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Oswestry ( ) is a town and civil parish in Shropshiremarker, Englandmarker, close to the Welshmarker border. It is at the junction of the A5, A483, and A495 roads.

The town was the administrative headquarters of the Borough of Oswestrymarker until it was abolished on 1 April 2009 and is the third largest town in Shropshire, following Telfordmarker and Shrewsburymarker. The 2001 Census recorded the population of the civil parish as 15,613, the urban area as 16,660, and a 2008 estimate suggested that the latter figure had grown to 17,116. The town is known for its mixed Welsh and English heritage, and is the home of the Shropshire libraries' Welsh Collection.



The area has long been settled. Old Oswestrymarker is the site of a large Iron Age hill fort with evidence of occupation dating back to the 550s BC .

Saxon times

The Battle of Maserfieldmarker is thought to have been fought here in 642, between the Anglo-Saxon kings Penda and Oswald. Oswald was killed in this battle and was dismembered; according to a legend, one of his arms was carried to an ash tree by a bird, an eagle, and miracles were subsequently attributed to the tree (as Oswald was considered a saint). Thus it is believed that the name of the site derived from a reference to "Oswald's Tree". The spring Oswald's Well is supposed to have originated where the bird dropped the arm from the tree. Offa's Dykemarker runs nearby to the west.

The Conquest

Alan FitzFlaad (d. c1114), a Breton knight, was granted the feudal barony of Oswestry by King Henry I who, soon after his accession, invited Alan to England with other Breton friends, and gave him forfeited lands in Norfolk and Shropshiremarker, including some which had previously belonged to Ernoulf de Hesdin (killed at Antiochmarker while on crusade) and Robert de Belleme.

Alan's duties to the Crown included supervision of the Welsh border. He also founded Sporle Priory in Norfolk. He married Ada or Adeline, daughter of Ernoulf de Hesdin. Their eldest son William was made High Sheriff of Shropshire by King Stephen in 1137. He married a niece of Robert of Gloucester. But two of their younger sons, Walter and Simon, travelled to Scotland in the train of King David I, Walter becoming the first hereditary High Steward of Scotland and ancestor of the Stewart Royal Family.

Border town

The town, being very close to Wales, has many Welsh street and Welsh placenames and the town's name in Welsh is Croesoswallt, meaning Oswald's Cross. The Domesday Book records a castle being built by Rainald, a Norman Sheriff of Shropshire: (meaning "the work" in French) (which was reduced to a pile of rocks during the English Civil War), and the town changed hands between English and Welsh a number of times during the Middle Ages. In 1149 the castle was captured by Madog ap Maredudd, and remained in Welsh hands until 1157. Later, Oswestry was attacked by the forces of Welsh rebel leader Owain Glynd┼Ár during the early years of his rebellion against the English King Henry IV in 1400, it became known as Pentrepoeth or 'hot town' as it was burned and nearly totally destroyed by the Welsh. It eventually became known as Oswald's Tree in English, from which it's current name is derived.

Market town

Oswestry - Historic buildings in the town centre, October 2008.
In 1190 the town was granted the right to hold a market each Wednesday. After the foot and mouth outbreak in the late 1960s the animal market was moved out of the town centre. In the 1990s, a statue of a shepherd and sheep was installed in the market square as a memorial to the history of the market site. With the weekly influx of Welsh farmers the town folk were often bilingual. The town built walls for protection, but these were torn down by the Parliamentarians after they took the town after a brief siege on 22 June 1644, leaving only the Newgate Pillar visible today.


Park Hall, a mile east of the town was one of the most impressive Tudor buildings in the country. It was taken over by the Army in 1915 and used as a training camp. On 26 December 1918 it burnt to the ground following an electrical fault. The ruined hall and camp remained derelict between the wars. For decades following World War 2, Oswestry was a prominent military centre for Canadian troops, later British Royal Artillery and latterly, a very successful training centre for 16-18 year old Infantry Junior Leaders. This long and proud military connection came to an ignominious end in the mid-1970s, shortly after some local licensed wildfowlers were shot by the young military guard one winter's night, mistaken for an attacking IRA force, as the locals discharged their shotguns at some passing ducks.The area previously occupied by the Park Hall military camp is now mainly residential and agricultural land, with a small number of light industrial units.


Attractions in and around Oswestry include: Whittington Castlemarker (in nearby Whittingtonmarker), Shelf Bankmarker, and the Cambrian Railway Museum, located near the former station, itself now the Cambrian Visitor Centre (see Transport below). The town is famous for its high number of public houses per head of population; there are around 30 in the town today, many of which offer real ale. A story incorporating the names of all of the pubs once open in Oswestry can be found hanging on the walls of The Oak on Church Street.

St Oswald's Church, the parish church is almost 1,000 years old, with the Norman tower dating from 1085. There is a new window in the East nave designed by prestigious stained glass artist Jane Grey in 2004. There are also 12 other churches in the town, including a Welsh Presbyterian in Victoria Road.


Oswestry - The former station and Cambrian Railways headquarters, now the Cambrian Visitor Centre, October 2008.
Oswestry is located at the junction of the A5 with the A483 and A495. The A5 continues from Shrewsburymarker to the north, passing the town, before turning west near Chirkmarker and entering Walesmarker. Running near the town is a navigable section of the partially restored Montgomery Canal, which runs from Frankton Junction to Newtownmarker.

Oswestry no longer has an active railway, but it was once on the main line of the Cambrian Railways. However, the section from Whitchurchmarker to Welshpoolmarker (Buttington Junction), via Ellesmeremarker, Whittingtonmarker, Oswestry and Llanymynechmarker, closed in November 1964 in favour of the more viable alternative route via Shrewsburymarker, leaving only a short branch line of the former Great Western Railway from Gobowenmarker to continue to serve Oswestry until November 1966 (this branch had once run into a separate GWR Oswestry terminus, now long since disappeared: trains were switched to the main Cambrian station as early as July 1924). The main building of the Cambrian station is still a prominent landmark within the town centre, a large handsome edifice that had once housed the headquarters of the Cambrian Railways company. After restoration, this building was reopened as the Cambrian Visitor Centre in June 2006 but on 11 January 2008 closed due to the terms of the lease not being settled (it has since reopened). A single railway track, overgrown and rusting, still runs through the station; immediately to the south is the Cambrian Railway Museum, while a short distance to the north are former Cambrian Railways workshops, now occupied by a variety of industrial concerns. However, the nearest active station is at Gobowenmarker. Local railway preservation societies have plans to reinstate the line from Gobowen station (where it meets the mainline), through Oswestry and into Wales.

Bus services are mainly operated by Arriva Midlands and local independent Tanat Valley Coaches. Notable regular bus routes that link nearby villages and towns include:

2/2A Wrexham (via Gobowen or Weston Rhyn, Chirk & Ruabon).

53 Ifton Heath / Ellesmere (via Gobowen & St Martins).

60 Llanarmon DC / Glyn Ceiriog (via Gobowen & Chirk).

70 Shrewsbury (via Whittington, West Felton, Nesscliffe & Montford Bridge).

71 Four Crosses (via Morda, Llynclys & Llanymynech).

D71 Welshpool (via Morda, Llynclys, Llanymynech, Llandrinio & Guilsfield).
D78/D79 Llangynog (via Morda, Llynclys or Trefonen, Llangedwyn, Llanrhaeadr & Penybontfawr).

445 Llanfyllin (via Morda, Llynclys, Llanynynech & Llansantffraid).

449 Ellesmere (via Whittington & Welsh Frankton).

576 Shrewsbury (via Knockin, Kinnerley, Ruyton Xl Towns & Baschurch).


As well as numerous primary schools in or just outside Oswestry, there are two independent schools, Oswestry Schoolmarker and Moreton Hall, and a comprehensive, The Marches School and Technology Collegemarker. In addition, post-16 education is provided by Walford and North Shropshire Collegemarker.

The town also has a noted specialist orthopaedic hospital the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt in Gobowen.

Religious sites

Oswestry - St. Oswald's Parish Church, October 2008.
There are a number of places of worship in Oswestry. There are two Church of England churches, which are part of the Diocese of Lichfieldmarker - St. Oswald's Parish Church (a church since 640AD) and the Holy Trinity Parish Church, located on the corner of Roft Street, where it meets the Salop Road. The town of Oswestry and surrounding villages fall into the parish of Our Lady Help of Christians and St Oswald, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsburymarker.

There are two Methodist churches: the Horeb Church on Victoria Road and the Oswestry Methodist Church. Cornerstone Baptist, a Baptist church is on the corner of Lower Brook Street and Roft Street in a modern 1970s building. Other Nonconformist churches include the Albert Road Evangelical Church; the Carreg Llwyd Church, which was founded in 1964
and Cabin Lane Church - a plant from Carreg Llywd Church in 1980, to the eastern expansion of Oswestry.

Another church in the town is Christ Church, now United Reformed Church, but was formerly Congregationalist. Additionally, there is a Welsh-speaking church the Seion Church, and the Holy Anglican Church a Western Rite Anglican establishment. Coney Green is a Jehovah's Witness' church. The Religious Society of Friends also holds meetings in Oswestry.


The former local football club, Oswestry Town F.C., was one of the few Englishmarker teams to compete in the League of Wales. Oswestry Town folded due to financial difficulties in 2003 and merged with Total Network Solutions F.C. of Llansantffraidmarker, a village eight miles (13 km) away on the Welsh side of the border. Following the takeover of the club's sponsor in 2006, the club renamed itself as The New Saints They moved to the redeveloped Park Hall Stadiummarker on the outskirts of the town in September 2007.

Notable people


External links

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