Shropshire’s Hidden Gems Explored in Society of the Arts Book

Rob Hubbleday, president of the Arts Society West Midlands, at the Wrekin

The guide aims to boost tourism in the county after a difficult year and to create a buzz around some of the neglected aspects of the area.

As part of the National Arts Society’s golden anniversary celebrations, each society has been tasked with creating a guide to the hidden gems of their region.

Members of the Arts Society were invited to suggest lesser-known art objects and places for inclusion in this regional guide, the sixth to be published in England and Wales by The Arts Society.

There are 17 companies in the West Midlands, three of which are based in Shropshire – Wrekin, Shrewsbury and Borders & Mid-Wales.

Rob Hubbleday, president of The Arts Society West Midlands, said: “This idea was launched without realizing that there would be a Covid pandemic and lockdown just as we asked 17 companies in the West Midlands to go out and photograph their hidden treasures.

Rob Hubbleday, President of the Arts Society West Midlands, at the Wrekin

“But we were able to overcome everything and keep going when the restrictions were relaxed. It made life very difficult, but on the other hand, it gave us focus and plans when we couldn’t meet. “

Hidden Gems include one of Britain’s best-preserved hill forts at Oswestry; the finest Roman mirror found in Britain at Wroxeter, now in the Shrewsbury Museum; and the Flaxmill Maltings, under restoration and known as the “grandparent of the modern skyscraper” due to its innovative iron structure.

Other treasures on display include a collection of world-class decorative tiles at Jackfield, including designs by William de Morgan, Christopher Dresser and John Piper, and sculptures by John Bell at the Museum of Iron to promote artistic ability and engineering skills of the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1800s.

Two of the churches in Shropshire are also listed; St Michael the Archangel in Llanyblodwel with its unusual bell tower, wall decoration and commemorative WWI stained glass window and Tong, where a 400 year old embroidered pulpit falls [drape], recently preserved by the Royal School of Needlework, is now on display for the first time in over a century near the only gilded chapel with its fan-vaulted ceiling.

Rob said: “Shropshire has an incredible variety of treasures if you know where to find them.

“The book was released just as people are coming out of the lockdown, so I hope it gives people a reason to visit the area and explore.

“I’ve lived in the West Midlands all my life, but there are a lot of places I didn’t know.”

This book is illustrated with full color images throughout and includes up to date information for planning a visit – including maps of the area, how to get there, a website and contact details. It’s available from The Arts Society and costs £ 7 including postage and packaging. To order a copy, email inquiries@theartssociety.org


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