Shropshire - Pubs and Inns with a literary connection



The Lion’s great feature is its famous Adam Ballroom where Thomas DeQuincy slept in 1801 because all the guest rooms were full. This delicately decorated room still looks as good as it did when the author of ‘Confessions of an Opium Eater’ www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Ludlow/Texts/Opium/ described it over 200 years ago: "…a sumptuous room allotted to me, it was a ballroom of noble proportions lighted by three gorgeous chandeliers… sparkling through all their crystal branches and flashing back the soft rays of my tall, waxen lights." DeQuincy went on to comment on the unusual acoustic qualities of the room and its towering height.
Charles James Apperley (1777-1843), was an English sporting writer, better known by his pseudonym ‘Nimrod’. In 1837 he published Memoirs of the Life of the Late John Mytton, in which he describes a visit to the Lion by the Shropshire hunting squire who often came here for port. “On going into the bar one evening when somewhat ‘sprung’ by wine, he was told there was a box in the coach office for him, which contained two brace of foxes”. When the box was brought to him he knocked off the lid with a poker "and let the foxes out in the room in which the landlady and some of her female friends were assembled – giving a thrilling view-holloa…"
The following year 1838, Charles Dickens stayed whilst touring the industrial Midlands with his illustrator Hablot Browne. He wrote a letter from here to his wife Kate which gives a brief vivid word picture of the: "miles of cinderpaths and blazing furnaces and roaring steam engines… and such a mass of dirt and gloom and misery", which he used as background in The Old Curiosity Shop for Little nell's epic journey to Birmingham with her proflagate grandfather.
Twenty years later Dickens stayed here again during one of his provincial reading tours. This time he wrote a letter to his daughter Katie: "…we have the strangest little rooms, the ceilings of which I can touch with my hand. The windows bulge out over the street, as if they were little stern windows in a ship and a door opens out of the sitting room on to a little open gallery with plants in it where one leans over a queer old rail and looks all down hill and slantwise at the crookedest old black and yellow houses".

Lion - Shrewsbury - Shropshire

Copyright T.W. Townsend - the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and any observations were correct at the time of the review.

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