I’ve lived in North Shropshire for over two years, and Shrewsbury is my nearest large town, but despite having sampled many of its delights on a number of visits, it wasn’t until about a month ago that I discovered the park known as ‘The Dingle’. And what a find! Set in a depression at the centre of an area of parkland known as The Quarry, The Dingle is what might traditionally be referred to as a municipal park. The wider area of parkland – grass and trees – is wrapped around by a bend of the river Severn, and the whole is overlooked by the pretty St Chad’s church (an attractive round building that from above looks curiously like the Starship Enterprise).
Contrary to so many municipal parks that are unloved (particularly in these hard times) The Dingle is very well cared for, with an attractive small lake surrounded by shrubs and perennial beds. There’s also an area of formal bedding – not exactly ‘on-trend’ but probably historically correct (I’m guessing it was set up in Victorian times).
I visited at the beginning of April, on a bright, if cool, day. The early season bedding of daffodils and tulips, wallflowers, primulas and forget-me-nots were looking bright and cheerful. There was blossom on trees, and the fresh, red shoots of the pieris were apparently undamaged by frost (it may be The Dingle’s sunken aspect lends it some protection). Quite a few of the rhododendrons were already flowering.
There are a number of interesting architectural features. The shoemakers’ arbour is a stone arch decorated with ancient statues of the two patron saints of shoe making, and bearing the initials of the wardens of the shoemakers’ guild (sounds like a lot of cobblers to me!) There’s a bust of Percy Thrower, who was apparently Shrewsbury parks superintendent.
And this is a statue of a nymph, Sabrina, associated with the river Severn…
They may have had a reputation for prudishness, but those Victorians did like their saucy statues…
text & photos © graham wright