Relaunch of Victoria County History in Shropshire

The Shropshire Victoria County History for Shropshire was relaunched on 31st October 2015
at the Guildhall in Shrewsbury. The first scheduled project will be a history of Wem, due to appear in late 2016
or early 2017. Wem Civic Society is involved in this development. Anyone interested in helping, either through writing,
research or sponsorship, should contact the society at wemcivicsoc@yahoo.org.uk

At the launch, two lecturers provided details of the structure and details of the Marcher towns. Dr Barrie Trinder
examined the buildings and occupations through photographs, while Dr Keith Lilley of Queens University Belfast
looked at the structure of Marcher towns. Dr Lilley used his own, and other established models, to illustrate
how the towns had grown. He showed how many, such as Ludlow, had developed around a strong fortress, with a
broad market place leading from it. Straight parallel streets of housing filled the gap between the fortress
and the outer walls of the town. In some cases, such as Beaumaris and Conwy, the street pattern of one could be
superimposed on that of the other, showing that the same town designer had been at work. In other Marcher towns,
e.g. Hereford, he showed the way both in which the Norman town had been fitted onto the previous Saxon settlements,
and the subsequent developments along feeder roads. While Lilley did not cite Oswestry, he mentioned how the development
of walls affected that of the streets. There, the need for outer walls because of raids both from Llewellyn ap Gruffyd
in the west, and from the inhabitants of Maelor Saesneg to the east, made it vital that Edward I fortify the town.
Murage tax was raised and the walls were developed with 4 gates,leaving the commercial centre within the walls but
leaving the existing church outside.
The walls survived until dismantled during the civil war. Names of roads have been affected, e.g. of English Walls
and Welsh Walls. Little trace of the walls remains today but streets that cross them would either have been truncated
or have had their routes substantially changed.

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