Local History

Wellington is rich in history with its name most likely derived from that of a Saxon settler – Weola – whose farmstead would have been located somewhere in the centre of town, possibly near The Green. A church has stood near that site for almost 1000 years and a priest is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The original churchyard still remains.

In medieval times Wellington was known as ‘Wellington under The Wrekin’ – which perfectly illustrates its intrinsic link with the mighty Wrekin, which dominates the skyline. The Wrekin is the spiritual heart of Shropshire and Wellington is proud to have been the key market town in the centre of the county. The town blossomed thanks to its famous market and boasts a town centre rich in historical architecture mainly of the Georgian period, but with the medieval ‘lanes’ – Bell Street, Crown Street and Duke Street – indicating its importance as a more ancient commercial centre.

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Wellington Charter Market

Wellington’s first market charter was granted to Giles of Erdington, lord of the manor, and is dated 1244 and to this day a market still exists. The market had an open-sided market hall by 1680 – and possibly much earlier – but this was dismantled c.1805. In 1841, a market company formed to purchase the market rights from Lord Forester in 1856. Several years later in 1848, the company built a town hall with the butter market below, creating a permanent covered home for traders.
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Wellington Mural Trail

The Makers’ Dozen Trail is a series of 12 life-sized portraits appearing on buildings around the centre of the town. They feature craftspeople, manufacturers and creatives from several centuries of Wellington’s history, all peering out from windows (or occasionally doorways) painted by Midlands artist Paula Woof. Some of our characters will be well-known to local people, others have been largely forgotten, but all represent something different about Wellington’s ‘maker’s heritage’ from the medieval period to the 20th Century.

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Made in Wellington

Making History

Wellington is proud to call itself a town of makers – a place with a long history of craftsmanship and creativity, and home to a host of modern-day makers offering a welcome antidote to all things mediocre and mass-produced.

Victoria County History of Shropshire has completed lots of research over the last 30 years and from this we have found out lots about Wellington’s historic makers and the things they made from medieval craftsmen to Victorian manufactures.

The trades and industries that historically were made in Wellington in many ways are what made Wellington the town it is today. Historical research tells us that not only was Wellington the home of the main crafts and industries but like most market towns the list dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries included skinners and shoemakers, gunsmiths and glovers, rope-makers and pipe-makers. A century later the trade directories tell us of cutlers, clock makers, jewellers, milliners, stone masons and more. The biggest change occurred during the 19th century, when workshops grew into factories and turned this middle-ranking market town into an important centre for manufacturing in Shropshire

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Sunnycroft

Tucked away on the edge of Wellington is this rare suburban villa and mini-estate. Walk up the large avenue of Wellingtonia trees and this red-brick villa is unexpectedly revealed offering a chance to immerse yourself in an Edwardian era.

This time capsule, which is furnished with original wallpapers, Maw’s tiles and gold medal winning fireplaces, transports you back to the pre-First World War ‘country house’ lifestyle. Packed full with everyday items belonging to the families who lived here, you can feel the familiarity and comfort of this home as well as the features of a grander house, such as the Billiard Room, Drawing Room and impressive Staircase Hall.

The 5 acres of garden is complete with glass houses, conservatory, kennels, pigsties and stables and is perfect for a wander or a game of croquet. An Edwardian tea-room serves refreshments.

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The Wrekin

From the Bronze Age to the 1st Century The Wrekin was the hill fort headquarters of the Celtic Cornovii tribe. The last ruler of the hill fort was Virico when the conquering Roman army arrived. The Romans built their fort 4 miles to the west but called it Viroconium in honour of their defeated foe.

Although no longer a fort The Wrekin became part of a Royal Forest during Saxon and Norman times. The Normans tried to rename the hill Mount Gilbert (after a local hermit), but the name refused to stick and the people all around insisted on still calling it The Wrekin.

There are many folk lore stories about The Wrekin involving giants and devils. Legend has it that The Wrekin was created by a disgruntled giant who had been planning on damming the Severn to flood Shrewsbury, on his way he met a canny Cobbler who persuaded him that Shrewsbury was still a long way off – “enough to wear down all these shoes” – so the giant dropped his spadesful, forming The Wrekin, and turned back for home.

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Apley Castle

To the north-east of Wellington is the site of Apley Castle, originally a fourteenth-century fortified manor house, the remains of which were converted into a stable block with the building of a grand Georgian house, which was itself demolished in the 1950s. The surviving stable block has been converted into apartments and retains some medieval features.

Visit the Apley Woods website for more information.

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Wellington Declaration

Before the first major battle of the English Civil War had even been fought, Wellington was the scene of a significant moment in the early history of the conflict. It was on the outskirts of the town in 1642 that King Charles effectively declared war on his Parliament, when he vowed to defend the freedom and liberty of the Church and State against his enemies. The ‘Declaration of Wellington’, as it became known, was considered so important at the time that the Royal Mint issued new coinage to mark the delivery of Charles’ famous speech.

It’s believed Wellington was chosen as a site roughly a day’s march from Shrewsbury where the King could be assured of a loyal audience. The identity of the field in question has never been confirmed but the Charlton family’s ancient seat of Apley Castle, on the western outskirts of Wellington, is the most likely.

Apley was garrisoned at a very early point in the conflict and several skirmishes and minor battles took place there during the course of the war.

Pictured: Coin to commemorate the Wellington Declaration; photo credit Heritage Auctions, HA.com

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