Holiday cottage plan for historic Shrewsbury property

Plans to convert a historic National Trust-owned property into a holiday cottage will include a special architect to watch out for archaeological discoveries.

Town Walls Tower in Shrewsbury is being converted into a holiday cottage
Town Walls Tower in Shrewsbury is being converted into a holiday cottage

The National Trust is planning to convert Town Walls Tower in Shrewsbury into a holiday let.

The building is the last existing example of the defences which would have surrounded the town in the 14th century.

The heritage organisation was given approval for the plans by Shropshire Council earlier this year.

The building was occupied by tenants, and primarily used for storage, before the idea to turn it into a holiday let.

As part of the proposal the National Trust has now set out plans for a specially appointed architect to have a watching brief over work at the building – to make sure any archaeological finds are appropriately looked after.

Town Walls is one of Shrewsbury's most important historic settings, and dates back to 1220.

Mark Agnew, general manager at Town Walls Tower, said that they had previously held open days at the building, and plan to do so in the future.

He said: "The National Trust is currently undertaking conservation and refurbishment work on Town Walls Tower in Shrewsbury, to create a one-bedroom holiday cottage.

"The work to the medieval watch tower will bring this historic building back into regular use, as well as generating vital income to continue to care for it.

“As a conservation charity the National Trust will preserve the historical features and appearance of Town Walls Tower, with no structural changes to the building in-order to complete the conversion, and no visual changes to the exterior of the building.

“The trust has also commissioned an external architect to undertake a watching brief as the work takes place, to ensure no archaeological features or artefacts are unearthed, and if so, are carefully identified and cared for.

“Over recent years the tower has been leased to tenants, and primarily used for storage.

"The National Trust has historically held six-to-eight visitor open days throughout each year, with limited capacity due to the small nature of the building. These opening arrangements will continue, to allow interested people the chance to see inside this piece of Shrewsbury’s history.”

Town Walls Tower is evidence of Shrewsbury's history as a strategically important settlement close to the border with Wales.

It formed a key part of the defensive walls that once surrounded the town and is now the last surviving example of those defences.

The building of Shrewsbury’s perimeter walls dates to 1220 and 1242.

Henry III issued a royal mandate urging the ‘men of Salop’ to fortify the town, and grants for building walls were made during his reign.

The king visited Shrewsbury on several occasions, pursuing his campaign against the Welsh forces.

By the 14th century the walls had fallen derelict, and Henry IV commissioned further rebuilding.

Town Walls Tower was probably added during this time, when the town was at risk from attack.

A map of 1575 shows the town almost fully encircled by walls featuring several similar towers.

Once it ceased to have a defensive purpose, Town Walls Tower was leased out to local people.

In the past 200 years it was the workshop of a watchmaker, John Massey in 1816, and was converted into a coachman's dwelling in the 1860s.

The National Trust acquired it in 1930 and the tower was last occupied in the 1980s.

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