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TEN OF THE BEST HOTELS IN SHROPSHIRE

Adrian Mourby

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I find Shropshire one of England's loveliest counties. For century this green, castellated landscape was part of the Marcher Lands, border territory where Welsh armies clashed with the English king's representatives. Sending a Welsh king to London as Henry VII bought peace in 1485 and Shropshire flourished as a rich agricultural landscape. Prosperity unreliant on industry has created small, walled towns and country roads that seemed dotted with rectories, farms and old school houses. For those not determined to walk Offa's Dyke (the old pre-Norman border) Shropshire still offers the chance for country strolls, eating well and putting your feet up in front of a blazing fire.
Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel

You really can't get closer to the Welsh border than this old Georgian rectory down a well-hedged lane west of Oswestry. There are only 12 rooms, four of them in converted outhouses. Walks in the area include the lovely Racecourse Wood. This is very much a place for a romantic getaway, moreover the hotel has received an embarrassment of awards for its food.

The Castle Hotel

Bishop's Castle received its Royal Charter in 1249. In 1719 an inn was constructed on the outer bailey of its ruined castle. The builder was the Duke of Chandos, MP and patron of Handel. Today The Castle has half its bedrooms at the top of a gracious eighteenth-century staircase and the other half in the servants' garret. A great base for exploring Offa's Dyke.

Soulton Hall

There was a castle at Soulton before the Domesday Book was written, but the current brick construction is Elizabethan, the work of Roland Hill, an early Lord Mayor of London. Soulton has four rooms in the main house, each named after a family who have owned the hall since the Conquest. There are also rooms in outbuildings and charming individual cottages in the grounds.

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