The oldest parts of Shrewsbury Castle were built between 1067 and 1074, during the reign of William the Conqueror and, gradually rebuilt in stone, it became a major border fortress in the Middle Ages. The castle was built as a defensive fortification for the town, which was otherwise protected by the river. In 1138, King Stephen successfully besieged the castle held by William FitzAlan for the Empress Maud during the period known as The Anarchy. The castle was also briefly held by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, prince of Wales, in 1215. After the conquest of Wales by 1300, the Castle fell into disrepair but in the late 16th century it was revived to become a domestic residence. Refortified and briefly besieged during the Civil Wars (1642-51), the Castle was returned to a domestic use under Charles II. In the late 18th century Thomas Telford remodelled the Great Hall as a private house, which it remained until just after World War One.
Shrewsbury Castle houses the spectacular collections of the Shropshire Regimental Museum Trust including pictures, uniforms, medals, weapons and other equipment from the 18th Century to the present day. The 53rd Regiment of Foot was raised in 1755 by Colonel William Whitmore of Apley, Bridgnorth, an officer of the 3rd Foot Guards. It was part of an expansion of the British army in anticipation of war with France, which actually began in 1756. Originally designated as the 55th Regiment, it became the 53rd in 1757 following reductions in the army. During the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) the regiment served on Gibraltar, with occasional service at sea as marines. Recent research has identified officers and men of the 53rd aboard warships operating out of Gibraltar (e.g. aboard HMS Monmouth, on which a detachment of the 53rd was present in her epic ship-to-ship action with the French flagship Foudroyant.)
After garrison duty in Ireland, the 53rd sailed from Cork to take part in military operations in Canada at the outset of the American Revolutionary War. Sailing for Canada in 1776, it served in operations for the relief of Quebec and then joined General John Burgoyne’s army advancing into New England via the Hudson Valley. This was part of a projected three-prong attack on Albany from Oswiego, New York and Canada, but only Burgoyne's army actually progressed into New England, proceeding down the Hudson Valley. Taking part in the initial capture Fort Ticonderoga, the 53rd escaped most of "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne’s disastrous campaign further south, all but two companies being left behind to defend the fort and its outlying defences. The Light and Grenadier companies of the 53rd were, however, heavily engaged in Burgoyne's advance on Albany and subsequent defeat. With Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga in October 1777, the 53rd burned Fort Ticonderoga and its outlying defences on Mount Independence and retired to the Canadian frontier, where it remained until 1789. Whilst there, in 1782, the 53rd was designated “the Shropshire Regiment” and henceforth recruited in the county.
The 53rd played a distinguished part in the long French Wars (1793-1815). One of the first regiments to be ordered overseas, it served under the Duke of York in the Flanders campaign of 1793-95, earning its first battle honour “Nieuport” (which is unique to an infantry regiment) for the defence of the town. The 53rd left for the West Indies in 1796 and took part in the capture of St. Lucia and served on St.Vincent and in Trinidad. After a brief spell in England, the regiment sailed in 1805 for India where it served until 1823. Here it saw active service around Allahabad against rebels in the fortress of Kalingar and, more seriously, against the Gurkhas of Nepal in an arduous campaign between 1815-17. In the meantime, a war-raised 2nd Battalion of the 53rd served through the major stages of the Peninsular War in Portugal, Spain and France, including the battle of Talavera in 1809, the Salamanca campaign in 1812, the major victory at Vittoria in 1813 and the severe fighting in the passes of the Pyrenees. Pursuing the French army into France itself, the 2-53rd was present in the last great action of the war at Toulouse in 1814. At the end of the war in 1815, the 2-53rd was appointed to be Napoleon’s guard on St. Helena, a duty it carried out until its return home in 1817 and disbandment on the reduction of the army. Many of its men, however, volunteered for service in the 53rd and joined the regiment in India.
Access to the main hall, part of the ground floor, the shop and accessible toilet facilities is via portable ramps. Manual wheelchair users will require the assistance of an able pusher to access the inclined path up to the main hall entrance. Although every effort has been made to improve access for all visitors, a small percentage of the exhibits are not wheelchair accessible due to the historic nature of the building. Assistance dogs welcome, both within the Castle and its grounds. There is a linear walk around the castle grounds which is accessible for wheelchair users although some steeper slopes may require the assistance of an able pusher.
Location : Shrewsbury, Castle Court, Castle St, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 2AT
Transport: Shrewsbury (National Rail) 4 minutes. Bus Routes : 2, 24, 25, 64, 501, 511, 519, 524, 576 and X5 stop near by.
Opening Times : Closed Thursdays, otherwise 10:30 to 17:00 except Sunday closes at 16:00
Tickets : Adults £4.00; Seniors $3.00; Children (5+) £1.00
Guided Tours by arrangement: £25.00 per group
Tel: 01743 358516