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Ellesmere Society

Society news

Society news

There is no speaker in May as it is the society’s annual outing.

The next meeting of the Ellesmere Society is on Tuesday June 19th the speaker will be David Skillen with a talk titled ‘Forewarned Forearmed’ a talk about The Royal Observer Corps in War and Peace

The society holds its monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of the month in the Ellesmere Comrades Club, visitors, and potential new members are welcome. 

For more information please check out our Website – www.ellesmeresociety.org


April 2018

The speaker for the Ellesmere society’s meeting on April 17th was John Butterworth his talk was titled A Towns 3 ancient Treasures. John is a retired editor of the Shrewsbury Chronical, he gave us a very entertaining talk about three treasures from Shrewsbury, the first was St Chad’s Church, John told us that the original 13th-century building was largely destroyed when the central tower collapsed in 1788.

Scottish architect George Steuart was commissioned to build a new church, and he submitted several preliminary designs, but due to a misunderstanding, Steuart went on to complete a circular plan which was not the Parish Church Council's preferred design. The foundation stone was laid on St Chad's day, 2 March 1790, the building work was supervised by John Simpson (who later worked on several projects with Thomas Telford.

John’s next treasure was The Shrewsbury Chronical Newspaper, he said it is one of the oldest weekly newspapers in the UK, publishing its first edition in 1772. Founded by Thomas Wood, a drapery salesman-turned-printer and a bit of a Del Boy according to John, the Shrewsbury Chronicle was first published on Monday 23 November 1772 more than 20 years before The Times. Thomas Wood mainly used his newspaper to promote and sell items to do with his many sidelines. John said that in the early days the paper covered national, international and local news, major news stories as the American War of Independence, the death of Nelson and the Crimean War, did not warrant much space, as it carried advertisements alone on its front page which is where the money was made. Following Wood's death in 1801, his widow Mary carried on the paper until her own death in 1808, making her "one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of women newspaper proprietors".

John’s third treasure was the Lion Hotel. John said that as the major inn on the road that connected Ireland, Wales and London, The building which stands on Wyle Cop today was built in the 1770s, when the owner with the deep pockets was John Ashby, a former mayor and town clerk of Shrewsbury. Subsequently it turned out that Ashby’s pockets were not so deep as he thought; he died in bankruptcy in 1779 and the contents of the hotel were sold to pay off some of the debts. As a grand gesture, it might have been one of the shortest on record.

In 1780 the hotel lease was taken on by Robert Lawrence, who turned the place into one of the most successful travel inns in the region, by starting a stagecoach route from London to Holyhead stopping at the Lion. When the trade was in its heyday the Shrewsbury Wonder, plying the route between Shrewsbury and London in its distinctly yellow livery, was one of most recognizable, and certainly one of the fleetest of foot. Leaving London at 6.30 in the morning, it pulled into the Lion at 10.30 at night. The Lion Hotel has seen enough history, and enough comings and goings, to fill a volume twice the size, the schedule of famous customers is an impressive enough dictionary of biography on its own: William IV, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Benjamin Disraeli, the Beatles, Tony Hancock, Niccolo Paganini and Charles Darwin, to name just a few.