Local Town Crier & Historian Martin Wood next instalment of interesting facts about Shrewsbury

"I was walking down Ffyschestrete the other day,.... never been down Ffyschestrete? bet you have, it`s now called Fish Street and was the site in medieval days of the old fish market.
Fish was sold here from the early 1500`s right up to the mid 1800`s although the fish market did move around a bit, probably due to the smell!! around 1647 the fish sellers moved to St John`s Hill then came down to the Green market in the Square before moving back to Fish Street in 1763.
Because Shrewsbury was such an important market town fishmongers would travel from afar to sell their goods and they would have to pay a rental, a bit like you pay at a car boot these days for your pitch, and at the end of the day they would have to pay another fee to have the road cleaned up so, the fishmongers let it be known, via the Town crier, that anything in the middle of the street was free!!! this was a good plan because in those days if you didnt work you didnt have any money and if you had no money then you had to scavenge for your food  hence the women would come down and pick the street clean of all the fish heads and innards so that saved the fishmongers fee, clever or what?.

On the corner of Grope lane and Fish Street is Le Plat du Jour, which is French for "French food and Coffee Shop", I think, anyway it`s a wonderful little shop where you can buy all things french but in 1780 it was the site of `the Bear` public house and it was around here that one of the bear pits was situated, the other main pit was in the Quarry, if you look in the doorway of Le Plat you will see a ring set in the stone, this was used to help lower the casks into the cellar but it was also where the bear were tied to before going into the pit, now for the "I didn`t know that" bit... all main towns and villages had it`s own bear pit, (it was the entertainment of the day, a bit like a medieval version of Coronation Street) and if you were a stranger in a town wanting directions they would direct you via the bear pit hence nowadays when you look at a map etc, you "take your bearings"

Opposite Le Plat is the Bear Steps a marvellous timber framed building that, thanks to the Shrewsbury Civic Society, was rescued from demolition it is now home of the Civic Society but also houses many exhibitions throughout the year and is certainly well worth a visit, there is also a coffee shop overlooking St Aulkmunds churchyard but mind your head it has low beams!!
Also In Fish Street we have the wonderful Three Fishes pub, first recorded as simply `The Fishes` in 1780 and then in 1826 as `the old Three Fishes`and then from 1829 it became known as`The Three Fishes` it was the first pub in Shrewsbury to ban smoking many years ago and it`s taken all the rest of the Country a long time to catch up!.
A few doors down from the pub is a house that has a plaque on it recording the fact that The Rev. John Wesley, the founder of the methodist movement, preached in the house on his visit to the town on March 16th 1761. He was reported as saying that "Preaching to the people of Shrewsbury is like trying to convert quicksand"!!! I dont think he visited us to many times after that.

Dominating the top of Fish Street is St Aulkmunds, first built in the year 912 it was rebuilt in the late 1700`s and it has the ghost of one Robin Archerson who appears either on the spire or sitting in the Three Fishes. The story goes that Robin was a steeplejack who helped to build the spire when the church was rebuilt in the 1700`s and as he was sitting in the pub one day some local lads came in and bet him a gallon of beer that he couldnt climb the spire and remove the weathercock, which he promptly did and fair enough the lads paid him his dues, after everyone had had a jolly good laugh they realised that the weathervane had got to be replaced, and it was going to cost money so, the lads waited until Robin had almost finished his gallon of beer and then bet him another gallon that he couldnt do the reverse journey! Robin picked up the weathervane, tucked it under his arm, staggered out of the pub up the spire and replaced the item, then stepped back to admire his handi-work. 174 ft later he came to a sudden halt!! The local paper of the day reported that he was killed by the fall, but thats not quiet true, it wasn`t the fall that killed him, it was the landing!!! 

See you soon

Martin

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Martin Wood Martin Wood
The Shrewsbury Town Crier.

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Comments

Brilliant article on the history of that area, which is one of the nicest areas in the whole of Shrewsbury in my opinion. The only correction I'd have to make is that 'Le Plat Du Jour' means the 'Dish of the Day.' Other than that brilliant article and hope to read more soon.

Matt

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