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‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ talk by Dr Nigel Baker Thursday 9th March

The first Civic Forum this year takes place on at 7.00pm Thursday 9th March at the Bear Steps.

The forum, now in its third year features a talk by Dr Nigel Baker entitled ‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’.

After the talk there will be a question and answer session on recent planning issues concerning Shrewsbury. This is a chance for the public to catch up with the latest planning applications and air their views on those applications.

 

‘Shrewsbury’s Real Hight Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ by Dr Nigel Baker.

Pride Hill can claim to be Shrewsbury’s ‘real High Street’ on two counts. Historically, that was what it was called first – in Latin, it was the Altus Vicus (literally high street), along with the near end of Castle Street, before c.1300. At that time the street we now call the High Street was still known either as Gumble-stool Street (Ducking-stool Street) or Baker’s Row,only becoming the High Street later in the Middle Ages. And, much closer to our own time, Pride Hill and Castle Street were where all the familiar high-street multiple chain-stores of the 20th century went: Boots the Chemist in 1907, Woolworth’s in 1927, Mark’s and Spencer’s, Littlewood’s, and so on. In most towns, this process led to the widespread destruction of historic buildings and townscape and, ultimately, to the sad, dull, homogenisation of the English high street.

But this is Shrewsbury, while there have been losses, there are startling survivals too. Pride Hill has the remains of Shrewsbury’s earliest-known house, built c.1250, with architectural features of ‘cathedral-like quality’. Along much of the north side of the street, the familiar shops in their Georgian and Victorian buildings conceal the remains of a series of stone undercrofts, commercial basements and taverns from the 13th and 14th centuries, trapped deep in their cellars; these are rarely visited, except of course for the ancient MacDonald’s setting. Right across the street, Thornton’s can lay claim to being the town’s most primitive design of shop, a type being built more than 800 years ago. Even the big shopping centres of the 1980s are partly confined by property boundaries laid out before the Norman Conquest.

Pride Hill presents many classic instances of the kind of townscape, the three-dimensional archaeology, that makes Shrewsbury so distinctive – where old buildings, ancient boundaries, buried remains, and terraced hillsides, fit together to form the ultimate historical jigsaw puzzle, while continuing to pose questions like, how old are the Shuts of Shrewsbury?

We look forward to seeing you at what will be a very interesting talk.

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker

 

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