WALK | Walking Through the Battlefield of Shrewsbury from 1403 | Shropshire
A Walk Around the Former Battle of Shrewsbury From 1403
Take a walk on the 1 1/2 mile journey around the former battlefield of Shrewsbury which took place in 1403
Explore the mound with a view over the fields towards the Battlefield Church and venture further on the paths which take you on a circular route through quiet Shropshire fields
Take in the old church of Battlefield and meander the pathways through fields with pretty views
"...an old battleground which still exists in perfect escape from Shrewsbury..."
There is a sense of the battlefield here. But it takes some imagination. For this place, the former battlefield for the Battle of Shrewsbury has by first viewing been taken over by dogwalkers. Given its closeness to Shrewsbury and its easy field walking, there is no surprise why many locals would come here particularly as it has a carpark for use just off the roundabout on the north side of Shrewsbury town easily navigated by the brown signs. But much as this might be turnoff for some people, it is worth looking a little closer at this landscape.
Beyond the dog walkers is a short walk of about 1½ miles in length which takes you around the former battlefield for the Battle of Shrewsbury. It takes a meander from a mound sighting the entire battlefield down a specific gravelled path between open countryside and fields heading in the direction of the wonderfully named Battlefield church. Past the old fish ponds and back through open fields to the beginning.
So why is this place important? Well on 21st July 1403, a vast English battle took place. Fought between two sides that had previously been on the same side, it was a classic case of who was now in power versus who should be in power.
The Percy family of Northumberland have always been enormously important in power and influence. Guiding, supporting and fighting for their chosen support. Henry Bolingbroke made a deal with the Percy family to seize the throne from his cousin Richard II in 1309. Promises were made – wealth, power, position. But King Henry IV as he was crowned, failed to follow through. Upset caused and money owing, the Percys went to war with the new king.
Step forward Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, the son of the Lord. Talented soldier, he had been rewarded with lands in Wales from where he had been fighting the Welsh freedom fighter Owain Glyndwr. In a complete turnabout Hotspur together with the now supported Earl of March with tacit support from Glyndwr and Edward Mortimer fought Henry IV at Shrewsbury.
As it turned out, the result was hugely influenced by who arrived first. Under huge pressure, Henry IV got there ahead of Hotspur. It meant that the rebels were forced to take a position to the north of Shrewsbury isolated from further Welsh support and backup.
The battleground at Shrewsbury is hugely significant because it remains undeveloped despite the battle taking place over six hundred years ago. That day in 1403, the battle pitted expert infantry and longbow archers against each other. The longbow was the impressive weaponry of the day. The air must have been alive with the sound of arrows flighting. The sound of men painfully dying on the battlefield in their thousands.
The result was a victory for King Henry IV. Hotspur was killed in a charge on the King himself. Henry IV acted to assert his power. Hotspur’s body was dug up – drawn and quartered, sent to the four parts of the country including York itself. A message to all-comers.
Henry IV ordered a memorial chapel be built over the mass grave on the battlefield. Over time it was then replaced by a church. That church is Battlefield Church now operated by the Churches Conservation Trust.
The Battlefield Walk is in the shadow of the lands which held an epic battle. There is a battlefield centre locally to the church. But the walk gives you a glimpse of this landscape, a nod to the ghosts of men who once fought on these lands for power and prestige; and for the throne of England amid flights of arrows. There might be a dog or two in sight but it is worth an appreciation that this battleground still exists as land. Land which was soaked in the blood of men fighting for Kingship.
Directions and Map |
Find the Battlefield Trail off the Battlefield Heritage Park just north of Shrewsbury in Shropshire