Grinshill and Clive, Shropshire
PUBLISHED: 20:46 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:11 20 February 2013
Snuggled beneath the steep, thickly wooded slopes of Grinshill, the settlement of the same name has its roots in Neolithic times. Jan Johnstone visited Grinshill and its neighbour, Clive, to get a more modern take. Photography Adrian Jones.
The attractive little village of Grinshill is situated just a few miles north of Shropshire's county town of Shrewsbury and lies nestled safely beneath the steep, thickly wooded slopes of Grinshill Hill.
For the energetic it is well worth taking a walk through the woods to the top of the hill some 630 feet above sea level, for once at the top you will be rewarded with amazing views, not only of the village below but also across the Shropshire Plain. The Wrekin, the Clee Hills, Haughmond, Stretton Hills, the Stiperstones, the Berwyns in North Wales and even Maiden Castle in Cheshire, all can be seen clearly when the day is bright and sunny and good visibility allows.
The long, sandstone ridge was laid down some 240 million years ago and the Grinshill stone taken from the quarry was well known not only for its durability but also as one of the finest building materials available with colours ranging from the palest of creams to a deep, rich red. Stone is known to have been quarried for well over 900 years with huge blocks even being manhandled by workers to the Roman city of Viroconium at Wroxeter a good ten miles away. In the 1780's the Georgian architect George Steuart chose stone from the Grinshill quarries to use when realising his grand design for Attingham Hall built for the first Lord Berwick.
Grinshill stone has also been used extensively in other parts of the country, in the building of churches, schools, bridges and fine buildings such as Chequers, the Prime Minister's residence. In the 17th century it was even exported as far afield as Virginia in America and it is mainly because of this lucrative trade that the village was established with labourers moving in to work in the quarries.
Today, there is still a quarry producing stone which lies adjacent to those from an earlier age. Old quarries now no longer in use form part of an area that has been declared an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and geologists have made numerous interesting finds over the past years many of which are now housed with the Shrewsbury Museum Service.
A narrow street winds through the centre of the small village of Grinshill and along its route there are a variety of attractive buildings such as the Jacobean Stone Grange built in 1617. Overlooking the cricket field it was once known as the Pest House and was intended as a retreat for pupils and staff from Shrewsbury School who at the time were housed on the site where the town Library now stands. When the sweating sickness visited the streets of the county town boys and masters would beat a hasty retreat to Grinshill until the danger had passed and it was safe to return.
The church of All Saints was built between 1839 and 1840 replacing much earlier religious buildings which had occupied the same site for many hundreds of years. Constructed in the local red sandstone it has an Italianate look with its narrow square tower. Inside, the oak screen, pulpit and pew ends were hand carved by the Misses Wright, sisters of a former vicar. Look out for the quirky gargoyles decorating the church tower and the imposing tombs that crowd together in the churchyard. The vicarage is adjacent to the church and was built in 1838, not surprisingly; it too is built of local stone.
Situated not far from the Church is the village hall built in 1862. It once served the community as a school until superceded by the building of a larger educational facility in nearby Clive. Today it is the hub of the village and far from redundant being put to many and varied uses by the local people.
A 17th century manor house stands to the east of the Church and is a fine example of its time as is the later 18th century black and white half-timbered Step House. Higher House, again east of the church, lives up to its name with its elevated position.
The Inn at Grinshill is situated in the High Street and is overlooked by Corbet Wood rising high above it. Built in the classic Georgian style it was once known as the Elephant and Castle, its sign being the crest of the Corbets, a well-known Shropshire family. In November 2002 under new ownership it changed its name. Today the old name is still retained in the Elephant and Castle bar.
Leading from the village up onto the hill are several access footpaths easy at first before getting progressively steeper. For those who don't mind the climb Grinshill Hill with its old quarries and Corbet Wood, designated in 2006 as a local nature reserve with its numerous varieties of animals and birds offers nature lovers a unique opportunity for not only watching wildlife but also enjoying the beauties of the Shropshire countryside.
Not a stone's throw away and just down the road from Grinshill is the charming little village of Clive. Centuries ago when it was first established it was known as Clif, an old English word literally meaning 'a cliff'. Here too most of the buildings are constructed from stone quarried at Grinshill.
Clive Hall, one of the villages more imposing buildings, is a timber framed Elizabethan house incorporating the red brick herringbone pattern much in favour at the time it was built. The Hall was once the home of William Wycherley born there in 1640. Wycherley went on to become a somewhat notorious playwright in the flamboyant Restoration court of Charles II and was infamous for two things, namely being in debt and rarely out of trouble!
William Wycherley died in 1716 and his grave can be found in the churchyard of All Saints Church, a Norman Church the building of which commenced in the 12th century. The Church has registers dating back to the 16th century, now kept in Shrewsbury museum, and like its near neighbour in Grinshill, it too underwent a major re-build between 1885 and 1894. The unusually tall tower and spire of the church, with its 'improvements' added in the Victorian era, can be seen for miles and has become a well-known landmark for Shropshire people.
Clive's old school house, now in private hands, was built in 1873 and is still reached by a steep path named The Glat. It must have been quite a climb for its former pupils who had to trudge up and down it each day.
Visitors who are strangers to the village may be surprised to learn that beneath Clive is a network of tunnels. The tunnels are all that remains of the old copper mines which at one time provided ample work in the area. As with the stone, copper too has been extracted in the area since Roman times with the industry continuing right up until 1886 when the mines were finally closed.
If you want to experience two of Shropshire's villages where there is still a sense of community why not visit Grinshill and Clive and take a look around. I think you will agree that they have a lot to offer the visitor including what must surely be one of the best views in the county.