Whitchurch high street
Whitchurch town guide
Whitchurch is not only one of Shropshire's busiest market towns, but also one of the most history-packed towns in the midlands. It's also the oldest continually inhabited town in Shropshire.
The town of Mediolanum (meaning "The place in the mid plain") was established in about 70AD by the Romans on the site of modern day Whitchurch. Built on a low hill, Whitchurch provided a perfect location on a major Roman route, half way between Chester (Deva) and Wroxeter (Viroconium).
Today, unlike Chester and Wroxeter, there's very little evidence of Roman occupation in the town. However the nearby mosses have provided both Iron Age and Roman artefacts - a few of which can be seen at the Whitchurch Heritage Centre. What Whitchurch possesses in abundance is beautiful Medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture.
The name Whitchurch comes from 'White Church'. The church in question was Norman and built from white stone (thought to be local chalk). That church was considered to be the second church on the same site. Although it hasn't survived, the current St Alkmunds Church was again built on the same spot in 1712, using sandstone.
One of Shropshire's chain of market towns, Whitchurch was granted 'town' status in 1284, and was awarded a market charter in the 14th Century. Today there's still a vibrant market every Friday.
Whitchurch also has a reputation for being 'The home of tower clocks'. Local clockmakers JB Joyce & Co were established in 1690 and are the oldest tower clock manufacturers in the world.
Many of their timepieces can be seen around Whitchurch and beyond, including Australia, China and India (They even had a hand in the building of Big Ben in London!).
Whitchurch also has a famous reputation for cheese making. Despite lying in north Shropshire, Whitchurch is widely regarded as the home of Cheshire cheese.
Whitchurch's famous sons and daughters include composer Edward German, Sir John Talbot (who gets a mention in Shakespeare's Henry IV part 1), and Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Author, Lorna Sage also went to the Whitchurch Girls' High School.
Despite a rich history, Whitchurch isn't rooted in the past. It offers enough large chain stores and smaller local shops to attract people from a large outlying area of north Shropshire and south Cheshire.
Not only can you find most of the necessities, but a variety of more traditional, specialist retailers provide visitors with a real shopping experience, in a town which possesses plenty of character.
Whitchurch Civic Centre
The Civic Centre boasts a number of facilities including a concert hall, tourist information office and a local library, which doubles as an occasional cinema.
Nearby, the small but fascinating Heritage Centre offers tourist information services, a historical guide to the town and often exhibits work by local artists.
Next door, the Whitchurch Craft Centre offers visitors the chance to see traditional arts and crafts being made.
Elsewhere, The Whitchurch Leisure Centre stages touring theatre productions and shows by local am-dram companies. The Centre also offers cinema screening and a huge variety of sporting activities.
Meanwhile, the town swimming pool is situated near the main car parking area and retail park.
If you're into team sports, there are few activities which aren't available. Whitchurch boasts active football, rugby, cricket, hockey and netball teams. Whitchurch is particularly known for its rugby heritage.
If you're into extreme sports, both rally driving and sky diving courses are available within a few miles of the town centre.
If all that sounds a bit too athletic for you, you may just prefer to relax in one of Whitchurch's many, many pubs.
last updated: 25/04/2008 at 10:49