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Whitchurch, Shropshire facts for kids

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Black Bear Inn, Whitchurch, Shropshire.jpg
Black Bear Inn,
at the junction of Church St and High St
Population 9,781 (2011)
OS grid reference SJ541415
Civil parish
  • Whitchurch Urban
Unitary authority
  • Shropshire
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Whitchurch
Postcode district SY13
Dialling code 01948
Police West Mercia
Fire Shropshire
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament
  • North Shropshire
List of places
ShropshireCoordinates: 52°58′08″N 2°40′55″W / 52.969°N 2.682°W / 52.969; -2.682

Whitchurch is a market town in Shropshire, England, 2 miles (3 km) east of the Welsh border on the North Shropshire Plain in the Welsh Marches, close to the Cheshire border. It is the oldest continuously inhabited town in Shropshire. The town is 20 miles (30 km) north of the county town of Shrewsbury, 20 miles (30 km) south of Chester, and 15 miles (24 km) east of Wrexham.

At the 2011 Census, the population of the town was 9,781. Its twin town is Neufchâtel-en-Bray, France.


Originally a settlement founded by the Romans around AD 52 or 70, it was called Mediolanum (lit. "Midfield" or "Middle of the Plain"). The settlement was located on a major Roman road between Chester and Wroxeter and Roman artefacts can be seen at the Whitchurch Heritage Centre. It was listed on the Antonine Itinerary but is not the Mediolanum of Ptolemy's Geography, which was in central Wales.

In 1066, Whitchurch was called Weston, likely named for its location on the western edge of Shropshire, bordering this north Welsh Marches. By the time Whitchurch was recorded in the Doomsday Book, a 1086 survey of England, Whitchurch was held by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, and of Roger de Montgomery. At that time, it was part of the hundred of Hodnet, Shropshire in 1086. The Doomsday Book estimates that the property was worth £10 annually (in 1086) and that it was worth £8 during the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). The name of Whitchurch is from the Middle English for "White Church", in reference to a church constructed from white stone during the Norman period. The area was also known as Album Monasterium and Blancminster, and the Warennes of Whitchurch were often known by de Albo Monasterio in contemporary writings. It is supposed that the church was built by the 1st Earl of Surrey. Before the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, the area was held by Harold Godwinson. After the conquest, Whitchurch's location on the marches would require the Lords of Whitchurch to keep a military activity. There was a castle at Whitchurch, possibly build by the same, William de Warren, 1st Earl of Surrey, which would predate the birth of Ralph.

Lords of Whitchurch

William fitz Ranulf is the first individual of the Warenne family recorded as the Lord of Whitchurch, Shropshire, first appearing in the Shropshire Pipe Roll of 1176. In 1859, Robert Eyton considered it likely that Ralph, son of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey, was the father of William and that he first held that title. In 1923, William Farrer agreed. However, 26 years later in a book written by Farrer and Charles Travis Clay, it is pointed out that chronologically, there may be room for other individuals between Ralph son of the 2nd Earl and William fitz Ranulf, Lord of Whitchurch, and perhaps Ralph de Warenne had a son named William, who had a son name Ranulf who is the father of William fitz Ranulf.

Later history

During the reign of Henry I in the 12th century, Whitchurch was within the North Division of Bradford Hundred which by the 1820s was referred to as North Bradford Hundred. These days the town's most prominent place of worship is St Alkmund's Anglican parish church. It was built in 1712 of red sandstone and stands on the site of the earlier Norman church. It is protected as a Grade I listed building.

Whitchurch Cemetery includes 91 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) burials. 24 are from the First World War, in scattered plots. 67 are from the Second World War, most of them grouped in a CWGC section. 52 of the latter are Polish or Czechoslovak, as No. 4 Polish General Hospital was at Iscoyd Park just over the border in Wales.


Whitchurch has roads to Wrexham, Nantwich, Chester and Shrewsbury; the A41/A49 bypass opened in 1992.

Whitchurch railway station is on the former London and North Western (later part of the LMS) line from Crewe down the English side of the Welsh border (the Welsh Marches Line) toward Cardiff. However, Whitchurch was once the junction for the main line of the Cambrian Railways, but the section from Whitchurch to Welshpool (Buttington Junction), via Ellesmere, Whittington, Oswestry and Llanymynech, closed on 18 January 1965 in favour of the more viable alternative route via Shrewsbury.

Whitchurch was also junction for the Whitchurch and Tattenhall Railway or Chester to Whitchurch branch line, another part of the London and North Western, and running via Malpas. As well as its own passenger and freight services, this line was a useful short cut for freight traffic to and from Chester and North Wales avoiding Crewe, and some long-distance passenger services were occasionally diverted this way. Although the line closed to regular services on 16 September 1957, the diverted passenger trains continued until 8 December 1963.

Whitchurch has its own short arm of the Llangollen Canal and the town centre can be reached by a walk of approximately 1.5 km along the Whitchurch Waterways Country Park, the last stage of the Sandstone Trail. The Whitchurch Arm is managed by a charity group of local volunteers.

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