MINSTERLEY is a parish, nine miles S.W. by W. of Shrewsbury, containing 2,875A. 3R. 7P. of land, the rateable value of which is £3,165. At the census of 1841 there were 168 houses and 914 persons. Population in 1811, 705; and in 1831, 809.
Half a century ago Minsterley consisted of only a few farm houses; but since the lead mines have been extensively worked it has generally increased. The lead ore of this place is found enclosed or covered with a spar, over which is a kind of blue stone or slate, and contains a great quantity of red lead, and small portion of silver. The Snailbeach mines are situated about a mile from Minsterley, and have been worked for 60 years in a most efficient and profitable manner, without experiencing any stoppage. The shafts are from 300 to 360 yards in depth, and the engine and machinery for crushing the ore are on an extensive scale. There are about 500 miners daily at work, besides others engaged in washing and smelting the ore. Upwards of £2,000 per month is paid in wages. The mines are the property of Messrs. Lovett, Jones, and Company, and under the management of Mr. John Harrison. In the year 1831 a Roman pig of lead was found by some workmen in sinking through a, slag heap of smeltings, on which appears the following inscription in raised letters :—
I M P. H A D R I A N I. A V G.
It is in length twenty inches, and the girth is twenty inches, weighing 173 pounds.
Some years ago, an act of parliament was obtained by several landed proprietors to form a canal to carry the surplus water from Marton Pool to the Severn, which covered upwards of 200 acres of land for several months in the year. Since the cutting of the canal a great part of the land has been reclaimed, and brought into a state of cultivation. The Marquis of Bath is lord of the manor, and principal landowner. The Fair, or “Gentlemen’s Meet”, at Minsterley, is held on July 25th.
THE CHURCH is a brick fabric, built about the latter end of the 16th century. It consists of nave, chancel, and has a small wooden tower, in which is one bell. It is neatly pewed with oak and the reading desk and sounding board are elaborately carved. In the chancel is a tablet, erected by the Snailbeach Company to the memory of their late agent, Mr. John Nealor. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Marquis of Bath, and the rector of the first portion of Westbury, and enjoyed by the Rev. Emilius Nicholson, M.A. The incumbent has a rent charge, derivable from the Cause Castle estate, amounting to £60 per annum.
THE METHODISTS have a neat brick chapel here, which was built in 1833. THE FREE SCHOOL was erected in 1843, at the joint expense of the Marquis of Bath and several gentlemen belonging to the Snailbeach Company, in compliance with the requisitions expressed in the will of the late John Johnson, Esq., who provided an endowment to establish and perpetuate a day-school for the education of all children resident in the parish. The Snailbeach Mining Company have endowed the school with £10 yearly, and ordered that every miner shall pay to the schoolmaster sixpence every quarter. The school will accommodate one hundred children. The average attendance of the scholars is eighty. Joshua Williams, by will, in 1819, bequeathed an annuity of £20 for the education of poor children in the parish of Minsterley.
A replica lead ingot was made to the same weight and dimensions as the 1831 ingot, by Barry Ellis and the Shropshire Mines Trust in November 2003.