Wem High Street
Wem shown within Shropshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
|UK Parliament||North Shropshire|
Wem is a small market town in Shropshire, England. It is the administrative centre for the northern area committee of Shropshire Council, which has its headquarters at Edinburgh House in the centre of Wem. Wem lies nine miles to the north of Shropshire's county town of Shrewsbury and sits on the rail line between that town and Crewe in Cheshire.
The area now known as Wem is believed to have been settled prior to the Roman Conquest of Britain, by the Cornovii, Celtic Iron Age settlers. The town is recorded in the Domesday Book as consisting of four manors. In 1202, Wem became a market town.
The town supported the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, and was subject to an attack by Lord Capel, in which the town held off the attackers. In 1677, a fire destroyed many of the wooden buildings in the town.
Within the town the sweet pea was first commercially cultivated, under the variety named Eckford Sweet Pea, after its inventor, nursery-man Henry Eckford. He first introduced a variety of the sweet pea in 1882, and set up in Wem in 1888, developing and producing many more varieties. There is a road to signify the Eckford name, called Eckford Park (within Wem). Each year, the Eckford Sweet Pea Society of Wem hold a sweet pea festival. In Victorian times, the town was known as "Wem, where the sweet peas grow".
Brewing, initially a 'cottage industry', was carried out in Wem as early as 1700, when Richard Gough wrote of a contemporary in his History of Myddle a Latin aphorism he translated: Let slaves admire base things, but my friend still/My cup and can with Wem's stoute ale shall fill. By 1900 a Shrewsbury and Wem Brewery Company traded on a widespread scale after acquiring the brewery in Noble Street previously run by Charles Henry Kynaston. The company was taken over in turn by Greenall Whitley & Co Ltd but the brewery was closed in 1988. From 1986 to 1989 the brewery served as the shirt sponsor for Shrewsbury Town. 
Culture and community
Thomas Adams School is a state-funded secondary school, established in 1650. It also has a Sixth Form College on site.
Each year Wem holds a traditional town carnival on the first Saturday of September, as well as the Sweet Pea Festival.
Hawkstone Park is nearby.
Wem was the birthplace of actors Peter Vaughan and Peter Jones, and the childhood home of the essayist and critic, William Hazlitt, whose father was a Unitarian Minister in the town. Stand-up and comedy actor Greg Davies spent his childhood in the town and attended its Thomas Adams School, as did professional wrestler Neil Faith. John Astley, an 18th-century portrait painter, was from the town. Anna Essinger moved her boarding school to Trench Hall, near Wem when Bunce Court was given short notice to evacuate during World War II.
- OS Explorer Map 241, Shrewsbury, Wem, Shawbury & Baschurch. ISBN 978-0-319-46276-8
- "History of Wem". Wem. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Woodward, Iris (1976). The Story of Wem and its Neighbourhood. Wilding's, Shrewsbury. p. 18.Gough's book was not published until 19th century.
- Kelly's Directory of Shropshire. Kelly's. 1900. pp. 269, 333.
- Kelly's Directory of Shropshire. Kelly's. 1895. pp. 253, 312.
- Woodward, Iris. The Story of Wem and its Neighbourhood. p. 114.
- "End of Era for Brewery". Shropshire Star. 22 July 1987.
- "Peter Vaughan: Acting clever". The Shropshire Magazine. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "TV Comedy People: Peter Jones". British TV Resources. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Wem". Shropshire Routes to Roots. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Harold Jackson, "Anna's children" The Guardian (July 18, 2003). Retrieved September 29, 2011
- The Story of Wem by Iris Woodward (1952)
- The History of Wem by Samuel Garbet (1818)
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