In 1800, the place known as Kingsland was a green and pleasant plateau overlooking the south bank of the River Severn and the town of Shrewsbury. Its principal feature was a fairly flat 27-acre area of land, also known as the Common, owned by the Corporation. The site was used for recreation by the townsfolk and the Shrewsbury Show had been held here annually since 1591. Kingsland was covered with trees and hedges, and the ground was divided up into small fields where cattle and sheep grazed, and where hay and wheat were harvested. A large brick windmill had been erected near the Shoemakers Arbour in 1796 on the previous site of a maze containing a measured mile used for the Shoemakers Race.

The dominant building on the site was the old Foundling Hospital, now the House of Industry. The rest of the buildings on Kingsland consisted mainly of small dwellings or cottages known as arbours, with enclosed gardens which were owned by the trades guilds and occupied by local artisans.

On the periphery of Kingsland were larger houses leased or owned by local worthies, along with other smaller dwellings many rented by artisans. The large houses included Kingsland House (Loxdale), The Poplars, Cann Office (later known as Kingsland Bank), Grove Cottage and House, Luciefelde House, York Cottage and Russell Cottage. Ridgemount may also have been built recently. The Beehive had been built recently but the earliest date at which it became an inn is not known. There may have been an inn at or near the Cann Office. A building on the site of the Boathouse Inn (on Porthill Road) had already existed for about 200 years.

Fig. 1 Areas marked in red indicate the the six Arbours, the two Ferries , & the Foundling Hospital /HOI, the Poplars, Cann Office, Kingsland House, Grove House & Grove Cottage
Fig. 1. Extract from Tisdale’s 1875 map. Areas marked pink indicate the six arbours; in red the Foundling Hospital/HOI, the Poplars, Cann Office, Kingsland House, Grove House and Grove Cottage; in green the two ferries.

Across the land was one major carriage road, and other bridlepaths and footpaths: at the east the main carriage path joined the present Longden main road; at the west it joined Kingsland Lane (now part of Roman Road) to connect with the main road to Hanwood (now Porthill Road). The Cinderpath crossed the Radbrook (Raddlebrook) through the Rad Valley to Belle Vue. From the plateau, the meadows descended to the river and to two ferries connecting to the town. Thomas Ansell’s 1759 map of Kingsland (see also Fig. 1) shows the central area of the plateau enclosed by a hedge and gates, and records suggest this arrangement had changed very little over the preceding centuries. Here was a large piece of land close to the town waiting for development. Though the population of Shrewsbury increased by 60 per cent between 1801 and 1871, census records show only small changes on Kingsland up till 1871 when major developments began, including more houses on Canonbury.

Next chapter: Landownership


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