Online Encyclopedia

SHIFNAL, or SHIFENAL

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 857 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SHIFNAL, or SHIFENAL, a market town in the Newport (N.). parliamentary division of Shropshire, England, 154 M. N.W. from London on the Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury line of the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901) 3321. The church of St Andrew is cruciform and full of fine details of late Norman, Early English and Decorated work. Trade is mainly agricultural, and cattle-fairs are held. There are large iron-works. The name of the town was Idsall when in 1591 a fund was raised by royal favour in Shropshire and neighbouring counties in order to rebuild it after a serious fire. Within 6 m. E. of Shifnal are Tong, Boscobel and the nunnery of White Ladies. Tong Castle shares with the castle of the same name in Kent the legend of the dealings of the Saxon Hengest with the British chieftain Vortigern. The medieval building was demolished late in the 18th century, and the present castle erected in mingled Gothic and Moorish styles. Tong church, of fine early Perpendicular work, contains a remarkable series of ornate tombs, mainly of the 15th and 16th centuries, to members of the Vernon and Stanley families, former owners of the castle. The Golden Chapel on the south side is rich late Perpendicular, with a roof of fan-tracery, showing signs of the original decoration in colours. The mansion of Boscobel is famous as the house in which Charles II. was concealed in 1651 after an adventurous journey from Worcester, where his arms had failed before those of Cromwell. The secret chamber which hid him is preserved, but he also found refuge in a tree of the forest which then surrounded Boscobel. A tree close to the house still bears the name of Charles's oak, but tradition goes no further than to assert that it grew from an acorn of the original tree. White Ladies was a Cistercian nunnery; and the slight remains are Norman. The pleasant wooded district was formerly part of Brewood Forest, which extended into Staffordshire.
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