We do not associate the Western Marches with industry, but the Stiperstones area around Minsterley, southwest of Shrewsbury, had rich lead deposits, with mining going back to the early Roman settlement, and mining continued for nearly two millennia, only dying out in the early 20th c. Many traces remain on the ground. The churches are generally homely stone constructions, so Minsterley comes as a shock. Britain rarely does Baroque, though there are conspicuous successes like Great Witley church (ND May 2007). The building is largely of brick, though with some possibly-reused stone. The façade’s the big thing, with a weather-boarded bell-stage atop the brick and stone West front, and decoration including cherubs’ heads.

The church was designed by William Taylor of London for Thomas Thynne, the First Viscount Weymouth. Though they had their base in the south, some members of the family lived in Shropshire, first at Caus Castle, and then at Minsterley Hall. At that time Taylor was working for Viscount Weymouth at Longleat, but local craftsmen were employed – contracts were made in 1688 with two Shrewsbury men, Thomas Hudson as foreman-bricklayer and Joseph Meatcham for the woodwork, including the gallery and pews, and the church was complete the following year, though not consecrated until 1692.

The Victorian restoration (1870) removed many original features, including the pews, though the font, gallery and pulpit, with a fine sounding board, remain. Another change of seating looks imminent. 


Map Reference: SJ374051

Simon Cotton