Whitchurch Travel Guide

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    High Street
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Whitchurch Things to Do

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    St Alkmund's

    by leics Updated Apr 12, 2015

    This version of St Alkmund's, the church which stands at the top of High Street, dates from 1712 but there has been a recorded church on the site since 1089 and it is accepted that the church was founded in 912.

    The church which gave the town its name....the one built in white stone...was almost certainly the one built in Norman times (the Normans invaded in 1066). In 1711 the tower of that church collapsed and pretty much destroyed the building, so it had to be fully demolished and a new church built.

    The church is in Neoclassical style, with Tuscan columns separating the side-aisles from the nave and a gallery at its western end. It's light and airy and not really 'my' sort of church at all...far too 'modern' (!) but, nevertheless, it is a pleasing place and worth a look.

    The really interesting part, for me, is the story of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. See this tip.

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    John Talbot's bones.....

    by leics Written Apr 11, 2015

    Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, was what we might now call a 'career soldier', and a pretty successful one. It was his service to King Henry Vl which led to his being created (originally) Earl of Shropshire though somehow, over the centuries, that title ended up as being Earl of Shrewsbury.

    His lasting reputation as a brave and heroic soldier....'the scourge of France'.... led to him appearing as a character in Shakespeare's 'Henry VI, Part l'.

    In 1453 Talbot was killed at the Battle of Castillon, in French Aquitaine. His embalmed heart was brought back and buried underneath the entrance to St Alkmund's in Whitchurch (the original Norman version of the church, not the one which stands today). His bones folowed fifty years later.

    The effigy from his original tomb was rescued when the Norman church collapsed in 1711 and the original canopy of the tomb was restored in 1874 (the electric switch was obviously added much later!) During the restoration it was discovered that the bones were not in a coffin but an oblong box, each bone individually wrapped. I suppose it made it easier to transport them from his French grave.

    You'll find Talbot's tomb in the Lady Chapel, on the right of the church as you face the altar.

    The alabaster effigy on the left of the church is the tomb of another, later John Talbot, a descendant of that first earl and rector of Whitchurch in the 1540s.

    1st Earl Memorial stone in church porch Ist Earl Sir John Talbot, ex-rector
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    Spot the older buildings and find the...

    by leics Written Apr 11, 2015

    Whitchurch has quite a few old timber-framed buildings dotted around its town centre.

    Watergate Street is a good spot. The street got its name from the stream of water which originally ran across it from the mill-pond to the mill on the other side.

    The Old Eagles public house at number 13 is (partly) a 14th century (1300s) townhouse. The Bull's Head pub probably dates from the 1500s and has been registered as a pub since 1827 (it may well have been an inn or ale-house before that). There are several other buildings on Watergate which date from the 1500s and 1600s.

    The High Street, which follows the line of the important Roman road of Watling Street, has some timber-framed buildings too, although most of these are late 1600s onwards rather than earlier. The White Bear may look very old, especially set back in its little courtyard, but it probably only dates from the early 1700s.

    The milestone is about halfway up the High Street hill. Made of red sandstone and stating 'From Chester 20 miles', it's set on the pavement right up against the frontage of the Red Lion hotel.

    Rear of Bull's Head Milestone White Bear, High Street High Street Watergate Street
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    • Historical Travel

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