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Published: November 15th 2019
Our first Valentines together and I buy my girlfriend, Fiona, a 2 night hotel stay on Buyagift.co.uk for a romantic getaway where you can select a hotel of your choice in many counties all over the UK. Picking where to stay wasn't too difficult and we decide on Ironbridge in Shropshire as our destination because neither of us have been there before and seems an interesting area to visit due to it's strong connection with the Victorian era.
Shropshire is a county in England but it borders with Wales. Although known as one of England's quietest counties there still seems to be plenty to do and see with many historic houses, castles, museums and of course the famous Iron bridge
After a 2 hour car journey from Berkshire, we arrive at our hotel in Ironbridge. We are super excited at spending some quality time together and the opportunity of exploring a new place. After checking in, we decide to take a stroll into the centre of Ironbridge.
The walk very pleasant as we scroll along the River Severn
, which is Britain's longest river. In the distance we can see the famous Iron bridge
as we decide to visit
the Museum of the Gorge
. We discover for £25 you can buy an annual passport which allows you to visit all museums and attractions in Ironbridge for a whole year. We learn that the industrial revolution first started here. The great Quaker Ironmaster, Abraham Darby I, discovered the secret to smelting iron with cheap and plentiful coke instead of expensive and less efficient charcoal. The museum also houses fine china, decorative tiles and Victorian artefacts.
Afterwards we carry on strolling along the River Severn
and up to the famous Iron bridge
. This is the world's first iron bridge and was erected over the river in 1779 and marked a turning point in English design and engineering as cast iron came to be widely used for constructing bridges and buildings. I enjoy taking photos of the bridge from different angles whilst admiring the picturesque, calming views while trying to imagine how busy it would have been back in 1779 when the river was used for transporting iron as well as other goods.
The next day we visit Blists Hill Victorian Town
, which is a recreated Victorian town and is included in the annual passport. The Victorian era is most
arguably Britain's most powerful eras at a time when Britain pretty much ruled the world. Blists Hill Victorian Town
takes you back to that era where people act as real Victorians in authentic shops, factories and homes. We even manage to exchange today's money for coins from the Victorian era, which you can use anywhere in the Victorian town.
In the Victorian era there was a shop for everything, not like in today's world were supermarkets pretty much sell anything you need. We think about where we will spend our money with my eyes wondering towards the sweet shop, but the queue is rather off putting, so we visit all other shops with the plan to spend any leftover change at the sweet shop.
We enjoy visiting each shop, but the sweet smell of freshly baked bread really excites us. We buy some Cinnamon Rolls and they taste delicious. You can't beat freshly baked bread or cakes!!
The Victorian town literally has everything here from shops to factories, horse and cart to steam trains or houses to a school. The school is quite an experience though with our teacher being very strict. Visitors can visit the school
for a real-life classroom experience. Once we enter the classroom, the first thing the teacher does is check our finger nails. Fiona gets told off for wearing nail polish. The teacher has a cane stick and is not afraid to wave it in the direction of his students; back in the Victoria era, children would frequently be hit or beaten by this stick. We get to experience how children would study using a small chalkboard and chalk and we have to sing songs, including "God save the Queen" not the current Queen Elizabeth II, but Queen Victoria of course.
There really is so much to see and do here and we particularly enjoy visiting houses where people re-enact how the Victorians would live in their homes. The people are friendly and very good at acting the part. One family even offer us some Nettle Soup.
After our visit at Blists Hill Victorian Town
, we detour and visit Buildwas Abbey
. The remains of a Cistercian Abbey (Understand this is a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns who branched off and followed rule of St. Benedict) which has an impressive and unaltered 12th century church. I enjoy taking photos
of old buildings as I feel broken remains or leftover ruins can add real character to a picture and it tells a story.
We then decide to detour slightly further away from Ironbridge and head down to Much Wenlock. Off the beaten track, but worth a visit to this beautiful medieval town. Much Wenlock has been a market town for over 700 years and the architecture is of Georgian and Victorian. We head to Wenlock Priory
and I get trigger happy with my camera at this picturesque setting of the priory ruins.
An Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded here in about 680 by King Merewalh of Mercia. His daughter, Milburge, was hailed a saint and her relics were miraculously re-discovered in 1101, which resulted in attracting both pilgrims and the prosperity of the priory.Wenlock was re-founded by the Normans as a priory for monks and its impressive remains still survive today and parts of the 13th century church still stand relatively high.
Evening time, we head out for a date night in Ironbridge and dine in at a nearby pub called the Swan Hotel
which is not far from our hotel. We have nachos to share which are
served in one of them metal camping cooking tins and for main we both go for a dirty burger with sweet potato fries. Afterwards, we stroll up to the Iron Bridge
and enjoy seeing it lit up and find a quirky cocktail bar called Cleo's
offering 2 for 1.
It's our last day in Ironbridge and so we check out of the hotel and get the car loaded with our baggage but we're in no rush to head straight home and want to take advantage of the annual passport that allows us to see many museums/attractions nearby. Taking the car we decide to visit the Coalport China Museum
first. Coalport China Museum
was a famous factory until it closed back in the 1920's and is well preserved and built along side the River Severn
and an old canal which makes it rather picturesque. The factory has so much beautiful china on display; in fact the china was even made for Queen Victoria, so definitely fit for a queen. The Victorians loved their tea and even to this day we Brits love tea but back in the Victorian era they were very fond of having good quality and beautiful
china cups and teapots.
Nearby to the Coalport China Museum
is the Tar Tunnel
and is just a short walk along the old canal. Annoyingly the Tar Tunnel
is closed due to health and safety reasons but the shop is still open and they let us see the entrance to the tunnel.
Next we visit the Jackfield Tile Museum
which is a short drive but on the over side of the river. This tile museum was at its best between 1840 and 1960. This place stopped manufacturing tiles because Craven Dunnill decided to move their business up north but the same company started to make them again here from 2001, with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum owning the factory.
There are so many tiles to look at with so much attention to detail. The tiles have been used for many locations, most famously the London Underground.
Before we leave to go home we stop off one last time in the centre of Ironbridge for a cream tea at Tea Emporium
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