I found Oswestry to be a rather strange town. There are only a couple of big chain shops (and only small outlets at that) but lots of small, independent shops and very few empty premises. There is an indoor market on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and an outdoor market on Wednesdays and Saturdays (and there has been since 1190.
The name Oswestry is unusual and came to be in 642 AD then the Christian King Oswald was killed by the Pagan King Penda at the Battle of Maserfield. King Oswald's body was hung from a tree 'Oswalds Tree' since corrupted to 'Oswestry'.
The town has had a long and exciting history. After the Norman Conquest the region was granted to Roger de Montgomery by William the Conqueror. In turn it passed to Rainald who is thought to have built the first castle. After Rainald the castle passed to Alan Fitzlaad, descendant to the mighty Fitzalans, who later became the Lords of Clun and Arundel (in southern England). The castle was occupied by the Welshman Madoc ap Maerdydd the Prince of Powys, between 1149 and 1157, and he also held the Lordship of the area. However, when King Henry II came to the throne he returned the castle to the Fitzalan family. There was frequent conflict between the Welsh and the English, which saw the area and the castle sacked numerous times. Oswestry Castle was also used by King Henry II as a base for his (unsuccessful) campaigns against the Welshman Owain Gwynned, which demonstrates the importance that the castle held as it was on the Welsh border. In 1211 King John made moves against Llwellyn Fawr North Wales and once more Oswestry Castle came under attack. By 1270, as a result of all the action that the castle had seen, the castle’s walls had been extended to surround the town. In the 14th Century the Welshman Owain Glyndwr continued the hostility of the Welsh against English dominance and he attempted to establish himself as the rightful Prince of Wales.
|View from Castle Mound|
Following the Civil War Oswestry Castle was almost completely destroyed by the Parliamentarians, to ensure that it was uninhabitable. Much of the stone was then carted off to be reused in new buildings around the town and all that remained of the structure was a small collection of stones. In the 20th century the castle was placed in the control of the local council and the motte and surrounding area were turned into a public park. Today the only visible remains are some fragments of the walling.
In its time Oswestry was claimed by both English and Welsh monarchs but finally fell under English rule in 1535.
The town grew through the Cambrian Railway who based their headquarters at Oswestry in 1869, Park Hall Camp and Ifton Colliery at St. Martins. Both the Army camp and the colliery closed in 1968 and on 7th November 1966, train passenger services were ended with the closure of the Gobowen to Oswestry Branch. However, that section of line from the mainline at Gobowen was kept open for stone traffic from Blodwell, until 1988, when the line was officially ‘mothballed’.
3 bedrooms with views - £285,000!
One of the things we noticed in Oswestry is that property in the area is cheap – well at least for us living in the south. We could buy a barn conversion with four bedrooms, two en-suites and a family bathroom for less that £300,000 – crazy! The area is lovely too so it wouldn’t be a hardship except that we would be leaving our children behind so there is no way we could do it.
We caught the little country bus back to Maesbury and the kind driver dropped us off at the Navigation Inn as we had been to Morrisons and had bags of shopping. (Morrisons is right beside the bus station in Oswestry and Sainsburys is just around the corner with a bus stop almost outside). We had a quiet afternoon and evening ready for a celebratory day tomorrow!