As promised, despite one or two setbacks, Hidden Oswestry continues with our trail through the ages… We left off at 1190, when the first Charter was granted to Oswestry by William FitzAlan II, but it was during the 1200s that Oswestry really began to build itself into the powerhouse it would become.

It was between 1200 and 1210 that St. John’s Hospital was built to serve the poor and sufferers of leprosy. The Hospital was situated in what is now Church Street and was governed by the Hospitallers of Halston until 1221, when Haughmond Abbey in Shrewsbury assumed governance. The last recording of this Hospital’s operation was in 1577. This Hospital is the first recorded hospital to serve the town and surrounding areas and began Oswestry’s tradition of providing healthcare to her Burgesses.

By 1211, Oswestry would once again become a warzone. King John assumed the throne in 1199 when his father, Henry III died, and began setting his sights on the annexation of Wales. John was a frequent visitor to Wales between 1204 and 1211; in fact, he even married his illegitimate dauther, Joan, to a Welsh Prince named ‘Llywelyn ap Iorwerth’ [or ‘Llywelyn the Great’]. However, this kinship would not last long, as the King and Llywelyn would go to war with each other during the 1211 Uprising, using Oswestry as a garrison base. This war was a resounding victory for John, as Llywelyn surrendered and both negotiated what would eventually be an expansion of English rule over much of Wales.

1216 saw the death of William FitzAlan and the passing of the Lordships of Oswestry and Clun to his younger brother, John FitzAlan. John FitzAlan was the principle Shropshire Baron who was present at the signing of the Magna Carta, a document which placed huge curbs on King John’s power. As a consequence, King John sent his forces to Oswestry to burn the town to the ground, as punishment. The place was razed off of the map – or so he thought it was!

John FitzAlan reigned until his death in 1240, but his reign was mixed with success and thwarting many times, by both enemy and home sides. King John died in 1216 and his son, Henry III, assumed the throne. One of Henry III’s first powers was to grant Oswestry powers to hold a fair on, or the nearest date to, St. Andrew’s Day. The surrounding towns and villages put up a protest, citing unfair treatment but clearly displaying undeniable envy, but these protests fell on deaf ears, as the Royal Grant was finally confirmed in 1253.

Llywelyn began causing trouble for England again in 1233, as Henry III, the Prince and the Earl Marshal locked proverbial horns and saw the start of another fierce war. Unwilling to make the mistake he made in 1216, John FitzAlan stood with the King, and Llywelyn focused his attack on Oswestry. Llywelyn would attack Oswestry three times – in 1233, 1282 and 1295; the town would suffer immense damage, but the Prince would never be able to do what King John did, and that was to raze the town to the ground.

In the meantime, the Burgesses of Oswestry, now undoubtedly tired of all the royal bickering and fighting, decided that enough was enough. They began strengthening the town’s defences and raised funds to pay for the building of a strong curtain wall around the town’s borders, first in 1257 and again in 1277 and 1283 for maintenance. Incidentally, the latter years were during the reign of Henry III’s son, King Edward I.

Quick! Someone tell the President of the United States!

We conclude this tail in discovering how, in 1263, 23 years following the death of John FitzAlan, his son, John FitzAlan II, granted Oswestry another Charter to strengthen the rules and regulations of Oswestry Market.

Next time, Hidden Oswestry looks at Oswestry during the Fourteenth Century.


- ‘Oswestry through the ages’ [Page 7], by John Pryce-Jones (1991);

- Shropshire History:; and

- Wikipedia:



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