Shrewsbury Abbey was founded as a Benedictine Monastery by Roger de Montgomery in 1083. After the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII the part of the Abbey building which survived continued as a Parish Church - as it is to this day.
When people think of Shrewsbury Abbey, they often think of Brother Cadfael. The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, written by Ellis Peters are inspired by medieval Shrewsbury and the character of Cadfael is a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewbsury Abbey in the first half of the 12th century. Despite Ellis Peters' (whose real name was Edith Pargeter) death in 1995, her mystery novels are still popular and were adapted as a television series of dramas starring Sir Derek Jacobi.
Shrewsbury Abbey also has connections with Wilfred Owen, one of the best known of the First World War War Poets. Owen lived in the parish from 1910-1918, his name appears on the 'Great War' memorial tablet inside Shrewsbury Abbey, and there is also a a memorial sculpture entitled 'Symmetry' in the grounds of the Abbey.
Shrewsbury Abbey is open most days of the year, however it's always wise to check by calling 01743 232 723.
There is no charge for visiting Shrewsbury Abbey.
Just occasionally there may be a Concert or an Exhibition which will attract a charge.
Summer (April - October) : 10am - 4pm (last entrace 3.45pm)
Winter (November - March) : 10.30am - 3.00pm (last entrance 2.45pm)
Shrewsbury Abbey have a number of experienced guides and are pleased to welcome group visits and school visits by arrangement with the office - please call 01743 232 723.
Shrewsbury Abbey was founded in 1083 by the Norman Roger de Montgomery and started life as a small, wooden, Saxon, chapel of St. Peter.
It was the priest of St. Peter's church, who, returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, persuaded Roger de Montgomery, the newly appointed Earl of Shrewsbury, to turn the church into an Abbey. Roger sent for two monks from Normandy to direct the construction of the Abbey.
The Abbey became the centre of Norman and Medieval power in the region. The Monks who formed the community here followed the rule of St. Benedict for 457 years. The church was the centre of a daily round of prayer, study and manual work.
During the early twelfth century, the Abbey flourished. However, the Abbey's monks felt their monastery was incomplete, lacking any religious relics. The then prior, Robert Pennant, went with his Abbot's blessing to find remains of someone suitable for burial in the Abbey church. He returned from Wales in 1138 having acquired the bones of St. Gwenfrewi, known as St. Winifred to the English. The relics were enshrined and made Shrewsbury Abbey a major centre of pilgrimage.
In the 13th century parliament moved around the country and met at important sites, chosen by the King. In 1283 a parliament met in the Chapter House, the first national assembly in which the commons were involved.
As is common with all English Abbeys and Priories the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII saw monastic life come to an end. However, during the dissolution in 1540, the Abbey lost its domestic buildings and much of the church. After the dissolution a shortened nave was left to serve as the parish church.
Today Shrewsbury Abbey stands on a large, harp-shaped green, planted with trees and laid out with gravestones. The west tower, with its large decorated, stained glass window, was built in the 14th Century in the reign of Edward II whose statue can be seen above the window.
Inside, Shrewsbury Abbey retains four of the massive drum-shaped columns from the original Norman church, and fragments of the shrine of St. Winifred.
As mentioned above, the First World War memorial below the tower includes the name of Lieutenant W.E.S. Owen, MC – the war poet Wilfred Owen who lived in Shrewsbury and was killed in action in 1918.
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This is the official tourism and visitor website for Shrewsbury provided by Shropshire Tourism, the official destination marketing organisation for Shropshire - read more