The Tern Valley Trail
The former canalside village of Rodington is an ancient rural community standing on the banks of the River Roden, the waterway from which the settlement probably takes its name. Despite its tranquil appearance, Rodington has a surprisingly lively past and, when Thomas Telford drove the Shrewsbury Canal through the area in the late 1700s, the village Bull Ring was the site of a barbaric annual festival of blood and gore.
The Bull Ring
The Bull Ring was located on the wall opposite what later became Rodington’s national school, which opened in 1849 on land adjacent to the Bull’s Head pub. Just six years before that date, the local pound for stray animals was located on the site, where the gruesome spectacle of bull-baiting with dogs is thought to have continued until about 1840; although the ring to which the unfortunate animals were tethered may have remained in place until 1904.
Beyond that date, a blackened inlet in the sandstone wall itself apparently marked the site of the hearth where the bulls were roasted after being killed. An annual week of cockfighting is also known to have taken place on the site until 1810, attracting colliers from the Shropshire coalfield at Ketley and Oakengates, who apparently stayed next door at the Bull’s Head, reputedly the second oldest licensed public house in Shropshire.
Archaeological evidence suggests people have lived in the area around Rodington since at least the Iron Age and, near to the Bull Ring, stands one of Rodington’s most ancient foundations – St George’s parish church. A local place of worship is first recorded at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, when a Saxon, Toret, was lord of a manor inhabited by only a handful of villagers and serfs. St George’s itself was founded by the 13th Century, although no trace of the original church, which was inadequately rebuilt in stone during 1751, survives. After a century of regular repairs to the crumbling edifice, extensive renovations were again carried out in 1851, giving the building its modern day appearance.
After passing the parish church, the Tern Valley Trail crosses the River Roden. Traversing the waterway was not always as easy as it is now and, in the early 19th Century, a ford, across the riverbed itself, was the only means available to passing cart traffic wishing to reach the village. Travellers on horseback had the slightly drier option of a ‘wooden horse bridge’, although this structure is known to have collapsed several times before it was replaced by a modern road bridge in 1885. At the same time, the highway between the bridge and the village centre was also raised, to alleviate flooding; before then, water had apparently been able to reach the Bull Ring.