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Shrewsbury Streetscape – Wyle Cop
12 Mar 2021
by Stan Sedman

This exquisite drawing forms part of an ongoing project to record the historic streetscape of Shrewsbury by artist and architect James St Clair Wade, with words by Stan Sedman.

The above Streetscape scene of 18-24 Wyle Cop displays perfectly the eclectic mix of businesses found along both sides of the street, making it a much-loved shopper’s paradise. All but one (Nag’s Head) are located in Grade II listed buildings from the 18th century with modern shop fronts.

Look closely at No 19 is, however, and you’ll notice it’s actually a painted brick façade on a 16/17th century timber-framed building. 

From left to right, we start with the Christian bookshop Illuminate, then Wyle Blue World with handmade treasures from around the world.  Next up is Café on the Cop with cakes to die for, followed by Shrewsbury Herbarium, the Nag’s Head public house, Graphic Heart for graphic design, then uniiQ with designer furniture gifts and homeware and finally This Way a hairdresser. 

Over previous years, the mix was very different and included: drapers, tailors, a fruiterer, stationer, boot maker, chemist, butcher, refreshment rooms and the headquarters and stores of the Shropshire Yeomanry.

Tucked behind Wyle Blue World (No 19) is a magical secret garden and Blue Bar with stunning views of areas of the Town and we look forward to the return of their popular pizza nights after lockdown. This is a perfect example of many such hidden gems which can be discovered amongst our streets and buildings.

The Nag’s Head public house (No 22) has been dated to the 15th century (Grade II Listed) with later alterations in the 19th and 20th centuries.   It was first recorded as a public house from 1786 and has been in continuous use from that date.   The second storey juts out four feet over the pathway. In the corner of the front room is a cupboard on which is a painting, reputedly one of the prophets leading to various tales of it being haunted and active with poltergeists.   Reports of three suicides in the room have been recorded – a coachman hanged himself, a woman threw herself out of one of the windows and a soldier on leave shot himself. All good for one of Shrewsbury’s famous ghost tours on a foggy winters night. 

At the rear of the building, there are the remains of a hall house which was located between the inner and outer Town walls and has been dated to 1421.  The main hall was dismantled in 1960 and moved to Avonscroft Museum in Worcestershire and all that is remaining are the screens passage, service doors and the solar end.  This can be viewed from the beer garden at the rear of the pub. Unfortunately, the years have taken their toll, as it is open to the elements.

In the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol, filmed in Shrewsbury and starring George C. Scott, it was used for a scene where the spirit of Christmas Future took Scrooge to witness his property and clothing being sold after his death.

No 23 was a chemist for well over a century. In 1809, Robert Blunt and his family moved to Shrewsbury establishing his business here. He was later joined by his sons Henry and Robert as “Blunt and Sons Chemists and Druggists” adding soda water manufacturing and ginger beer.

Henry became a keen astronomer and in 1849, constructed a model, based on his observations with his reflecting telescope, of the moon’s surface showing the lunar crater Eratosthenes. The model was displayed a The Great Exhibition in 1851 and is now held in the Science Museum. Henry was also a talented watercolour artist. Some of his paintings are in the collections of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and are good depictions of life in the town at that time.

  • Limited edition prints of this Streetscape are available. For more details visit www.streetscapeproject.com or email stclairwade@gmail.com
  • See also the Shrewsbury Streetscape project Facebook page or Instagram @shrewsbury_streetscape_project