Meole Brace And Lyth Hill
This trail takes you to Meole Brace, an historic village on the outskirts of Shrewsbury where Mary Webb, then Mary Gladys Meredith, lived with her family 1902-1912, and onto Lyth Hill where she lived with her husband from 1917 to 1927.
Click the map for a large scale version
Turn left out of the Abbey Foregate Car Park to the traffic lights and follow the signs for Belle Vue. Continue through Belle Vue, forking right into Upper Road. Cross Roman Road into Meole Brace.
Park off Church Road on the hard standing on the village green to see Holy Trinity Church. If the church is not open, visit the church office in the Trinity Centre, accessible to the north of the Tower (open 9 - 3 Mon - Fri) or contact the church in advance to arrange access.
Mary met her future husband, Henry Webb, at a literary gathering in Meole Brace after Henry had come to live at Brent House. (The house opposite the Vicarage which you can see when leaving Church Road ). They were married in Holy Trinity Church where a brass plaque on a pew commemorates ‘Mary Webb worshipped here’. The church has a fine altar and splendid Burne-Jones stained glass windows.
Continue walking round the green. Turn left opposite the school for a short walk along the Rea Brook past the Old Mill Races. When you rejoin the road turn left for Maesbrook, the site of Mary’s home before her marriage. The house was demolished in 1912 and the current building is a private nursing home. In the wooded grounds Mary spent many happy hours, watching closely the activity of birds, and observing the rich variety of plant, insect and water life.
Where on the wrinkled stream the willows lean,
And fling a very ecstasy of green
Down the dim crystal, and the chestnut tree
Admires her large-leaved shadow, swift and free
A water ousel came ….
‘The Water Ousel’
Mary often walked from Meole Brace over the meadows to Lyth Hill, her favourite place.
Drive to Shrewsbury Cemetery to see Mary Webb’s grave. It is in the older part of the Cemetery on the left, close to a tree in an avenue of limes:
Under a blossoming tree let me lie down
With one blackbird to sing to me
In the evenings brown ….
From Lyth Hill (557ft) there is a breath-taking panorama of ‘the enchanted plain’ and the Shropshire Hills, all of significance in Mary Webb’s life and writings. Lyth Hill was her ‘home of colour and light’ where she felt inspired to write. Though less wooded than in her time, the hill, its slopes, the view and ‘Spring Coppice’ are much as they were when she lived here, looking across to ‘the blue ring of hills’…’the sapphire-circled plain.’
An information plaque identifies each of the Shropshire Hills and their geological history. From here walk (right) along the unmade path until you come to ‘Spring Cottage’ (privately owned), Mary’s home from 1917 to 1927. It was built to Mary’s own design, with a verandah where she would sit writing - novels, poems and stories flowing from her pen.
Continue along the path to Spring Coppice
Each day Mary walked along Lyth Hill to Spring Coppice, her ‘Little Wood’ – an endless source of inspiration and solace, where she observed many of the details of nature which enriched her writing.
Into the scented woods we’ll go
And see the blackthorn swim in snow,
High above, in the budding leaves,
A brooding dove awakes and grieves…
- ‘Green Rain’
Before leaving Lyth Hill, see in the plain (L) a patch of dark woods enclosing Bomere Pool (privately owned) to which Mary often walked, gathering inspiration for ‘Sarn Mere’ in Precious Bane. She also used details and legends of the north Shropshire Meres, especially Colemere (visit Shropshire ’ s Lakeland ).
Mary Webb Trail
- Trail One - Meole Brace & Lyth Hill
- Trail Two - Wroxeter, Leighton & Much Wenlock
- Trail Three - Pulverbatch, Thresholds & The Long Mynd
- Trail Four - Pontesbury, Lordshill & The Stiperstones