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History of Whitchurch: Timeline and interactive map
c.3000BC Neothilic (New Stone Age) hunter-gatherers living around Whitchurch
c.2000BC Bronze Age people, who smelted metals from mineral ores
Iron Age (‘Ancient Britons’) well established, members of Cornovii tribe. Remains of their hill-top forts evident all over Shropshire
The Romans and After
Roman invasion of Britain. Relatively little local resistance
1st Century AD
Roman road (later called Watling Street) driven northwest from London. Whitchurch stands on site of Roman military fort Mediolanum, the mid-point between Viroconium (Wroxeter) and Deva (Chester)
Civilian town spreads eastwards to St Mary’s Street
Roman army leaves Britain. Mediolanum possibly survived for centuries, but no evidence yet discovered
Germanic tribes invade, settling in the area. Anglo-Saxon language develops, reflected in many of today’s place names
Offa, King of West Mercia, builds Anglo-Welsh border Dyke.
Prince Alkmund, son of King Alhred, murdered. Now commemorated in
six English churches
Accepted date of foundation of St Alkmund’s Church in Whitchurch
1000 to 1599 AD
Whitchurch known as Westune. Manor includes Ash, Broughall, Woodhouse, Hinton, Tilstock, totalling fewer than 200 inhabitants.
Southern hamlets Dodington, Alkington and Edgeley separately owned, with further 100 people
Aelfgar, earl of Mercia, rules the area
Westune becomes Royal Manor in January following marriage of Aelfgar’s daughter to Earl Harold of Wessex, who became King of England until death at Battle of Hastings in October. Roger de Montgomery receives most of Shropshire, passing Westune to William de Warenne
Domesday Book census. William de Warenne builds new church to replace Saxon original, of white Grinshill stone, called Album Monasterium (in Latin), Blancminster (in French), finally becoming (White) Whitchurch. Motte and bailey castle built on Castle Hill
First Rector of St Alkmund’s instituted. Whitchurch now small market town with weekly Wednesday market, annual fair, free court and gallows
Fulke le Strange of Ellesmere becomes Lord of the Manor of Whitchurch
Fulke le Strange’s son John marries Ankaret Botilar, bringing her dowry of the three southern hamlets into the Manor and Parish of Whitchurch
John represents Shropshire in Parliament (1330-43). Fights at Crecy (1346). He and son perish in Black Death (1349). Swathes of land uncultivated due to widespread deaths
Another Ankaret le Strange (married to Richard Talbot) inherits the estate
Sir Henry Percy (‘Hotspur’) killed at Battle of Shrewsbury. Body buried
temporarily at St Alkmund’s Church
Welsh raiders almost completely destroy Whitchurch, taking seven years
John Talbot, son of Ankaret and Richard Talbot, inherits the estate
John engaged in Hundred Years War. Gains massive reputation in struggle
to retain English possessions in France. Created 1st Earl of Shrewsbury (1442). Surrendered to French at Rouen (1449). Town slowly recovering
John dies at Castillon, last battle of the War. Buried at St Alkmund’s
Talbot family involved in Wars of the Roses, supporting Henry VI. John,
2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, killed in 1460
Gilbert Talbot knighted for loyal service
John Leland, antiquarian, visits and writes the first known (and
favourable) description of Whitchurch
John Talbot Rector of Whitchurch, probably grandson of 1st Earl. Gives
£200 to found free Grammar School
Edward Talbot sells Manors of Whitchurch and Dodington to Sir Thomas
Egerton for £20,000
1600 to 1990's
Egerton appointed Lord Chancellor of England under James I, becoming Baron Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley
Shropshire strongly Royalist in Civil war. Whitchurch taken by
Parliamentary forces 1643, retaken by Prince Rupert 1644
113 deaths in worst Plague outbreak to date. Town population now 2,500
Nonconformist minister Philip Henry living in Dodington, preaches locally for 20 years. Dies 1696, buried in St Alkmund’s
Higginson almshouses at Bargates built and occupied.
Medieval Church of St Alkmund’s collapses 31st July. New church consecrated October 1713.
First Presbyterian Church burned down by High Church rioters.
New Town and Market Halls built (now Barclays Bank). Many fine town houses built, especially along Dodington, during 18th Century.
First map of Whitchurch made.
Whitchurch Tradesmen’s Society formed to provide sick pay and pensions.
James Joyce purchases 40-42 High Street for clock-making works.
New Workhouse built at Deermoss. Mansion House built in Dodington.
Last bull baiting held at Bullring.
Branch of Ellesmere Canal reaches Sherryman’s Bridge, later extended to The Wharf (1811).
Town gasworks established at Sherryman’s Bridge.
New National School opens for 250 boys
William Smith, later WH Smith and Co, opens small iron foundry.
Railway line Crewe to Shrewsbury via Whitchurch opened.
Composer Edward German born at Old Town Hall Vaults.
Oswestry line opened (later Cambrian Railway).
Working Men’s Hall (now Archibald Worthington Club) opened.
First edition Whitchurch Herald published.
First bypass built as Bridgwater and Brownlow Streets.
First Cottage Hospital built opposite St John’s Church.
Roman cremation urn unearthed at Sedgeford.
Huge Army camp built on Prees Heath for 30,000 men.
Harry Richards establishes ‘Salopia’ coach company.
Electricity reaches Whitchurch, population now 6,000.
Canal abandoned. Chester and Oswestry railway lines closed (during1950s and 1960s).
Latest bypass built, population now over 8,000.
First section of renovated canal opens, from New Mills Bridge to Chemistry Bridge.
To view an interactive map of Whitchurch that links to historic information about the streets of the town click on the 'Maps' button on the left hand menu and then select 'Whitchurch Town Trail Interactive Map - Whole Map'.