There has been a place of worship on the Shrewsbury Abbey site since Anglo-Saxon times. The Abbey was founded as a Benedictine Monastery by Roger de Montgomery in 1083. After the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII the part of the Abbey building which survived continued as a Parish Church - as it is to this day.
Much of the original Norman 11th century building survives in the present Abbey church, notably the short thick piers in the eastern half of the nave and the remnants of the original transepts. Stones with three sculptured figures, representing John the Baptist, Saint Winifred and St. Beuno, were found in a garden and have been restored to their original position in the screen. During the 19th century, there were major restoration projects to restore the clerestory, and the east end of the church was redesigned by John Loughborough Pearson to contain a chancel and sanctuary.
Inside the west end, on opposite walls, are stone war memorial tablets to parishioners who died serving in the separate World Wars. Among the names on that for the First World War is listed war poet Wilfred Owen (as Lieutenant W.E.S. Owen M.C., Manchester Regiment). In the Abbey churchyard is a memorial sculpture erected by the Wilfred Owen Association on his birth centenary (1993) by Paul de Monchaux, incorporating a line from his poem Strange Meeting inscribed by Paul's wife, Ruth.
The Brother Cadfael books, radio and TV series are based on the life of a monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey between 1137 and 1147. The books, although fictional, cover many historical events that happened in Shrewsbury around this time, including the translation of St Winifred and the siege of Shrewsbury Castle, as well as more general aspects of Medieval life that were important in shaping Shrewsbury, such as the wool and cloth trade. Shrewsbury Visitor Information Centre hold Brother Cadfael guided tours around the town, find out more information and how to book by calling: 01743 258888.