The Shoemakers’ Arbour

Paula’s black and white Sunday this week is ‘Traces of the Past’.

“We are but images of stone, Do us no harm we can do nonne”.

the shoemakers arbor b&W

What scenes of revelry these old mutilated effigies must have seen in those far-off days, but then, can stone eyes see? Can stone hearts feel? Mayhap it is a blessing at times if they cannot.

~ from Black Velvet written by the late Ron Nurse

The Shoemakers’ Arbour is found in the Dingle, a former stone quarry and now a sunken garden in the Quarry Park, Shrewsbury. Associated with the pre-Victorian town festival, and originally sited in Kingsland, it was moved to the Dingle in 1879. It dates from 1679 and includes statues of Crispin and Crispinian, the patron saints of shoemakers. The gateway is built of stone, and bears the date of 1679 and the initials, H. P. and E. A.; the wardens of the Shoemakers’ guild at that time.

The Shoemakers’ Arbour plays a large part in the song Thomas Anderson by David Harley that describes the execution in 1752 of a participant in the Jacobite rising of 1745. Click on the link for the song and more information about the Shoemaker’s Arbour and the death of Thomas Anderson.

We are but images of stone
Do us no harm
We can do none
St. Crispin and St. Crispian are we
On the arch of the Shoemaker’s arbour

High above the river on Kingsland we stood
On the gate to the hall of the shoemakers’ guild
Where the bakers, the tailors, the butchers, the smiths
And the saddlers too their guild arbours built.
Each year in procession the guilds gave a show
And marched through the town to the sound of the drum:
Then it’s back to Kingsland to feast and carouse
And enjoy the great day the guild members come.

We are but images of stone
Do us no harm
We can do none
St. Crispin and St. Crispian are we
On the arch of the Shoemaker’s arbour

On the 10th of June 1752
In a house called The Crown that stood on Pride Hill
John Richards’ workmen received a week’s pay
And there they stayed and drank their fill.
When a redcoat patrol chanced to pass by
The men  mocked and reviled them with Jacobite songs
And who struck the first blow no-one was sure
But a bloody riot soon raged through the town.

The authorities trembled with passion and fear
When news of this Jacobite outburst was known
For the House of Hanover had won few hearts
And the Stuarts still plotted to win back the throne.
And so that same year, one raw day in December,
The rebellious townsfolk of Salop looked on
While below the old arch of the Shoemaker’s Arbour
They made an example of Tom Anderson

Who was once spared by death on the field of Culloden
Then joined the dragoons but deserted, they say,
Only to die on the banks of the Severn
By firing squad on a cold Winter’s day.
When the black velvet suit was stripped from his body
The Chevalier’s colours were beneath it, it’s said,
Received from the hands of Bonny Prince Charlie
Whose cause like young Thomas is broken and dead.

For it’s 200 years since Bonny Prince Charlie
Died drunk and embittered, an old man in Rome
While a century ago in the flowers of the Dingle
The old arbour gateway found a new home.
Now who’s to remember the Shoemakers’ Guild
Or the Jacobite rebels who fought for a throne?
And who’s left to grieve for Tom Anderson
But these two hearts of stone?

We are but images of stone
Do us no harm
We can do none
St. Crispin and St. Crispian are we
On the arch of the Shoemaker’s arbour

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Published by

Heyjude

I now live in the UK, but spent several years travelling and then living in South Africa. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

27 thoughts on “The Shoemakers’ Arbour”

  1. Thank you for the link and lesson Jude. I have now read about St Crispin and Crispinian in Wiki. Your treatment of the gate looks just right.

    1. I thought it would be nice to use something that is unusual with an interesting historical tale attached. The link in my post leads to a very good article about the Jacobite Rebellion and the death of Thomas Anderson, as well as the song inspired by the article and written and sung by the OH 🙂 I know you enjoy music so you might enjoy it, though I’m not sure whether you like traditional folk songs.

  2. What a lovely thing, Jude! And the setting looks beautiful. 🙂 I love the idea of a patron saint for shoemakers. Rough old times! Not too very much better now.

    1. Fascinating history. I’m sure most people seeing this arch have no idea what it means. I will eventually get around to posting the actual garden in which it stands!

  3. You’re right, Jude. I would visit this arch and have no idea what it meant. What an interesting history! … and a poem to go with it. I think I will be left with the refrain in my head “Do us no harm.
    We can do none”.

    1. The OH wrote the song inspired by Ron Nurse’s article about the death of Thomas Anderson. A very turbulent time in our history. You do have to wonder what old stones could tell us. Like ancient trees.

        1. Well, I’ve sung it in an awful lot of places. (Also a lot of awful places, but I’m getting over that now.) The tune does borrow a bit from the traditional carol The Bells of Paradise, which Ron used to sing quite a lot. So that might be why it sounds familiar to you.

  4. An intriguing history, Jude. I think Jo was so right about times not having improved much. Love the B&W treatment of this image. It makes it look even more ancient. I’m all for shoemakers. 🙂

    1. Well the song is all the OH’s so he should take the credit not me. I simply took the photo. I wouldn’t have known anything about it but for him.

  5. I had a listen. Folk music is not really my thing, but I love the lyrics to this song. A nice melange of photos, history, and music, Jude.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

      1. Actually, I was then, too, but it was never going to work as a 12-bar. 😉 It created some confusion at the time when it found its way into my sets and was the only thing there that sounded remotely trad. English. My next project, though, was settings of some verses from A Shropshire Lad, which balanced out the sets a bit better. But that’s another story…

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