The Frankwell gem that rose again

We know we're in for a ticking off from Alan Bason of Shrewsbury if we get things wrong, and sadly we've upset Alan again.

The historic building at Shrewsbury which was rebuilt at a museum.
The historic building at Shrewsbury which was rebuilt at a museum.

It was Alan who chastised us a while back for attributing the famous line from A Shropshire Lad "'Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun, Are the quietest places, Under the sun," to A E Housman – he pointed out that it is an old country rhyme and not Housman's work.

And now a photo we carried a while ago of an historic black and white building in Frankwell, Shrewsbury, has prompted Alan to put pen to paper again.

We carried this photo of the old String of Horses pub, dating from around 1910, and said it was certainly taken after 1907 because the Co-op by then was in the building.

"The picture is not of the Co-op, it's George Stealey's," Alan tells us.

"The String of Horses was delicensed in 1907 but before then the frontage had been altered and above the arch – about where Owen's van is parked in the picture – was occupied by The London Central Meat Co.

"Below the arch was Stealey's, a grocer I think, and if you look at the name above the window it most certainly isn't Co-operative."

"I can't discern what's shown in the window. My pal Roger Amiss thinks it's bottles. I think it's ladies' boots of the type made by Will Mossop, so perhaps Mr Stealey wasn't a grocer at all.

"Exactly when it became the Co-op I can't say. It was certainly the Co-op in the early 1950s."

The 16th century String of Horses stood at Frankwell for almost 400 years before it had to make way for the big Frankwell traffic island.

The building being re-erected at Avoncroft in 1976.

It was rebuilt at the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings, at Stoke Heath, near Bromsgrove. The rebuilt building reopened at Avoncroft in 1976, and is now an Edwardian tea room just beyond the main entrance, so it is the first building most visitors see.

The museum – it bills itself as England's first open-air museum – was at the time in its infancy, having been opened in 1967, specifically set up to rescue examples of timber-framed buildings which were demolished or for various reasons had no future on their original site.

Historically, the String of Horses was quite important as a typical late 16th century Tudor merchant’s house. It had originally been built in 1576 for a Shrewsbury merchant called John Worral and was built as two adjoining houses.

For much of its history it was used as a coaching inn, going by a number of names – the Royal Oak, and then the Cross Keys, and finally in the 19th century, the String of Horses.

Early in the 20th century there was a severe fire on the ground floor, and that floor was substantially rebuilt in 1912. At some unknown point after that it became a Co-op shop.

It was dismantled in August 1970 and then taken by road to Avoncroft in March 1971.

Sadly the old Shrewsbury Co-op was one of the buildings which suffered damage in May when vandals smashed windows on the very day the museum reopened after the coronavirus lockdown, leading to it having immediately to close again. It is now reopen.

There are other rescued Shropshire buildings at Avoncroft – the ice house from Tong Castle and the Cockpit Theatre from behind the Crown Inn, Bridgnorth.

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