In recent years we’ve moved from having a long summer holiday to taking several, shorter breaks. So a week to the day of getting back from our holiday in Whitby, we set off to spend some time in the Shropshire Hills.
We’d booked a few days in an apartment in Arden House, an Arts and Crafts style house in the small Shropshire town of Church Stretton, nesting at the bottom of Carding Mill Valley. The house had been built in 1903 by William Blower a local business man who was also Mayor of Shrewsbury. The building had been very tastefully converted with 3 apartments available to rent on the upper floors with the owners, Ian and Julie, living in the rest of the house. They had maintained the character and original features of the house while the apartments were modern and comfortable. We stayed in the Mackintosh suite which had original windows, three of them with stone window frames and some of them had original stained glass.
A very relaxing and comfortable stay.
Church Stretton is 12 miles south of Shrewsbury, the capital of Shropshire, on the A49. People have lived here for a long time. There were Iron Age hill forts on nearby hills and the Roman road, Watling Street, ran through the town – although there wasn’t a Roman settlement here. The town grew up in Saxon and Medieval times along with the nearby settlements of Little Stretton, and All Stretton. It became popular as a spa resort in the 19th Century and with the coming of the railway became a popular holiday destination during the late Victorian and Edwardian period, adopting the nickname of “Little Switzerland” as the landscape was said to resemble the said Alpine country.
There used to be some wool textile production based around Carding Mill Valley, but being too far away for the main industrial areas in the North, this died out in the 19th Century.
Today it’s a small market town with some industry but with tourism probably it’s main source of income. Despite it’s size it has all the basic facilities and shops. Other than the mid-size Co-op supermarket it was notable that all the other shops were independent. No chains. All the coffee shops were independent too – not a Starbucks to be seen!
Most of the buildings in the town centre were quite old – some medieval
and, particularly moving out of the centre, some for the Victorian and Edwardian periods.