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Shropshire's hidden treasures explored in Arts Society book

Three Shropshire arts societies have joined together with 14 others across the West Midlands to compile a book of 50 hidden treasures.

Rob Hubbleday, the chairman of The Arts Society West Midlands, at The Wrekin
Rob Hubbleday, the chairman of The Arts Society West Midlands, at The Wrekin

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

As part of the national Arts Society golden anniversary celebrations, each society was tasked with creating a guide book of hidden treasures from their area.

Arts Society members were invited to suggest lesser-known artistic 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 societies in the West Midlands of which three are based in Shropshire – Wrekin, Shrewsbury and Borders & Mid-Wales.

Rob Hubbleday, chair of The Arts Society West Midlands, said: "This idea was launched not realising there would be a Covid pandemic and a lockdown just as we went into asking 17 societies in the West Midlands to go out and photograph their hidden treasures.

Rob Hubbleday, the chairman of The Arts Society West Midlands, at The Wrekin

"But we managed to overcome it all and carry on when restrictions were eased. It did make life very difficult but on the other hand it gave us a focus and projects when we couldn't meet up together."

The hidden gems include one of Britain’s best preserved hill forts at Oswestry; the finest Roman mirror discovered in Britain at Wroxeter, now in Shrewsbury Museum; and the Flaxmill Maltings, under restoration and known as the ‘grandparent of the modern skyscraper’ because of its innovative iron frame.

Other treasures featured include a world class decorative tile collection at Jackfield, including designs by William de Morgan, Christopher Dresser and John Piper, and John Bell’s sculptures at the Museum of Iron to promote the artistic ability and engineering skill of the Coalbrookdale Company back in the 1800s.

Two of Shropshire’s churches also feature; St Michael the Archangel at Llanyblodwel with its unusual steeple, wall decoration and WWI commemorative stained glass window and Tong, where a 400-year-old embroidered pulpit fall [drape], recently conserved by the Royal School of Needlework, is now displayed for the first time in over a century near to the unique Golden Chapel with its fan vaulted ceiling.

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

"The book has been released just as people are coming out of lockdown so hopefully it will give people a reason to visit the area and explore.

"I have lived in the West Midlands all my life but there are lots of places that I didn't know about."

This book is illustrated with colour images throughout and includes up to date information to plan a visit – including area maps, access arrangements, websitea and contact details. It is available from The Arts Society and costs £7, including postage and packing. To order a copy email

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