Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival

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Things to do


Date of travel

April, 2019

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Every April cartoonists gather in Shrewsbury, Shropshire for the annual International Cartoon Festival. The main event usually takes place in The Square but the weather forecast was for rain, so the caricturists took their big boards into the Darwin Shopping Centre where it was dry and brightly lit. Curious shoppers stopped to chuckle at the sketches as they were coming to life. Each year has a different theme and 2019 it was “Animals”, with some of these being political and topical.

We also went to see the exhibition at the Bear Steps Gallery entitled “Born to be Wild”. To find the building from the High Street, you walk down Grope Lane to Fish Street and it is in St Alkmund’s Place. The Gallery is in a mediaeval building that was saved from demolition in 1963 by the Civic Society. A member of the Society gave us a potted history of Bear Steps Hall and the adjoining properties. There is an iron ring in the ground where a bear used to be tethered and made to dance. The narrow street called Grope Lane was, as the name suggests, a notorious haunt of prostitutes. (Apparently, there is one of these in every ancient town, but in straight-laced Victorian times the names were changed to “Grape” or “Love” Lane – only easy-going Shrewsbury kept the name!) St Alkmund King and Martyr lived in 800AD and was known to be liberal to the poor, orphans and widows.

After leaving Bear Steps we walked through Church Street to the Church of St Mary the Virgin. This redundant Anglican church, which is now used for a variety of purposes, has many beautiful interior features including magnificent stained glass windows. There was a craft fair in progress the day we visited. Our main objective was to visit the small cafe in the corner run by the Battlefield 1403 farm shop and deli. Delicious home-made cakes – say no more!

The lovely old town of Shrewsbury holds events throughout the year. This was the first time we have seen the Cartoon Festival and it was a delight.


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