A day out in Roman Shropshire
Wroxeter was one of the main Roman settlements in Britain- both as a troop camp and a major city. It is also one of the cities- like Silchester- that faded away as communication lines moved elsewhere and its importance dwindled. However, the Roman baths has been taken over by English heritage and is open as a historical monument. Near to it is Attingham House, an 18thC National Trust property with an extensive deer park.
Arriving from the Midlands on the M54/A5, take the Oswestry road (A49) at the Shrewsbury bypass roundabout. Cross the river and take the B4380 at the next roundabout. After 2 miles, cross the river again into Atcham. The village has the only church in England dedicated to St Eata. The original bridge was built by John Gwynne in 1781.
The road to Attingham Park is signposted from the village
Attingham Park was built in 1785 for the 1st Lord Berwick to the design of George Steuart and has a picture gallery by John Nash. The magnificent rooms contain collections of ambassadorial silver, Italian furniture and Grand Tour paintings. The park, landscaped by Repton, has attractive walks along the River Tern and a play area and environmental centre for children. Home Farm, run by NT tenants, is one of Britain's few completely organic open farms.
Wroxeter Roman City
Leave the park and return to Atcham. After just over a mile, there is a turning to the right. After three quarters of a mile, you will suddenly come to a turning for Wroxeter to your right. Take this turn, and the entrance to the Roman city is on the left.
Wroxeter (or 'Viroconium') was the fourth largest city in Roman Britain. It began as a legionary fortress and later developed into a thriving civilian city, populated by retired soldiers and traders. Though much still remains buried, today the most impressive features are the 2nd century municipal baths and the remains of the huge wall dividing them from the exercise hall in the heart of the city. There are self-guided audio tours available at the shop. Most of the stone from the town has probably been used to build the nearby church and farms in the modern village of Wroxeter. It is open Wed-Sunday all the year, and every day in Summer.
Leave the Roman city, and turn left towards the village. Go through it, past the church, and just as you reach the end of the village, turn left into the entrance of Wroxeter vineyard.
Wroxeter Roman Vineyard
Wroxeter was developed by the Millington family. The vines probably grow over part of the old Roman city, and the Roman bathhouse features on the bottle labels. The shop is open throughout the year (except Sunday morning) and has a wide range of wine, and of local beers. David Millingham featured in a dispute with the government as to whether Wine making (unlike cider making) was an industrial process and should be subject to industrial planning permission. His victory has benefitted vineyards throughout the country
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