The sleep deprived fog has lifted! Helped in no small part by a rare child free field trip away from the homestead.
My grasp of history is pretty good but I didn’t really know much about the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, until yesterday.
My destination was Battlefield in Shropshire. As the name suggests, it was the site of a battle in the reign of Henry the 4th and Battlefield replaced it’s previous name as a reminder of what had happened there.
A quick summary – the Percy family, led by Henry Percy, supported King Henry for a few years previously against several uprisings and attempts to overthrow him. The King promised land, titles and money as reward and didn’t deliver, instead he gave them to a rival house. This didn’t go down to well! More than 6,000 men died on the fields and ultimately, the Percy family were defeated and Henry Percy didn’t come out of it at all. His remains were quartered and sent to 4 cities. His head ended up on a spike at York. The men from both sides who died were buried in mass graves where they fell.
Battlefield is a lovely place, despite it’s sad history. Nestled on an open field is St Mary Magdalene church. It’s still consecrated but isn’t in regular use. The people at the Museum were happy to give us the key and let us stroll around.
(Please excuse the use of a photo taken from Google, I didn’t think to take one of the outside)
After the Battle, the King paid for the erection of a Chapel, as losses were so great on both sides, they believe that prayers should be said for the souls of the dead on the battlefield, after all their bodies remained there. The Chapel was built and in 1460 a church replaced the Chapel. The Victorians restored the church and added to it to the current state you see today, on the site of the battlefield.
We had a walk around the graveyard first, most of the grave date from 1862 to the 1930s, with a couple of modern additions. It’s always sad to see graves in a state of disrepair. I was drawn to a headless angel statue, marking the grave of a child who died aged 2.5 years in the early 1920s, it seemed like his whole family were there too not long after him. It gives you perspective doesn’t it?
I don’t want to be seen as being disrespectful or morbid because that isn’t my intention at all but I took one picture of the detailing of a headstone. It’s very obviously Art Deco in style, as it’s half of a sun burst on an angular plinth. I couldn’t figure out whether the other half had broken off or whether it was just a half to start with.
As an aside, it’s interesting to see the fashions in headstones, modern day headstones are boring in comparison to some of the Victorian and early half the 1900s offerings. Some people feel that graveyards are creepy but there’s no better place for quiet contemplation.
Some of the detailing on the outside is fantastic. This is the Victorian statue of King Henry the 4th
Can you spot him?
In typical Gothic fashion, there are a few tortured souls standing guard.
One arm is holding his stomach and the other is clutching his head.
There are eyes everywhere!
There’s so much detail, I wouldn’t want to bore you with all of them.
On the inside, the Victorian(?) tiles caught my eye. Well, not so much caught as immediately demanded attention
They were made in nearby Jackfield in Telford, which in times gone by were an important manufacturer of tiles. I wish they still made them like this, my kitchen would be infinitely more interesting to look at.
This is the floor of the small side chapel, I think I’m right in saying that this is where the original chapel was
Before I run this risk of waffling on too much (or have I already done that?) I will conclude by saying that it’s a lovely place with a sad history but is well worth a visit if you are in the area. It doesn’t cost anything to visit but they appreciate donations to help with the upkeep of the church.