Owdo me owd butties, when i was first heard about the grave of Monsieur Penaud I was told a charming little tale that two lovers had professed their undying love for each other and vowed that it ‘ould continue in the afterlife.This appeared to have bin proven by two trees, one either side of the tomb, growing and becoming entwined above in the shape of a heart. Unfortunately this inna quite true, Monsieur Penaud was single when he died.
This photograph from a 1941 edition of the Shrewsbury Chronicle shows the tree growing.
So who was Jean Penaud, or John as he was known? Some say that he was a French prisoner of war but it is possible that he escaped frum France at the time of the French revolution.He must’ve had a few pennies for he had Kingsland Cottage built on the site of a former cottage and was thought to be living there by 1799.
Now monsieur Penaud didna believe in God and declared that if he was to be proven wrong “his tomb would be rent asunder” by summat other than human intervention. A laburnum seed must have found it’s way into his final resting place and eventually grew into a tree with a stem some six inches thick, in 1919 during a strong gale the tree was blown down breaking open the tomb, the tree was removed but as the root was left behind two shoots grew up, one either side, and entwined into the arch seen above.
A lot of the above information was told by Richard Webb of Upper Pulley,who looked after the churchyard from early 1919 until his death in 1933 but writing in the parish magazine, in the 1950’s, Edward A Paddock says that Penaud was a devout churchmon and benefactor and “In 1846,15 years after his death,the trees emerged and the wardens raised the tomb on a plinth,so that they might have freedom of growth.They were badly damaged in a severe storm in 1919,but again grew,and were trained to meet overhead by Richard Webb”
Dying unmarried and childless in 1828 Monsieur Penaud left Kingsland Cottage to his housekeeper Mary Davenport and bequeathed £50 to the poor, the interest of which was to be given at the discretion of the minister and churchwardens.The parliamentary papers of 1831 say that Phillip Hayle and Samuel Tudor of Shrewsbury were appointed executors and “the amount of this legacy, after deducting £5 for the payment of duty, has been paid to the churchwardens; but at present they have not been able to find the means of placing it out on good security”. This donation was recorded on the benefactor’s board in the tower.
Although the tree was still there in 1958 only the grave remains today, (a bricked up hole may be where the roots are) in the graveyard of the Holy Trinity Church, Meole Brace. He was buried here because at the time Kingsland lay within the Meole parish. Although now one of the nearest tombs to the church when he was buried he was some distance from the then church which was replaced by the current (4th) church in 1869.
Just as monsieur Penaud had a French life and an English life, a French name and an English name so his grave has a French side and an English side, this is on the French side (the English side is very similar, pop down and have a brevit).
Ici Repose M.Jean Penaud Natif de Fouguerolles pres de Ste Foy dans le voisinage de Bordeaux ne le 8 Aout 1750 decede a Kingsland Cottage Shrewsbury le 25 Janvier 1828
What happened to his house keeper? I hear you cry. Well by 1839 she had changed the name of Kingsland Cottage to the Beehive and was running it as an inn afore selling it in the mid 1840’s. The Shropshire Folklore book published in 1883 records a signpost with the following on:
Within this hive we are all alive Good liquor makes us funny If you are dry come in and try The flavour of our honey.
The inn had several names in it’s short life including Severn House Inn, Summerhouse Inn and Kingsland Inn afore reverting back to the Beehive.The inn’s days were numbered once the Schools moved into the nearby workhouse in 1882, an alehouse for their students to frequent ‘ould never do and it closed its doors for good in 1895, it later had a new lease of life as a post office until closing on the 26th of May 1976.
Danker me! that’s enough of me chunnerin’ on about the jed(it’s the live’uns you need to werrit about),thank’ee muchly to anyone who is still reading this far down,now run along and play nicely.