The name of the town comes from the Old English "wamm", meaning a marsh, as a lot of marshy land exists in the area of the town. Over time, this formed the name "Wem". The area now known as Wem is believed to have been inhabited by the Cornovii, Celtic Iron Age settlers, before the Roman Conquest of Britain. The town is recorded in the Domesday Book as consisting of four manors in the hundred of Hodnet. In 1202, Wem became a market town.
Now, the town has a population of 5,142. Each year, Wem holds a traditional town carnival which is held on the first Saturday of September, as well as the Sweet Pea Festival on the third weekend of July.