Oswestry. less than two miles from Sweeney Hall Hotel, is an ancient market town located in the North of Shropshire close by the English – Welsh Border. Its strategic position as a ‘frontier town’ has given it a turbulent history. Today the town still retains its vital function as a market and shopping centre serving North West Shropshire and Mid Wales. The narrow passageways link streets whose names conjure up images of the past: English Walls, Welsh Walls, The Bailey and the Horsemarket. It is a locally important shopping and agricultural centre and still retains the intimacy of a rural town serving local people and home to a number of specialist and independent shops.
The origins of the town are uncertain although the towns market dates back to 1190. The name Oswestry is thought to be a corruption of ‘Oswald’s Tree’ and the legend that Oswald the Christian King of Northumbria fought a great battle against the pagan King of Mercia – Penda. Oswald was defeated and killed in the battle. Penda – as a warning to others who might challenge his rule – dismembered Oswald’s body and hung his limbs on the branches of a tree – hence the name ‘Oswalds Tree’.
Most of the town centre has been designated a Conservation Area conveying a mixture of architectural styles. There are many old timber framed houses, for example Llywd Mansion on Cross Street, the Heritage Centre, the Blackgate, the Fox Inn and the shops along Beatrice Street. Georgian architecture is also represented particularly around St Oswald’s Church where there are a number of imposing town houses complete with grand entrance staircases and front doors.
It has a significant Victorian legacy. Many of the Shop fronts and facades, the many terraced houses and churches and railway buildings reflect this period.