ShrewsburyShrewsbury Abbey
Abbey Foregate
Shropshire, SY2 6B5
Located to the east of the town centre, near the English Bridge is a large red sandstone church. The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly known as Shrewsbury Abbey, is all that is left of an ancient foundation.
The site has been a place of worship since Anglo-Saxon times and the Abbey was founded on the site of an existing Saxon chapel.
Roger de Montgomery
In an effort to guarantee a comfortable place in the afterlife, Roger de Montgomery, the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury, founded a Benedictine Monastery in 1083.
He recruited monks from his lands in Normandy to create the monastic community and lavishly endowed it with numerous lands and estates ensuring they lived a comfortable life. In return the monks witnessed the family’s property deals and were custodians of their documents. Roger joined the community as a lay member, taking his vows in the Abbey in 1094, and died three days later.
Obtaining a Holy Relic
Although the Abbey flourished, during the early 12th century, the monks of Shrewsbury apparently felt their monastery was incomplete because they had no relics of a special patron to honour and bring glory to the name of God - not to mention lucrative offerings from vast hoards of pilgrims.
The Prior, Robert Pennant, therefore took it upon himself to find a suitable candidate whose remains he might appropriate for his Abbey Church. With his Abbot's blessing, he led an expedition into Wales where, in 1138, he acquired the bones of St. Gwenfrewi from the inhabitants of Gwytherin in Gwynedd. Known as St. Winifred to the English, this lady was brought back to Shrewsbury and enshrined, probably behind the high altar, with great ceremony. Her holiness did indeed make the Abbey a major pilgrimage centre, bringing honour and prestige to its Abbots.
Priests and Politics
The medieval abbots of Shrewsbury were some of the most significant ecclesiastics in the country. They were often drawn into political life because of their great diplomatic and administrative skills. They would be called upon to inspect the local militia and survey the town's castle; they served as Justices of the Peace and as gaolers for important hostages; and, from the 13th century, they sat in Parliament.
In those days, parliament moved around the country and met at important sites, chosen by the King according to where he happened to be staying. Parliament gathered at Shrewsbury Abbey in 1283, when King Edward I was campaigning against the Welsh. It included the first ever sitting of the House of Commons.
A hundred years later, King Richard II also used the Abbey for political business by holding the 'Great Parliament' of 1398. The Shrewsbury abbots were growing ever more powerful; only the previous year, they had been given the right to wear the mitre usually reserved for bishops.
Shrewsbury Abbey was known for its many scholars and, in the early fifteenth century, its Abbot, Thomas Prestbury, was even Chancellor of Oxford. He tried to forestall the Battle of Shrewsbury but was unsuccessful.
Guild of St Winifred
The monarchy continued to take an interest in the Abbey throughout the 15th century, and in 1487, King Henry VII issued a licence to Abbot Mynde for the establishment of the Guild of St. Winifred whose members were to offer daily prayers at the lady's shrine for the good health of the king, the Abbot and the Guild. It lasted only fifty years, but was reinstated by the Abbey authorities in 1987.
During the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, much of the Abbey was destroyed but the nave survived as a parish church and today serves as the mother church for the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross.
Opening Hours
Christmas Day and Boxing Day the Abbey is open only for Services.
Summer (April - October): Monday-Sunday, 10:00 – 16:00 (last entry 15:45)
Winter (November - March): Monday-Sunday, 10:30 – 15:00 (last entry 14:45).
Note: Shrewsbury Abbey is largely dependent on volunteers to keep the Abbey open to visitors, so on rare occasions it may be closed during normal hours. As the Abbey is still a functioning Parish Church please check the website or with the Parish Office for any change in visiting hours.
Admission Cost
Free but donations are always welcome.
If there is a concert or exhibition in the Abbey building, there may be an event charge.
There are 3 services on Sunday and 2 services each weekday.
For details go to  Web:  Shrewsbury Abbey/ Services
Wilfred Owen Memorial
A memorial to the First World War Shropshire poet, Wilfred E S Own, MC can be found in the Abbey grounds. Entitled ‘Symmetry’ the granite sculpture was designed by Paul de Monchaux and commissioned in 1993.
The inscription "I am the enemy you killed, my friend..." engraved on the memorial is sourced from Owen’s poem ‘Strange Meeting’. Owen’s poem vividly describes trench warfare and how soldiers die without ever leaving the trench they are sheltering in.
Owen imagines the experience of one soldier confronting another in the scooped tunnel down which the dead soldier escapes on his last journey to this meeting.
The sculpture also expresses the significance of the poet as a bridge builder and communicator. The stark shape reflects the structure of the trenches lined with duckboards; it also reflects the Sambre canal and the pontoon bridge which Owen’s unit was struggling to construct when he was killed on 4th November 1918.
The symmetries of the design match the symmetries in Strange Meeting. The ground itself marks the boundary between the living world above and its cold reflection below. The sculpture’s duel function as a bench is deliberate in this context, another way of spanning the uncertain ground, a safe heaven.
The church stands on a triangular area which is today referred to as Abbey Foregate. The building is Grade I listed, full of ancient chest tombs, early Norman architecture and is a very interesting place to visit.
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1743 - 232723 (Office Hours: 9:30-12:30 Monday to Friday)
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Getting There
The Abbey website has excellent directions for getting to Shrewsbury and the Abbey Church. Go to  Web:  Shrewsbury Abbey/ Getting There
Google Map - Quarry Park

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