Delve a little deeper and you'll soon notice the many bridges that stretch outwards like spokes on a wheel. Encircled by the bends in the Severn river, Shrewsbury sits snug in the middle of a horse-shoe shape, 20 miles from the Welsh border.
|Map reconstruction of Shrewsbury c 1630 from Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery|
Right in the town's centre is, in my opinion, Shrewsbury's most fabulous building. Built at the end of the reign of Elizabeth I, the Old Market Hall still stands proudly in Shrewsbury's town square. Formerly used as a market place with an enclosed upper floor originally used for storing corn, it's now a cinema space giving this ancient building a new purpose. On my visit I didn't get a chance to go upstairs but now I wish I had.
Evolution Explored - free public photographic exhibition
Just outside the Old Market Hall we found the photographic exhibition we had been told about. Evolution Explored is the first exhibition of its kind in Shrewsbury that takes place outside. A series of huge photographs installed at right angles to each other capture a diverse selection of communities across the world. The ones that stood out to me included an aerial shot of an indoor artificial beach in Japan, packed with people on towels. Another shot was a close up of an old brick building in Harlem, New York taken in 1966, with heads leaning out of windows and people congregating below, unaware that the moment had been captured. The final and most curious photo was a black and white close up of some prisoners with shaven heads in a cell of punishment in the former USSR in 1988. I kept returning to look at this photo, behind the prisoners is an undeniably grim looking cell but the expressions on their faces did not depict anything I'd expect to see.
|Bruce Davidson / Magnum Photos, Evolution Explored, Shrewsbury|
|Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos, Evolution Explored, Shrewsbury|
Our next stop was directly beside where we were standing, inside a building called the Music Hall. Housed inside we found Shrewsbury's Museum and Art Gallery where you can see up close a recently found hoard of Spanish gold from 400 years ago that I think the British Museum were keen to exhibit. They also had a red cloak apparently soaked in the blood of Charles I after he had been beheaded. The articles and paintings on display were a fascinating whizz through history and definitely worth exploring.
|Formal Garden In Dogpole, Shrewsbury attributed to John Bowen (c 1710)|
Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, The Square, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 1LH
Rhyme Around the World - Children's Illustrators Exhibition
In the Museum they also have a space for temporary exhibitions where we found an absolutely lovely selection of prints by children's Illustrators. Beside each framed illustration was a familiar children's nursery rhyme. There was such a diverse collection of different styles from Illustrators such as Robert Ingpen, Shirley Hughes, Axel Scheffler, Emily Gravett, Mini Grey, Jessica Ahlberg, Polly Dunbar. To give you a flavour of the diversity of styles here are three that featured cats.
|Illustration by Jane Ray, Rhyme Around the World, Shrewsbury|
|Illustration by Sara Ogilvie, Rhyme Around the World, Shrewsbury|
|Illustration by Catherine Raynor, Rhyme Around the World, Shrewsbury|
Rhyme Around the World, runs until Sunday 7 May 2017
The King's Head Medieval Wall Painting
We were coming to the end of our exploration when we came across a medieval building that had two upper storeys with an impressive lean outwards. I was just taking a picture when a man who had come into view, looked round and kindly tried to step out of shot. I said, no not at all please stay in the picture and a moment later we had learned that he was the Manager of the pub, Andy. He was just about to open up and invited us in to see an incredible relic inside the building. Painted in reds and yellows a piece of the pub wall depicted a scene from the Last Supper. The Medieval wall painting had become lost to history until a restoration of the pub in 1987 led to its rediscovery. It's thought likely that the wall art had originally adorned the inside of a chapel.
It was a delight to come across such a rare survival of wall art from the Middle Ages and we were grateful to the Manager for letting us come in and have a look.
King's Head, 48 Mardol, Shrewsbury, SY1 1PP
Before we returned to Darwin's Townhouse to get dressed for an evening of cocktails and Asian fusion platters we took a walk over the English bridge with pretty views in both directions.
Click on the link to find out more about the newly launched Magnum Photos Exhibition - 'Evolution Explored' world-class international photography exhibition. Located at The Square and St Mary's Church. For more information on Shrewsbury visit www.originalshrewsbury.co.uk
The free public exhibition runs until 23rd April 2017 and is accompanied by an educational and public programme of talks and workshops.
With thanks to Original Shrewsbury for organising my trip. Come back and find out what we thought of our cocktails and meal at House of the Rising Sun.
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