Day 8 Walking the River Severn.
After one week of walking each day, we were looking forward to a free day to recharge our batteries and our first full day of sightseeing. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side as it was raining steadily but with a good raincoat it didn’t deter us from exploring the town.
Our first port of call was the Cliff Railway, which has been transporting people up and down, between the Low Town and the High Town, since 1892. It seems to be the only inland cliff railway in the UK and so for £1.60 return, we thought it was a great way to start our “non-walking” day.
The Castle remains
At the top, we continued around to the castle remains, which has its origins in 912 AD and was built by a daughter of King Alfred, Ethelfleda, to guard against the Danes. Looking down, we could easily understand how strategically positioned this castle was. For many years, Bridgnorth prospered being in important and busy port on the River Severn, attracting industry such as ironworks, carpet mills, brewing and tanning.
At the castle remains, we discovered that it was the Civil war in 1646 which led to its downfall when Cromwell’s men destroyed it. Nowadays, there is just a leaning piece of brickwork from the keep to remind us of that history.
We continued walking around the market town, enjoying the atmosphere of the Saturday outdoor market before visiting the Shakespeare Pub for a surprisingly good Lasagne lunch. The pub has been renovated and was originally called the Punch Bowl and first licensed in 1792. It was here that we became interested in just how many pubs there are in Bridgnorth.
We couldn’t find out just how many pubs there are now but just the idea of 21 operational and well-used pubs in the main areas is quite remarkable. In the past, the town must have had a big port with many workers and sailors all needing accomodation, food and drink and at one point there were over 100 pubs.
The Town Hall
Bridgnorth Town Hall is a black and white building erected in 1650. It is a listed building comprising an oak framed hall aon top of stone pillars. The hall was built on stilts to provide a covered market place for the town. Markets are still held beneath the hall and we personally experienced the benefits of the cover in the rain. It is half timbered and most certainly a very beautiful place to hold council meetings.
The Northgate Museum
The Northgate Museum stands at one end of the High Street and how delighted we were with the exhibits we found inside. It was full of odds and ends and fascinating bits and bobs from the past Bridgnorth. From archaeological finds to advertising posters and an Edwardian cash till, we had a lot of fun wandering around here.
Our home for the two nights was the Bassa Villa at the bottom of Cartway (the main connecting road to the High Town), directly by the river with a great beer garden and comfortable room. The pub was originally called the Magpie and dates back to 1593. It has long been popular with ghost hunters because it is rumoured to be haunted by a mother, a past landlord, whose two children died there. It is said that the two children were playing in the cellar when the river suddenly flooded and they became trapped and drowned. The parents had statues made of the children and they were displayed in the garden when we visited.