I have been researching for the next video exploits of the Bald Explorer in Shrewsbury. The town is such a fascinating place and steeped in history. One particular focal point is naturally the busy coaching inn, The Lion Hotel at the top of the curiously named street, Wyle Cop.
Luckily for me some one has already done all the necessary research I could ever want and more. John Butterworth, ex-editor of the Shrewsbury Chronicle (12 years), has just published a wonderful account of the life of the county town’s premier hotel, formerly known as the Red Lion, but now renamed simply as The Lion. I have seen this magnificent establishment dominate history books about Shropshire many times, with continual mentions to the characters that ran the various coaching services along the London to Hollyhead road.
Charles Dickens stayed there and possibly wrote some of his Pickwick Papers while ensconced in the ‘strangest little rooms’ as he called it, describing the windows as if they were on the stern of a ship on account of the way that they bulged out onto the street.
Charles Darwin caught a stagecoach early one morning outside the Lion on his way to sail on board the famous ship The Beagle, which influenced not only his life but his view on natural selection and eventually led to the infamous book that so upset the clergy and other religious people of the time.
Even the great Paganini gave a concert in the Ballroom in 1833 which was an incredible coup for the boarder town, among a host of other talented and renown artists and musicians over the years.
I have set up to film an interview with John to talk about his book and the hotel for the Bald Explorer and I know that it shall be a fascinating encounter, but if you would like to find out more about this amazing place, the coaching history of yesteryear, the Shrewsbury’s most eccentric MP, Benjamin Disraeli’s address to the public and so on, then do check out John’s blog: http://thelionhotelbook.blogspot.com/ and order a copy of the book!