VCH Shropshire


Wem is a small town in the north of the county. There have been previous histories of Wem including that by the eighteenth-century Wem clergyman and schoolmaster Samuel Garbet. Garbet’s history is an important witness to the town in his lifetime and to its history before his time. More recently there has been a history by Iris Woodward (1952), reprinted frequently, with additional chapters by John Dromgool.

The new history of Wem, by Judith Everard, James P. Bowen and Wendy Horton, published by Victoria County History Shropshire in 2019, reflects the pre-occupations of local historians in the 21st century.

Wem High Street, early twentieth century

It gives appropriate weight to landscape, buildings, social structure, retailing and the developments of the twentieth century. It explores archives which have previously only been skimmed and draws on the wide range of sources which have been made available by the digital revolution in local history. It tells the story of the town from its Norman Castle and early street layout, through church and its unhappy rebuilding, and repeated attempts to improve the environment of Wem, whether the building of a new suburb, the progressive attempts to improve the High Street, the tangled attempts to provide sewage or supply residents with clean water. It makes room for the town’s lawyers and doctors. It also describes Wem’s industries, many of them lost and forgotten, but each of which has left its mark on the town.

It is an accessible book, of interest to both residents of Wem, for whom it tells the story of their community and to other historians of the county for whom Wem has been a largely unknown place. The book is fully referenced and indexed as well as lavishly illustrated in colour.

Wem is 174 pages, with 35 figures, 5 maps: paperback.

Sources How to Buy

How to buy Wem

Wem is available by post from VCH Shropshire.

Cover of Wem short

£16 plus

£2.50 delivery

Email, to arrange a bank transfer.

If you prefer to send a cheque, please send a note of the address you want it delivered to (or print and fill in this form) and a cheque for £18.50, made out to VCH (Shropshire) Ltd. to:

VCH Shropshire
Bratton Villa
Heighways Lane
All Stretton

You can also find the book in various local retail outlets, including The Wem Bookshop, 81 High St, Wem, SY4 5DR; Pengwern Books, Fish St, Shrewsbury, SY1 1UR; and Shropshire Archives (Wednesday–Friday), Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, SY1 2AQ, for £16.00, but check to see whether they are open before you travel there.