OSWESTRY (/ˈɒzwəstri/ ; Welsh : Croesoswallt) is a large market
town and civil parish in
Shropshire , England, close to the Welsh
border . It is at the junction of the A5 , A483 and A495 roads. It is
one of the UK's oldest border settlements.
The town was the administrative headquarters of the Borough of
Oswestry until that was abolished under local government
reorganisation with effect from 1 April 2009.
Oswestry is the
third-largest town in Shropshire, following
The 2011 Census recorded the population of the civil parish as 17,105
(up almost 10% from 15,613 in 2001) and the urban area as 16,660. The
town is five miles (8 km) from the Welsh border, and has a mixed Welsh
and English heritage. It is the home of the
Shropshire libraries '
Oswestry is the largest settlement within the
Oswestry Uplands , a
designated natural area and national character area .
* 1 History
* 1.1 Prehistory
* 1.2 Saxon times
* 1.3 The Conquest
* 1.4 Border town
* 1.5 Market town
* 1.6 Military
* 2 Landmarks
* 3 Culture
* 3.1 Drama and film
* 3.2 Music
* 3.3 Literature
* 3.4 Visual arts
* 3.5 Festivals
* 3.6 Language
* 4 Religion
* 5 Healthcare
* 6 Education
* 7 Transport
* 7.1 Canals
* 7.2 Historic railways
* 8 Sport
* 9 Recreation and leisure
* 10 Notable people
* 11 References
* 12 External links
It has also been known as, or recorded in historical documents as:
Album Monasterium; Blancminster; Blankmouster; Blancmustier; Croes
Oswallt; Oswaldestre; Meresberie.
Oswestry's story began with the 3000-year-old settlement of Old
Oswestry , one of the most spectacular and best preserved Iron Age
hill forts in Britain , with evidence of construction and occupation
between 800 BC and AD 43.
The site is also named Caer Ogyrfan or The City of Gogyrfan, the
Guinevere in legend.
Battle of Maserfield is thought to have been fought there in 642,
between the Anglo-Saxon kings
Penda of Mercia and Oswald of
Northumbria . Oswald was killed in this battle and was dismembered;
according to legend, one of his arms was carried to an ash tree by a
raven, and miracles were subsequently attributed to the tree (as
Oswald was considered a saint). Thus it is believed that the name of
the site is derived from a reference to "Oswald's Tree". The spring,
Oswald's Well, is supposed to have originated where the bird dropped
the arm from the tree. Offa\'s Dyke runs nearby to the west.
Domesday Book (1086) records a castle being built by Rainald, a
Norman Sheriff of
Shropshire : L'oeuvre ("the work" in French) – see
Oswestry Castle .
Alan fitz Flaad (died c.1120), a Breton knight, was granted the
feudal barony of
Oswestry by King Henry I who, soon after his
accession, invited Alan to
England with other Breton friends, and gave
him forfeited lands in
Shropshire , including some which
had previously belonged to
Ernulf de Hesdin (killed at
on crusade) and Robert of Bellême .
Alan's duties to the Crown included supervision of the Welsh border.
He also founded
Sporle Priory in Norfolk. He married Ada or Adeline,
daughter of Ernulf de Hesdin. Their eldest son William FitzAlan was
made High Sheriff of
Shropshire by King Stephen in 1137. He married a
niece of Robert of Gloucester . But two of their younger sons, Walter
and Simon, travelled to Scotland in the train of King David I , Walter
becoming the first hereditary
High Steward of Scotland and ancestor of
the Stewart Royal family .
The town has many
Welsh language street and place names and the
town's name in Welsh is Croesoswallt, meaning "Oswald's Cross". It
eventually became known as Oswald's Tree in English, from which its
current English name is probably derived. The town changed hands
between the English and the Welsh a number of times during the Middle
Ages . In 1149 the castle was captured by
Madog ap Maredudd
Madog ap Maredudd during
The Anarchy ', and it remained in Welsh hands until 1157.
Occasionally in the 13th century it is referred to in official records
as Blancmuster (1233) or Blancmostre (1272), meaning "White Minster".
Oswestry was attacked by the forces of Welsh rebel leader Owain
Glyndŵr during the early years of his rebellion against the English
King Henry IV in 1400; it became known as Pentrepoeth or "hot village"
as it was burned and nearly totally destroyed by the Welsh. The castle
was reduced to a pile of rocks during the
English Civil War
English Civil War .
Oswestry – Historic buildings in the town centre, October
2008. Timber framed building in foreground is Llwyd Mansion.
In 1190 the town was granted the right to hold a market each
Wednesday. With the weekly influx of Welsh farmers the townsfolk were
often bilingual. The town built walls for protection, but these were
torn down in the
English Civil War
English Civil War by the Parliamentarians after they
took the town from the Royalists after a brief siege on 22 June 1644,
leaving only the Newgate Pillar visible today.
After the foot and mouth outbreak in the late 1960s the animal market
was moved out of the town centre. In the 1990s, a statue of a shepherd
and sheep was installed in the market square as a memorial to the
history of the market site.
Park Hall, a mile east of the town, was one of the most impressive
Tudor buildings in the country. It was taken over by the Army during
World War I
World War I in 1915 and used as a training camp and military hospital.
On 26 December 1918 it burnt to the ground following an electrical
fault. The ruined hall and camp remained derelict between the wars,
the camp hospital, however, was still in use; the Baschurch
Convalescent and Surgical Home moved there in February 1921 and it
became known as the
Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital .
One of the main uses of the land from the 1920s was for motorcycle
racing and it became quite a well-known circuit.
The camp was reactivated in July 1939 for
Royal Artillery training
and the Plotting Officers' School. Following
World War II
World War II , Oswestry
was a prominent military centre for Canadian troops, then for the
British Royal Artillery, and finally a training centre for 15 to
17-year-old Infantry Junior Leaders. The camp closed in 1975. During
the 1970s some local licensed wildfowlers discharged their shotguns at
some passing ducks and were shot themselves by a young military guard,
who had mistaken them for an attacking IRA force.
The area previously occupied by the Park Hall military camp is now
mainly residential and agricultural land, with a small number of light
industrial units. Park Hall Farm became a visitor attraction in 1998,
it is home to the Museum of the
Welsh Guards . The Park Hall
Football Stadium (home of
The New Saints FC ) and The Venue (including
bowling, gym and restaurant) are also on the site.
Old Oswestry , situated on the northern edge of the town, dominates
the northern and eastern approaches. The 3000-year-old settlement of
Old Oswestry , is one of the most spectacular and best preserved Iron
Age hill forts in Britain , with evidence of construction and
occupation between 800 BC and AD 43.
The site is also named Caer Ogyrfan or The City of Gogyrfan, the
Guinevere in legend.
Other attractions in and around
Oswestry include: Whittington Castle
(in nearby Whittington ),
Shelf Bank and the Cambrian Railway Museum
located near the former railway station.
The town is famous for its high number of public houses per head of
population; there are around 30 in the town today, many of which offer
real ale . A story incorporating the names of all of the pubs once
Oswestry can be found hanging on a wall inside The Oak Inn on
Church Street. There is a tapestry of 40
Oswestry pub signs on display
in the town's Guildhall on the Bailey Head.
Brogyntyn Hall which belonged until recently to the Lords Harlech
lies just outside the town.
Oswestry has developed a wide range of arts activities throughout the
DRAMA AND FILM
The Attfield Theatre is based in the town's Guildhall. It traces its
origins back to 1928. The theatre produces several plays each year.
Oswestry Musical Theatre Company also organises regular
performances in the town. Fusion Arts organises a wide range of arts
and music activities for young people.
Kinokulture is Oswestry's boutique cinema which operates out of a
renovated church hall near the town centre. It organises a regular
programme of films and live performances. It also organises a Saturday
morning Kids' Club.
Llanymynech Amateur Dramatic Society, five miles away on the A483.
LADS produces three productions every year, including tours and open
Music events take place in various venues throughout the town.
A new music and arts venue is the Hermon Chapel Arts Centre which is
a renovated former
Welsh language chapel.
The town was the home of the composer
Henry Walford Davies who became
the Master of the King's Musick. Musical societies include the
Oswestry Choral Society and the
Oswestry Recorded Music Society.
Oswestry Ladies Choir has developed.
Oswestry was the birthplace of
Wilfred Owen , the First World War
poet. A civic park named
Wilfred Owen Green was opened in the town in
2010 by his nephew Peter Owen and has a 40m labyrinth, one of the
largest in the world. There is also a plaque and stone bench
dedicated to the poet in the town centre.
Oswestry is also the birthplace of
Barbara Pym , an English novelist
best for a series of social comedies she published in the 1950s, such
as 'Excellent Women' and 'A Glass of Blessings'.
The Willow Gallery is a hub for creative activity in Oswestry. It is
a contemporary art space displaying works by local and international
artists. It also organises workshops, talks and other events. Qube is
a community arts organisation. It organises exhibitions and various
activities on a regular basis.
Oswestry LitFest was established in 2000 and has grown steadily
since. It is an annual event taking place during two weeks in March. A
wide variety of talks and workshops take place around the town.
Oswestry Youth Music Festival takes place in February/March of
each year. There are 74 competitive classes for young musicians for
all ages up to 21 years. The
Oswestry Recital Series which is
Oswestry School takes place throughout the year and
includes performances by such performers as the Royal String Quartet
City of London Sinfonia .
Borderlines Film Festival takes place across thirty venues in
Herefordshire . During two weeks in Spring several
dozen carefully selected films are screened. Often they are followed
by talks by invited speakers. In Oswestry, Kinokulture is actively
involved in this festival.
Oswestry Food and Drink Festival takes place in July each year.
The Whittington International Chamber Music Festival takes place in
Oswestry was traditionally a Welsh speaking town and the parish
church conducted services in Welsh until 1814. English is the
dominant language today, but there are still some Welsh speakers.
Oswestry has one of the few Welsh-language bookshops outside Wales.
In the 2011 Census , 68.7% of the population of
that their religion was 'Christian'. The second largest group (22.8%)
stated that they had 'no religion'. Parish Church of St Oswald
There are a number of places of worship in Oswestry. There are two
England churches, which are part of the Diocese of Lichfield
: St Oswald's Parish Church and the Holy Trinity Parish Church. St
Oswald's Church was first mentioned in the 1085
Domesday book and a
tithe document in
Shrewsbury the same year. St Oswald's Church is
Grade II* listed , having a tower dating from late 12th or early 13th
century and later additions particularly in the 17th and 19th
centuries. There is a new window in the east nave, designed by
stained glass artist Jane Grey in 2004.
The town of
Oswestry and surrounding villages fall into the parish of
Help of Christians and St Oswald, in the Roman Catholic
Shrewsbury . The single Catholic church is Our Lady and St
Oswald's Catholic Church. There is an associated primary school.
There are two
Methodist churches: the Horeb Church on Victoria Road
Methodist Church. Cornerstone
Baptist Church is on
the corner of Lower Brook Street and Roft Street in a modern 1970s
Nonconformist churches include the Albert Road
Evangelical Church, the Carreg Llwyd Church ("Grey Rock"), founded in
1964, and the Cabin Lane Church, established by members of the Carreg
Llywd Church in 1991 following the eastern expansion of Oswestry.
Christ Church, now a
United Reformed Church but formerly
Congregationalist , was the home church of British composer Walford
Davies . There is a Welsh-speaking church, the Seion Church, and the
Anglican Church, a Western Rite
Anglican establishment. Coney
Green has a Jehovah\'s Witness Kingdom Hall. The Religious Society of
Friends also holds meetings in Oswestry. The Grade II* star Hermon
Chapel, by chapel architect Thomas Thomas , was a Welsh-speaking
Congregational church and is now an arts and community centre.
Muslim community exists in the town. A plan to transform a
19th-century former Presbyterian church on Oswald Road into a
permanent base for meetings and prayer services fell through in March
2013 due to the cost.
Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust in
Oswestry provides elective orthopaedic surgery and musculoskeletal
medical services. The hospital is located towards Gobowen.
There is a Minor Injuries Unit on
Thomas Savin Road, near the bus
Oswestry is home to the second oldest 'free' (which in this context
means not linked to any ecclesiastical foundation) school in the
Oswestry School , which was founded in 1407. (The oldest,
Winchester College , was founded in 1382.)
Oswestry School's 15th
century site, adjacent to St Oswald's Parish Church, is now a heritage
centre, housing the Tourist Information Centre,
Coffee Shop, and exhibitions.
There are several primary schools such as Our Lady and St Oswald's
Catholic Primary School and Woodside Primary School, which became an
academy on 1 May 2013. Secondary education is covered by two
Moreton Hall School (for girls) and the
Oswestry School (co-educational), and a comprehensive
The Marches School , which is also an academy.
Further education is provided by North
Shropshire College which is
situated in the town at
Shrewsbury Road and at the Walford Campus near
Oswestry – The former station and Cambrian Railways
headquarters, later the Cambrian Visitor Centre, October 2008.
Oswestry is at the junction of the A5 with the A483 and A495 . The A5
Shrewsbury to the north, passing the town, before
turning west near
Chirk and entering Wales.
Bus services are operated by
Arriva Midlands and local independents
Tanat Valley Coaches and Bryn Melyn . The town has regular bus routes
that link nearby villages and towns including Wrexham and Shrewsbury.
The Llangollen Branch of the
Shropshire Union Canal runs from
Ellesmere to Llangollen, running 4.5 miles east of the town at
Hindford and on through Chirk, 6 miles north. A navigable section of
the partially restored
Montgomery Canal , runs from Frankton Junction
(connecting to the Llangollen Branch of the
Shropshire Union Canal) to
The railway station , once on the main line of the Cambrian Railways
, was closed as a consequence of the 1960s' Beeching Report on British
Railways. Opened in 1840, the section from Whitchurch to Welshpool
(Buttington Junction), via Ellesmere , Whittington ,
Llanymynech , closed on 18 January 1965 in favour of the more viable
alternative route via
Shrewsbury , leaving only a short branch line of
Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway from
Gobowen to continue to serve
Oswestry – but only until 7 November 1966. The GWR branch had once
run into a separate GWR
Oswestry terminus, but this has long since
disappeared and the land redeveloped as a bus terminus and
supermarket. Trains were switched to the main Cambrian station from 7
July 1924. Down stopping train at
Oswestry in 1960
The main building of the Cambrian station is still a prominent
landmark in the town centre: it once housed the headquarters of the
Cambrian Railways company. After restoration, this building was
reopened as the Cambrian Visitor Centre in June 2006 but closed on 11
January 2008. It later reopened, and has since evolved into the
headquarters of the Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) and a small
catering establishment known as "Buffers"; other parts of the building
have been converted into retail and office units to contribute to the
upkeep of the building.
A single railway track still running through the station, once
overgrown and rusting, has been cleared and repaired and is the
subject of an ambitious plan to reopen the line as a steam heritage
Oswestry and Llanyblodwel and Pant (to link with the
Montgomery Canal – see above), and as a sustainable
community transport rail link from
Oswestry to the UK network
main-line railway station at
By 2013, the main "up" platform at
Oswestry station had been
reconstructed and some new semaphore signalling installed. The
branch-line track-bed from south of
Gobowen to Llanyblodwel is now
Shropshire Council, who lease the land to Cambrian Heritage
Railways (CHR), a registered charity. Work is advancing in securing
the transfer of the existing Transport however the legal process of
the TWAO Unit administering a form of written debate between the
proposer and objectors with a guided number of exchanges, was still
ongoing in mid 2016. CHR purchase of the final section of the Oswestry
Gobowen railway branch line was completed in April 2016;
nevertheless, other hurdles to becoming operational, such as
permissions and finances to reinstate the level crossings on the main
A5/A483 Trunk Roads, will also need to be overcome.
Immediately to the south of
Oswestry Railway Station is the Cambrian
Railways Museum; while a short distance to the north are the "listed"
Works Bridge and the former
Cambrian Railways works , which are now
occupied by a variety of local commerce concerns and Oswestry's
Community Health Centre and ambulance facility.
Oswestry Cricket Club's pavilion, August 2010
The former local football club,
Oswestry Town F.C. , was one of the
few English teams to compete in the League of Wales . It also won the
Welsh Cup in 1884, 1901 and 1907. The club folded due to financial
difficulties in 2003 and merged with Total Network Solutions F.C. of
Llansantffraid , a village eight miles (13 km) away on the Welsh side
of the border. Following the takeover of the club's sponsor in 2006,
the club was renamed as the New Saints . They moved to the redeveloped
Park Hall Stadium on the outskirts of the town in September 2007.
Oswestry Lions F.C. of the
Shropshire County League also play at the
Oswestry Cricket Club compete in the Birmingham and District Premier
League which is the oldest cricket league in the country. The club,
whose former player Andy Lloyd went on to captain Warwickshire and
also to play for England, play at their Morda Road ground to the south
of the town.
Oswestry Olympians Athletic and Triathlon club have a strong base in
the town with 130+ members. One of Its founders John Disley was a
co-founder of the London Marathon. The club puts on several local
races including a 5k at Park Hall, a 10k at Ellesmere, A 4 mile fell
race in the local village of Trefonen, a 6 mile fell race known as the
Gyrn Gallop in Rhiwlas and a Triathlon in
Oswestry itself. Members
also compete with regular success in the North Wales Cross Country
League with the Vet 40 team winning in 2015/16.
RECREATION AND LEISURE
From the 1700s to 1848, there was a popular racecourse outside the
town. Known as Cyrn-y-Bwch, the site was chosen on this 1000-foot
(above sea-level) hilltop because of its location between the Kingdom
England and the Principality of Wales, and the aim was to bring
together the local landowners and gentry of Wales and England.
Remnants of the old grandstand and figure-of-eight racetrack can still
Oswestry Race Course is common land , registered under the
Commons Act 1899 and the CROW Act 2000, with a number of rights of way
on the South Common including
Offa's Dyke Path and Bridleway. Also
designated as a publicly accessible open space and a Wildlife Site in
the 1999 Local Plan, it is an area reserved for: quiet, informal
leisure activities and recreation; the biological diversity of the
matrix of heathland, sparse woodland, ponds and ditches; and the
sustainable management and conservation of nature and wildlife.
The site provides extensive views across the surrounding landscape of
England and Wales.
Chirk Mill section of
Offa's Dyke Path (a national
trail) crosses the common.
Oswestry Youth Cafe and the Centre offer many sessions
See also: Category:People from
Oswestry and Category:People educated
Frank Bough , British television presenter
Thomas Bray , theologian
Shirley Brooks , journalist and novelist, lived there when
training as a solicitor 1832–38
John Vaughan Campbell ,
World War I
World War I Victoria
Cross winner, at a house called Broom Hall prior to 1939
Henry Walford Davies , composer
Matt Done , footballer for Sheffield United
* Peter Edwards ,
BP Portrait Award -winning artist
* Paul Evans , footballer
Carl Griffiths , footballer
Francis Humphrys , first British Ambassador in
Baghdad , born
at Beatrice Street when his father was a master at
* Ian Hunter , musician –
Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople , etc.
Di Jones , Welsh international footballer
Mark Laff , drummer of the rock band Generation X
Per Lindstrand , balloonist
Philip Llewellin , journalist and writer
* Andy Lloyd ,
England test cricketer and captain of Warwickshire
Alexander Macmillan, 2nd Earl of Stockton , Chairman of Macmillan
Boaz Myhill , footballer
* Charlie Morris , Welsh international footballer
Wilfred Owen ,
World War I
World War I soldier and poet
Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine , diplomat and courtier,
Barbara Pym , author
Gordon Jackson Rees , pediatric anesthesiologist
* Trevor Rees-Jones , bodyguard and survivor of the accident in
Diana, Princess of Wales died
Herbie Roberts , footballer
* Mark Robinson , former cricketer; now pub singer
Thomas Savin , railway engineer, buried
* Dame Stephanie Shirley , businesswoman and philanthropist, lived
Oswestry for six years as child and attended
Oswestry Girls' High
William Archibald Spooner , originator of the
William Henry Griffith Thomas , clergyman and scholar
Robert Ussher ,
Bishop of Kildare
Bishop of Kildare – buried at Doddleston Chapel,
* Edward Weston , chemist
Harold Whitfield ,
World War I
World War I
Victoria Cross -winning soldier –
born in the town, buried
* George Williams ,
Michigan state senator
Ian Woosnam , golfer
George Wynn , Welsh international footballer
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Census, Office for National Statistics, retrieved 3 September 2014
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Shropshire Council . "Welsh Collection at
Retrieved 3 March 2009.
* ^ NCA 63:
Oswestry Uplands Key Facts & Data at
www.naturalengland.org.uk. Accessed on 5 April 2013.
* ^ "Gatehouse Gazetteer – Oswestry". Gatehouse Gazetteer.
* ^ A B "History of
Old Oswestry Hill Fort". English Heritage.
* ^ Burke, Messrs., John and John Bernard, The Royal Families of
England, Scotland, and Wales, and Their Descendants &c., volume 2,
London, 1851, p. xl.
* ^ Ritchie, R. L. Graeme, The
Normans in Scotland, Edinburgh
University Press, 1954, p.280-1
* ^ Round, J. H., Studies in Peerage, p.123
* ^ Ritchie (1954) p.98n and 280-1
* ^ Ritchie (1954) p.281
* ^ E. Ekwall, 'Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names',
4th ed., 1960
* ^ "
Shropshire Routes to Roots. "Introduction to Park Hall".
Shropshire County Library Service.
* ^ A B C D E "Gazetteer of Sites: Park Hall Barracks, Oswestry
* ^ "The
Welsh Guards Collection: The Official Welsh Guards
Museum". Welsh Guards. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
* ^ "Park Hall Stadium". New Saints FC.
* ^ John S Turner. "
Brogyntyn Hall, near
Oswestry (C) John S Turner
:: Geograph Britain and Ireland". geograph.org.uk. Retrieved 17 May
* ^ "Attfield Theatre – Welcome!". attfieldtheatre.co.uk.
Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "omtc.info". omtc.info. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "Fusion Arts
Oswestry – Opening the Arts to Everyone".
fusionartsoswestry.co.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "HOME – Oswestry\'s Community Cinema". kinokulture.org.uk.
Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "Hermon Chapel". Retrieved 29 April 2017.
* ^ "
Oswestry Ladies Choir". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
* ^ https://qube-oca.org.uk/arts/
* ^ "Borderlines Film Festival". Borderlines Film Festival.
Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "
Oswestry Food Festival". oswestryfoodfestival.co.uk. Retrieved
17 May 2015.
* ^ "Whittington International Chamber Music Festival". Retrieved
30 April 2017.
* ^ "Popeth Yn Gymraeg website (Welsh)".
* ^ "Siop Cwlwm Website".
* ^ Office of National Statistics
* ^ "St Oswald Church
Oswestry – Church History".
stoswaldsoswestry.org.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "Church of St Oswald, Oswestry". British Listed Buildings.
Retrieved 7 February 2016.
* ^ "Home Page". osoprimary.co.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
* ^ "Cabin Lane Church – Who are we?". Cabin Lane Church.
Retrieved 27 March 2015.
* ^ "Christ Church – Picture and Notes". Retrieved 31 December
* ^ "Hermon Chapel, Oswestry". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved
7 February 2016.
* ^ "
Muslim prayer centre plan for church dropped". Shropshire
Star. 5 April 2013. p. 1.
* ^ "History of
Oswestry Orthopedic Hospital". NHS.
* ^ "History -
Oswestry School". oswestryschool.org.uk. Retrieved
10 August 2016.
* ^ "
Oswestry Town Council: Visitor and Exhibition Centre".
www.oswestry-tc.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
* ^ "Welcome to Oswestry". www.oswestry.com. Retrieved