Communications, p. 146. Growth of Settlement, p. 147. Social and Cultural Activities, p. 151. Manor and Other
Estates, p. 153. Economic History, p. 155. Local Government, p. 164. Public Services, p. 166. Churches, p. 166.
Roman Catholicism, p. 172. Protestant Nonconformity, p. 173. Serbian Orthodoxy, p. 174. Education, p. 174.
Charities for the Poor, p. 175.
Lilleshall village lies 4 km. south-west of
Newport, with the Newport-Wellington road
bypassing the village to the west. (fn. 71) The ancient
parish boundaries are marked on the north and
west by Headford and Humber brooks, which
drain on the north-west into the Weald Moors, an
area where the manorial boundaries (conterminous with those of the parish) required definition
in the 13th and 16th centuries. (fn. 72) The southern
boundary is marked by Watling Street, and a lane
thence to the Woodhouse farm runs north for a
short distance along the southernmost stretch of
the eastern boundary.
Unaltered until 1898 the parish boundary enclosed a compact area of 6,175 a. (fn. 73) (2,499 ha.)
extending north from Watling Street to the Weald
Moors. The land falls gradually from south-east
to north-west, dropping c. 120 metres and then
levelling out. Streams watering the centres of
settlement flow north-west across the parish to
drain into the Weald Moors at the boundary.
There are two greatly contrasting areas. The
larger is the agricultural north and east, centring
on Lilleshall village. The south-west was densely
occupied by coal mines and ironworks in the
earlier 19th century, and a century later they were
mostly derelict, leaving much of that area as an
unsightly waste. In the south-west a small part of
the parish was taken into Oakengates in 1898, and
from 1968 Telford new town included the whole
industrial area, with a view to its redevelopment.
By 1983 the waste areas had been greatly improved by landscaping.
A small 1st-century Roman military installation, apparently surrounded by a later civil settlement, stood at Redhill in the south-east corner of
the parish, where Watling Street crossed the
summit of the hill. (fn. 74) It was probably Uxacona,
named in the Antonine Itinerary. (fn. 75) Nearby are
indications of both Iron Age and Roman
occupation. (fn. 76) There is no evidence that Redhill
was occupied beyond the Roman period.
In the early Middle Ages the sandstone slopes
in the south probably supported unbroken woodland, the only remnant of which is Abbey wood.
The extreme north was a waterlogged waste,
though later reclaimed. From the early Middle
Ages until the late 18th century the population
therefore mostly lived and worked within a central
drift-covered belt stretching from north-east to
south-west between the less attractive areas (fn. 77) and
including the villages of Lilleshall, Honnington,
Muxton, and Donnington. Within the central
belt, at its north-eastern end, a long outcrop of
bare volcanic rock, Lilleshall Hill (132 metres
above O.D.), rises dramatically some 60 metres
above the surrounding fields.
The obelisk on Lilleshall Hill, designed by G.
E. Hamilton, was begun in 1833 in memory of the
1st duke of Sutherland. (fn. 78) Its inscription was composed by the Revd. J. J. Blunt, (fn. 79) the vicar's son,
later Lady Margaret professor of divinity at
Cambridge. (fn. 80)
The remains of Lilleshall abbey were garrisoned for the Crown in the First Civil War and
fell to Parliament in 1645 after long resistance. (fn. 81) A
long depression north of the abbey is supposed to
indicate the position of the attackers' siegeworks. (fn. 82)
Already in 1598, however, the field where it lies
was called the Knole, (fn. 83) a name suggesting surface
irregularities. (fn. 84) A hoard of 522 coins, buried c.
1643, was found at Donnington in 1938. (fn. 85)
Annual Rogationtide perambulations, by the
vicar and parishioners, of the township boundaries of Lilleshall and of Muxton and Donnington, were recorded from the 17th century, (fn. 86) when
they were claimed as an ancient custom. (fn. 87) The
proceedings, called 'bannering', usually lasted
three days. (fn. 88) They were last recorded in 1797. (fn. 89)
Robin's (or Our Lady's) well, a 'pin' well near
Lilleshall Grange, was restored c. 1909. (fn. 90)
Notable people connected with the parish, besides the lords of the manor, include the 15thcentury religious writer John Mirk, canon of
Lilleshall, (fn. 91) and Sir Gordon Richards, the champion jockey, born at Donnington Wood in 1904. (fn. 92)