Church StrettonChurch Stretton is a small town in Shropshire.
Local folklore recounts how the three Strettons got their name, here amusingly retold by Henry Thorncroft Timmins in Nooks and Corners of Shropshire (1899): "King Charles II (or was it James?), journeying one day towards Shrewsbury, came in due course to Little Stretton. 'How do you call this place?' inquired the Merrie Monarch. 'Stretton, an it please your Majesty,' was the countryman's reply. Little Stretton, methinks, were a fitter name for so small a place,' said the King; and set forth again towards Shrewsbury. Upon arriving at the next village, Charles again asked where he was. 'At Stretton, sire,' someone answered. Espying the parish church, whose bells were making music in the old grey steeple, his Majesty exclaimed: 'Call it rather Church Stretton,' and went his way once more. Finally the King came to All Stretton, and being again informed he was at Stretton, 'Stretton!' cried Charles in astonishment, 'why, it's All Stretton about here!'"
Church Stretton is the largest of three settlements in the neighbourhood which bear the name "Stretton", the others being All Stretton and Little Stretton. The word "Stretton" means "settlement on a Roman Road" in Old English. The Roman road in question is the famous Watling Street, which linked the cross-Channel ports of Kent, via Londinium to Viroconium.
Until around 1900, Church Stretton was a very small local market town, but one whose inhabitants gained a reputation for being able to fiercely defend their rights and way of life. The much-maligned Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries held little sway here, as the locals rioted every time it was proposed that their common land be fenced off. By the 1850s, the popularity of grouse shooting had all but killed off the prospect of the Long Mynd being parcelled into private estates, and it remains common land to this day, though managed by the National Trust.
The town quickly grew in the early 20th century as a popular spa resort. It was at this time it got the nickname "Little Switzerland" because of its situation among the dominating hills. The hills, while small in height, do have an impressive rockiness, shape and steepness, and so the comparison with the much loftier Swiss Alps is strangely apt. Today Church Stretton remains small, but is busy and prosperous, and is popular for those who enjoy hillwalking and admiring the scenery of south Shropshire. The worst of the traffic is diverted along the A49, meaning the town is quite a pleasant place for an hour or two's exploration. The backstreets, particularly around the parish church, are especially pretty and secluded.
By roadChurch Stretton is just off the main A49 trunk road between Shrewsbury and Ludlow. The B4371 road from Much Wenlock ends in Church Stretton. The main car park is next to the Co-operative supermarket From the A49, take the first left after the railway station turnoff (Easthope Road).
Church Stretton station is served by trains on the Cardiff - Manchester and Cardiff - Holyhead routes, as well as the scenic Heart of Wales line between Shrewsbury and Swansea.
By airThe most convenient airport is (BHX) at Birmingham. Straightforward rail connections via Shrewsbury. Alternatively (MAN) is not much further and is also accessible by rail.
Church Stretton is a small town and is easy to get around on foot. There is a local bus service, the 435 run by Minsterley Motors.
address: St Laurence's Church, Church St, SY6 6DQGrade-I listed Saxon and Norman church that gives the place its name.
Caer CaradocIron age hill fort
HillwalkingChurch Stretton is the main centre for walking in the Shropshire Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, especially the Long Mynd and Caradoc ranges. A good place to start for new visitors is the National Trust's Carding Mill Valley centre.
phone: +44 1694 725000address: SY6 6JG
FlyingThe Long Mynd is one of the top centres for gliding and hang-gliding in England.
Stretton Antiques Marketphone: +44 1694 723718address: 36 Sandford Ave, SY6 6BH
There is one medium-sized supermarket, the Co-op on Lion Meadow. Otherwise most shops are small independents.
phone: +44 1694 722898address: 42 High Street Church, SY6 6BXLarge, town centre public house.
phone: +44 1694 724441address: 27 High St, SY6 6BXModern cafe bar.
phone: +44 1694 722711address: Ludlow Rd, Little Stretton, SY6 6RBKnown locally for its good food. Lovely beer garden. Car park.
phone: +44 1694 722925address: Ludlow Rd, Little Stretton, SY6 6RESeparate bar and restaurant rooms. Childrens play area. Real ale.
phone: +44 1694 722244address: Cunnery Road, Church Stretton, SY6 6AGEdwardian spa hotel. Situated above the town in its own woodland. The largest hotel in the area. Restaurant and bar. Outdoor swimming pool.