gym.
To my knowledge there are at least seven sets of steps that connect the two halfs of town, the steepest being the Cannon Steps at over 180 from top to bottom.
If you don't feel like taking the climb then you can always pay and take the funicular railway.