History of the Shut
Here is an old rhyme that features Gullet Passage:
Don't you know the muffin man?
Don't you know his name?
Don't you know the muffin man,
That lives down our lane?
All round the Butter Cross
Up and down St.Giles'
Up and down the Gullet Shut
And call at Molly Miles'.
(Molly Miles was the landlady of the Gullet Inn)
Who helped Amy create the story
This story was created by an open session at Mythstories. All comers were welcome to participate.
The Story Of Gullet Passage
The dragon slowly felt his mind coming back into focus. He lifted the heavy lids of his eyes and began to open his mouth to yawn and began to stretch. But there was something in the way and he couldn't manage to break free.
He stretched again and yawned and this time the pavement lifted. The dragon's glittering eyes became fixed on one human coming towards him because he was carrying something and he was sure that was where the smell was emanating from. His tongue slipped out between his teeth and licked his lips. It was the muffin man.
He forced his eyes open, looked around and saw walls. Stone walls, hard, cold, wet, dull, grey stones, walls, buildings, doors. This wasn't here when he went to sleep! What had happened to his swamp? He had liked his swamp, but now his bog and his stream was all tied up in stones. He was walled in and stuck fast. He couldn't seem to move anything at all!
Then a trickle of water came between two stones and tickled his nose. He sniffed, he sniffed again and a wisp of smoke escaped from his nostrils. He breathed out and his hot breath shrank the wet ground and dried it up. A crack appeared and the slabs began to move. He wiggled his head and he opened his eyes. He sniffed again and there was a smell, a wonderful smell.
He was used to damp, dark smells, but this was the most beautiful smell he had ever imagined. He realised he hadn't eaten for centuries and to echo that thought his stomach began rumbling and the rumble stretched from his middle and extended right the way down his tail and his tail quivered. It touched the gold he had been wrapped around for such a long time and sent piles of it flying into the gaps beneath the pavement.
He'd been making his rounds of the town and was approaching his last stop, Molly Miles' Inn. As it was the last stop, and the last inn, and the ground was slippy with the rain, he was a little unsteady on his feet. But the next step he took, the ground was not only wet, but it moved, wriggled beneath his feet! He leaned against a wall to steady himself. He took another step and he fell flat on his face. His tray went spinning up into the air. The muffin man watched as the ground rose up caught his tray and swallowed it. With wide eyes, he backed into the pub and said,
"Molly, Molly, come quick, the ground's eating my muffins!" They both crept outside into the alleyway and sure enough, the paving slabs were rising up and down in time to a crunch, crunch, crunch. They got very close and peered in, and sure enough they saw huge pearly teeth, crunching on a tray of toasty brown muffins.
"That'll be the bank. Those bankers, they trap you all ways. I sympathise with you, I really do. But you can't stay here, you're going to frighten all my customers away!"
Then they heard a voice - talking to them, "That's the first meal I've had for a 1000, years and it's the best thing I've ever tasted! Have you got any more?"
"More? Well, not really" said the muffin man, "that was the last batch of the day"
"Oh please, and then my stomach might stop rumbling. I'd get out and find my own food, but I can't seem to get out. Someone's covered me in stones"
It soon became obvious that the dragon couldn't do anything else but stay where he was. As the muffin man and Molly were rather anxious the dragon didn't turn nasty, they thought they better get some more muffins before he got the idea of eating Molly's customers.
The muffin man made an enormous batch of muffins for the dragon. Molly came with him to see what happened - and also, she thought, if the dragon's hungry…, he's probably thirsty as well and she'd brought a couple of flagons of ale.
As time went on and the dragon seemed quite content with muffins and ale and showed no sign of eating anyone, he became quite good for trade. Rather than frightening customers away he became a tourist attraction and people got used to the dragon in the shut.
This went on for weeks. No one stopped to consider what effect all those muffins and all that beer would have on the dragon, especially as he was trapped and couldn't use up his energy in flying. Day by day, his girth slowly increased until one day the dragon stretched and yawned after his usual tray of muffins and gallon of beer and something happened. The paving slabs above and around him rippled. The walls began to bow and he manage to wriggle free - it was wonderful!
Molly Miles and the muffin man were not quite so convinced that this was a wonderful turn of events After all, now he was free, he might not be quite so tame as he had been before. They needn't have worried though. Dragons are very loyal and this particular dragon was very loyal to those who had kept him fed and watered when they could have just let him waste away. And so every day the dragon circled the town and came to rest outside the pub where yet again it was fed and watered by Molly and the muffin man. The thing was, when he broke free of the passage way and out of the paving slabs, the sweep of his tail as he slid out from beneath the market square had broken some of the bank vault walls and worse, some of Molly's cellar walls. Molly wasn't too happy about the hole in the wall of her pub, but her face started to brighten, when gold coins began to roll and trickle and stream into her cellars from the bank vaults.
The bank wasn't too happy about this, but the money had never really belonged to the bank in the first place, it was the dragon's hoard. And when they looked up at the dragon with a small flame licking from the corner of his mouth and his set of sharp teeth, they decided not to make an issue over it.
Molly and the muffin man were delighted with the loot and it certainly helped pay off the debts they had gathered from feeding the dragon. They even had enough money to afford to get married, to sell Gullet inn, which with the huge hole in the wall soon became named after that rather than the Gullet of the Dragon, buy a house in Wales and there they retired, taking the dragon with them. After all, the Welsh didn't seem quite as perturbed by a dragon wandering around as did the people of Shrewsbury.
But the memory of the Dragon remains. Gullet passage is still named after the long hungry gullet lying along the passage and if you raise your eyes and look at the walls of Shrewsbury there are still a few dragons to be found, carvings and pictures of the dragon as it circled the town.
copyright Amy Douglas 2001