And interweaved with its history, its spectacular scenery and architecture, are stories of fairies, magic, devils, hounds – of ghosts and tragic heroes.
Folklore is ever-present in Shropshire and it lives and breathes in the rolling hills and vast landscapes.
Amy Douglas, a storyteller from Bishop’s Castle, has spent much of her career keeping the oral tradition alive.
She is a published author, a founding member of the Tales at the Edge storytelling club and runs spoken word events in-and-around the county.
Just in time for Halloween, Amy has retold some of her favourite Shropshire legends, which have been handed down from generation to generation.
All of the following stories are available to read in full in Shropshire Folk Tales by Amy Douglas.
Visit thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/shropshire-folk-tales/9780752451558/ to purchase a copy.
Edric was an Anglo-Saxon nobleman who was around in the 11th century and held land and estates across Shropshire and Herefordshire.
“He’s an incredible hero with myth and legend connected to him,” Amy said. “He’s on par with Arthur, but he’s not very well known. But you can tell that it's such a powerful story. He’s this incredible mythic hero of The Marches.”
Known to be a great warrior, a leader and lover of his people, Edric led English rebellion against William the Conqueror during the Norman Conquest, which cost the French king dearly.
Out hunting in Clun Forest one day, Edric came across a group of women dancing barefoot on the grass. The woman at the centre, a fairy called Godda, caught the eye of Edric and he took her to be his bride.
Hearing of Edric’s new bride, William the Conqueror invited them both to a parley meeting. Not wanting to deprive such a beauty of her husband, William and Edric agreed to make peace.
However, Edric never bent the knee to the French king and is thought of as the only Anglo-Saxon noble never to do so.
After the disappearance of his fairy wife Godda, it has been said that Edric spent his last days in lamentation. He resides now under the Stiperstones, waiting patiently until England needs him once again.
Wild Edric also has connections to the Long Mynd, in Church Stretton. Sometimes taking the form of a large black dog who roams the heathland or as the leader of The Wild Hunt.
There have been many stories of sightings of The Wild Hunt over the years, Amy said.
Before the Second World War, one lady from Minsterley reported hearing the thundering of hooves, as she was doing her washing. She saw Edric coming towards her with six hounds.
The Wild Hunt lifted their heads to the sky and howled, signalling to people that the greatest threat during wartime would come from the skies.
The White Lady of Oteley
Oteley Hall is a grand estate located in Ellesmere, which overlooks The Mere.
While the present house was built in 1960, following the demolition of the previous build, the history of the site dates back to the early 19th century.
The daughter of Oteley Hall was said to be young and well-educated. Her father was keen to have her married to a man of suitable wealth, but the young woman had other ideas. She wished to marry her sweetheart – the stable boy – who was of no rank or station.
The pair met in secret and declared their love for each other. Soon after, they made plans to elope.
The young woman was to meet her lover at the boathouse ,where they would sneak away in the dead of night.
But the young woman’s father overheard their plans. With a gun under his arm, he was the one who met the stable boy that night – and shot him dead, his body falling into the boat.
Upstairs in her bedroom, the young woman heard the gunshot and raced down to the boatyard. She watched on as her father hurled the body into The Mere. Overcome by grief, the young woman waded out into the water after him.
The young woman continues to haunt Oteley Hall, unable to find peace. It is said that a ghostly figure is sometimes seen at the edge of The Mere and the lawns leading to the water.
Amy believes the most recent story relating to The White Lady’s Causeway, was during the Second World War, when two airmen vowed to investigate the causeway, but never resurfaced and their bodies were never found.
The Devil and The Stiperstones
In her book, Amy says “The Stiperstones is where all the bad things meet: witches, boggarts, ghosts, bogles' remnants – all presided over by The Devil himself.”
It began as a prophecy.
“The Stiperstones is the perfect place for Halloween,” Amy said. “The story of the Devil’s Chair is that there was a prophecy that if The Stiperstones fell then the world and Shropshire would be ruined.”
Hearing of this prophecy, the Devil used all his body weight to pound on the rocks. Repeating the motion over and over, harder, and harder, it made no difference and the rocks would not crack.
After a while, it is said the Devil’s heat moulded the rock into the shape of a chair around his body, now known as The Devil’s Chair.
Over the years, the rocks have remained firm. They act as a reminder to The Devil of his failure. Amy said that visitors to The Stiperstones would know if The Devil was in visit, by the shroud of mist around the chair. If the shroud is present, The Devil is sitting on his throne.
Amy runs storytelling and poetry sessions as ‘Words at the Edge’ at Wenlock Pottery, Old Chapel House, Sheinton Street, on every second Monday of the month. The next meeting will take place at 8pm on November 14.
She also runs BLAST! – a monthly storytelling performance series in Bishop’s Castle. The next session will take place on Friday, November 18.
To find out more about Amy’s work, her podcasts or upcoming sessions, visit amydouglas.com/.