Shifnal is a small market town in Shropshire
Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. It borders Wales to the west...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It forms part of The Wrekin constituency
The Wrekin
The Wrekin is a hill in east Shropshire, England. It is located some west of Telford, on the border between the unitary authorities of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. Rising to a height of above the Shropshire Plain, it is a prominent and well-known landmark, marking the entrance to Shropshire...

, and is about 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Telford
Telford is a large new town in the borough of Telford and Wrekin and ceremonial county of Shropshire, England, approximately east of Shrewsbury, and west of Birmingham...

. It has a railway station
Shifnal railway station
Shifnal railway station is a station on the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line serving the town of Shifnal in Shropshire, England. Trains are about hourly off-peak....

 on the Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton Line and is near to the M54 motorway
M54 motorway
The M54 is a 23 mile east-west motorway in the English counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire. It is also referred to as the Telford Motorway, after the road's primary westbound destination, the new town of Telford...


Early medieval time

The town, also once known as "Idsall", most probably began as an Anglian
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 settlement, established by the end of the 7th century.

Shifnal is thought to be the place named "Scuffanhalch", in a 9th century charter, as a possession of the monastery at Medeshamstede
Medeshamstede was the name of Peterborough in the Anglo-Saxon period. It was the site of a monastery founded around the middle of the 7th century, which was an important feature in the kingdom of Mercia from the outset. Little is known of its founder and first abbot, Sexwulf, though he was himself...

 (later Peterborough Abbey). Though this seems a dubious claim, and the ancient charter is in fact a 12th century forgery, the full picture is more complex. Sir Frank Stenton
Frank Stenton
Sir Frank Merry Stenton was a 20th century historian of Anglo-Saxon England, and president of the Royal Historical Society . He was the author of Anglo-Saxon England, a volume of the Oxford History of England, first published in 1943 and widely considered a classic history of the period...

 considered that "Scuffanhalch", along with "Costesford" (Cosford
Cosford is the name of several places in England*Cosford, Shropshire**DCAE Cosford, formally RAF Cosford**Royal Air Force Museum Cosford*Cosford, Suffolk*Cosford, Warwickshire...

) and "Stretford", formed part of a list of places which had once been connected with Medeshamstede; and the charter purports to have been issued by King Æthelred of Mercia, during much of whose reign the bishop of Mercia
Bishop of Lichfield
The Bishop of Lichfield is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Lichfield in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 4,516 km² of the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands. The bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral Church of the Blessed...

 was Sexwulf
Seaxwulf was the founding abbot of the Mercian monastery of Medeshamstede, and an early medieval bishop of Mercia. Very little is known of him beyond these details, drawn from sources such as Bede's Ecclesiastical History...

 (or "Saxwulf"), founder and first abbot of Medeshamstede.

The first part of the name "Shifnal" is reckoned to be a personal name, "Scuffa", while the second part, from "halh", means a valley, thus describing the topography of the town's location.

Unusually the name of the town has alternated through the centuries between Idsall and Shifnal. Idsall is mentioned in a 9th century charter as "Iddeshale", meaning "Idi's nook" or corner. A nook is said to be an area of land of approximately 20 acres (80,937.2 m²). It is often conjectured that the two names of Idsall and Shifnal were names of settlements on the east and west sides respectively of Wesley Brook, a stream which runs through the town, and is a tributary of the River Worfe. In the 19th century, J. C. Anderson, in his "Shropshire its Early History and Antiquities", wrote that Idsall means "Hall of Ide", and that Shifnal is "Hall of Sceafa".

“A Key to English Place-names” has an entry for Shifnal that reads '*Scuffa's nook of land'. It was also known as Iddeshale, '*Idi's nook of land'.

The oldest part of the town is said to be the area around St Andrews Church, Church Street and Innage Road where excavations have turned up evidence of ancient buildings.


The village, as it would have been in 1086, is recorded in the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

. The initial part of the entry states:

Robert, son of Theobald, holds of Earl Roger Iteshale. Earl Morcar held it."

This entry records that possession was lost by the Saxon Earl Morcar when he rebelled against the Norman
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...


The church of St Andrews has a Norman
Norman architecture
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...

 chancel and was almost certainly built on the site of an earlier bum church. It was a collegiate church
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

 or Minster with a chapter of priests administering to the needs of congregations in outlying settlements. St Andrews lost its collegiate status when it was given to Shrewsbury Abbey
Shrewsbury Abbey
The Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly known as Shrewsbury Abbey, was a Benedictine monastery founded in 1083 by the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger de Montgomery, in Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire, England.-Background:...

 c. 1087.

Plantagenet period

Walter de Dunstanville the lord of the manor, applied in 1245, to King Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 and was granted a market charter for the town. Walter then laid out a broad market street that is Broadway, Bradford Street, Market Place and Park Street for the purpose of holding markets. This area to the east of the stream was known as Shifnal and gradually it was this name that superseded Idsall as the town's name.

Tudor times

Shifnal had something of an early industrial revolution during the later half of the 16th century with the construction of a charcoal fired blast furnace
Blast furnace
A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

 near to the Manor House.

A fire swept through the town on July 7, 1591, setting alight the roof of the church. The fire devastated many, if not all, of the buildings east of the stream now known as Wesley Brook. The church and the timber framed Old Idsall House (a listed building), at its foot to the east are said to be the only two buildings to have survived the fire that destroyed the rest of the settlement. This information is now commemorated by a blue plaque fixed to the wall of the house. The fire is thought to have been started by a maid servant's candle that accidentally set fire to some hanging flax
Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

. After the fire, Elizabeth I sent money to help rebuild the town.

18th and 19th centuries

Thomas Beddoes a well-known physician of his day was born in 1760 at Balcony House, named owing to a room projecting above the roof line, on the east side of Market Place. This building later became the Star Hotel.

A Baptist church was established in Aston Street at the end of the 18th century but it closed down before the 20th century.

Thomas Telford
Thomas Telford
Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder.-Early career:...

 upgraded Watling Street
Watling Street
Watling Street is the name given to an ancient trackway in England and Wales that was first used by the Britons mainly between the modern cities of Canterbury and St Albans. The Romans later paved the route, part of which is identified on the Antonine Itinerary as Iter III: "Item a Londinio ad...

 the turnpike road that passed through the town in the late 18th century. This road carried traffic from London to Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

, Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

 and Holyhead
Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the North Wales. It is also a major port adjacent to the Irish Sea serving Ireland....

 for Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. It is reported that as many as 18 coaches a day called at Shifnal. Passengers were provided with respite from their travels by three coaching inns the Jerningham Arms, The Star Hotel and The Unicorn.

It is during this period of prosperity that many new houses were built lending Shifnal a Georgian
Georgian era
The Georgian era is a period of British history which takes its name from, and is normally defined as spanning the reigns of, the first four Hanoverian kings of Great Britain : George I, George II, George III and George IV...

 air. The name Idsall was still used to distinguish the area around the St Andrews Church and the Manor from the market and commercial area of Shifnal.

The railway line from London and Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 to Holyhead
Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the North Wales. It is also a major port adjacent to the Irish Sea serving Ireland....

 was constructed through Shifnal at high-level in the late 1840s. A station was provided but the opening of the line on November 12, 1849, brought an abrupt end to the already declining trade in coaching traffic. The viaducts constructed were cast by Horseley Ironworks
Horseley Ironworks
The Horseley Ironworks was a major ironworks in the Tipton area in the county of Staffordshire, now the West Midlands, England....


The 20th century

The Star Hotel was demolished after a fire in 1911 being replaced by a public house known as the Eight Bells or Ring of Bells. Today the building is occupied by The Odfellows Wine Bar.

The railway bridge over Market Place was rebuilt in 1953 that saw the open spandrel
A spandrel, less often spandril or splaundrel, is the space between two arches or between an arch and a rectangular enclosure....

s of the original arch replaced with a dourer flat panel construction.

The town continued to expand notably during the 1960s.

The town's branch of Barclays Bank was targeted by robbers on 6 May 1991. They drilled into the strongroom and escaped with £50,000.


There are several pre-school nursery and day centres in the town, as well as two primary schools: Shifnal Primary School, on Curriers Lane; and St. Andrew's Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 Primary School, on Park Lane. The town has two further schools, Idsall School
Idsall School
Idsall School is a comprehensive secondary school with Sports College status located in the small town of Shifnal in Shropshire, England. Idsall has its own Sixth Form Centre, which offers a range of A Level subjects.-The House Cup:...

, in Coppice Green, a comprehensive secondary school; and Young Options College, in Lanledge Lane, an independent specialist secondary school.

Notable people

Thomas Beddoes
Thomas Beddoes
Thomas Beddoes , English physician and scientific writer, was born at Shifnal in Shropshire. He was a reforming practitioner and teacher of medicine, and an associate of leading scientific figures. Beddoes was a friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and, according to E. S...

 was born in Shifnal, in 1760, in Balcony House. He became professor of chemistry at Oxford University, as recorded in "Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 22, No. 1/2 (Sep., 1967), pp. 131-143".


Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

, whose grandmother was reputedly employed at nearby Tong Castle, visited the town on several occasions and many believe that the buildings in his book, The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel by Charles Dickens. The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London....

, were based on those in the town. The Shifnal Historical Society report that he was very taken with the architecture of the town, and for that reason, he based The Old Curiosity Shop on The Unicorn Public House, now known as Naughty Nell's. It is widely believed that Shifnal was the origin of P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE was an English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be...

's fictional town Market Blandings
P. G. Wodehouse locations
The following is an incomplete compendium of the fictional locations featured in the stories of P. G. Wodehouse, in alphabetical order by place name.-The Angler's Rest:...


In the 1968 Shifnal Carnival was launched, a revival of the Shifnal Club Day - itself deriving from an annual parade by the 'Dove Club' friendly society
Friendly society
A friendly society is a mutual association for insurance, pensions or savings and loan-like purposes, or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose...

. Taking place on the last Saturday of June, a funfair is set up on the main street, as well as the usual procession.

In 2010, after research as part of the town plan, The Shifnal Festival
Shifnal Festival
The Shifnal Festival is an annual Music, Arts and Culture Festival held in the market town of Shifnal each year.-History:Little is known about the origins of the festival. A book published in 1904 by Harold Sadler suggests the festival was a local event held in the grounds of Aston Hall to the...

 was revived due to residents expressing interest for a festival of arts, culture and entertainment.


  • Church of England: St Andrews' Church on Church Street has a Norman chancel with an Elizabethan double-hammerbeam roof and was almost certainly built on the site of an older Saxon church.
  • Methodist: Trinity Church, Victoria Road
  • Roman Catholic: St Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury Road

It also has, through Churches Together in Shifnal, its own Christian bookshop and drop-in centre, Oasis.

Communal services

A community library run by the council is located on Broadway.
The Millennium Sensory Garden lies between St Andrews' Church and Innage Road and contains the town's war memorial. The garden is voluntarily maintained by a dedicated group of committee members and friends and obtained The Queen's Golden Jubilee Award 2003 and Green Pennant Award 2007/2008.
Shifnal Police Station is located behind the library on Broadway.

Pubs, restaurants and hotels

Naughty Nell's public house, a restored 16th century coaching inn, originally known as the Unicorn, claims to have been the home of Nell Gwyn
Nell Gwyn
Eleanor "Nell" Gwyn was a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England. Called "pretty, witty Nell" by Samuel Pepys, she has been regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of...

 and her renowned bedchamber. It had been known by her name itself for some time.


There are several sporting facilities in Shifnal, including the Idsall Sports Centre, which is attached to Idsall School
Idsall School
Idsall School is a comprehensive secondary school with Sports College status located in the small town of Shifnal in Shropshire, England. Idsall has its own Sixth Form Centre, which offers a range of A Level subjects.-The House Cup:...

; the school, in the past, receiving a number of prominent football celebrities from the nearby FA School of Excellence
The Football Association
The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association...

 at Lilleshall
Lilleshall is a village in Shropshire, England.It lies between the towns of Telford and Newport, on the A518, in the Telford and Wrekin borough and the Wrekin constituency....


The town is also home to sporting clubs which play sports including:
  • ice hockey
  • rugby
  • football
  • tennis
  • cricket

The town is also a stronghold for supporters of Wolverhampton Wanderers with a bus travelling to all Wolves away games picking up at Shifnal, see

Shifnal Town F.C.
Shifnal Town F.C.
Shifnal Town F.C. is a football club based in Shifnal, Shropshire, England. They have reached the 4th round of the FA Vase three times in their history...

 currently has a place in the West Midlands (Regional) League, whilst Shifnal United are in the lower Shropshire County Premier Football League
Shropshire County Premier Football League
The Shropshire County Premier Football League is an English association football league based in the county of Shropshire...

. There are also teams for younger players: Shifnal Town Europeans Junior Football Club and Shifnal Harriers, who split from Shifnal Europeans in 2007 and play in the Telford Combination.

Shifnal was formerly home to a squash club and swimming pool for 35 years, but this has since closed, and following its demolition has been replaced with a housing development.

External links

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