Sometime in the late 1780s a mon travelling frum Dublin to London decided to break his journey with a night in Shrewsbury. He booked himself into the recently renamed Lion Hotel (it was previously the Red Lion) and requested a three o’clock alarm call in order that he could be on the five o’clock mail coach to London (I think that this service started in 1785). Sadly on going to rouse him the maid found him jed (dead) in his bed. She immediately notified the manager, possibly one of the Lion’s most famous proprietors Robert Lawrence, in order to identify the poor fellow a search was made of his belongings but only his ticket and a little cash was found. At the time the Lion had ambitious plans to become the county’s most prestigious hotel and the last thing that the manager needed was a scandal about one of his guests dying on the premises. It was probably with this in mind that a funeral was hastily arranged for that day. The undertaker was paid with the mon’s money and after a brief service the coffin was lowered into a plot in St Julian’s churchyard.
Until their demolition in 1789 a row of houses stood in front of St Julian’s church and in a half-timbered house lived a shoemaker and diarist, John Tarbuck and his niece. That evening and the following day they heard screaming and horrendous scratching and banging noises which they reported to the authorities. The sounds were traced to the new plot in the churchyard. An exhumation was quickly arranged and when the coffin was opened the “corpse” had worn his fingers to the bone trying to get out. He possibly suffered from a sleeping sickness and had been buried alive.
Some folks say that it was the gentleman’s chef, Mr Taur was buried, others say that it was a pauper hence the quick burial.
Standing at the top of St Julian’s steps, listen very carefully and you might just hear the dreadful sounds that can still be heard on quiet evenings, although I have bin towd that things have bin a bit quieter since stall holders at a former craft market held an exorcism in the 1990s.
Pop back in tomorrow if you can for a trip to the Old House, oh! and dunna have nightmares.