The spire of St Mary’s is one of the tallest in England and for over 500 years it has dominated the skyline of Shrewsbury’s old town. In 1739, showman Robert Cadman attempted to slide from it, head first, using a rope and a grooved breastplate. His engraved obituary stands outside the west door.
The church is now the only complete medieval church in Shrewsbury. It dates from Saxon times and has beautiful additions from the twelfth-century onwards. Inside, the atmosphere is peaceful with the soaring stone arches giving way to the church’s great treasure – its stained glass. There are panels in glorious colour including the world-famous fourteenth-century ‘Jesse window’; filled with figures of Old Testament kings and prophets, and scenes from the life of St Bernard – a Medieval cartoon strip that shows him ridding flies from an abbey, riding a mule and curing the sick. No other church in the country has a collection to equal it.
Most of the glass was brought from elsewhere, much of it from Europe, by two remarkable clergymen, and installed in St Mary’s during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Warmth and richness is also provided by superb Victorian coloured tiles on the floor. Lifting your eyes upwards, you will see the wonderful fifteenth-century carved oak ceiling of the nave, with a profusion of animals, birds and angels.
Other details delight you wherever you look: an ancient font, Medieval stone carving on the arcades, interesting monuments. The beauty and variety of this church and its contents, all on a grand scale, blend into an uplifting and memorable whole.