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St. Alkmund's Passage

History of the Shut

Alkmund literally means temple protector.

Alkmund was an 8th Century prince, murdered and made a martyr. His bones were laid in Derby until his great-grandaughter, Ethelfleda the Lady of the Mercians, founded St.Alkmund's Church and brought his bones to Shrewsbury.

For over 1,000 years there has been a St.Alkmund's Church - but where are his bones now, and does his spirit guard them?

Who helped Amy create the story

Members of Shrewsbury Civic Society aided Amy in creating this story.

Amongst their many good works towards preserving and valuing Shrewsbury's archetectural landscape the Civic Society were responsible for the restoration of the Bear's Steps.

Their offices are housed above the steps, and their tasteful re-creation of a mediaeval hall is an art gallery.

busy brainstorming
The Story Of St.Alkmund's Passage

There was once a young man who hated going to church. It seemed such a waste of a perfectly good day off. Still, those were the days when everybody had to go to church and each week his mother dragged him along.

As he sat on the hard pew, his mind would wander from the sermon towards the collection plate, the silver goblets and the other valuables. He came to the conclusion that the church didn't appreciate what it had and that he could use it much better.

One night, he crept through the churchyard and into the church itself. He began to fill his bag with silver. Gradually he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise up and became convinced that someone was watching him.

He turned to see the figure of a man rising from the ground. The man was glowing with a silver light and growing larger and larger until his head reached the roof of the church. It was St. Alkmund, the temple protector and the protector of this church in particular.

"HOW DARE YOU STEAL FROM GOD?!" thundered the figure.

The robber turned and started to run. He dived out of the side door of the church and the figure followed, standing on the step.

escape route into Dogpole

"ARISE" shouted the silver man, lifting his left arm. There was the grating sound of stone on stone as all the gravestones on the left side of the graveyard slowly slid over one another, leaving dark holes open in the moonlight.

"ARISE" shouted the silver man, lifting his right arm. Now the rest of the graves began to open, turf rippling away from the graves, stones falling.

From out of the ground bodies began to rise from the soil, clumps of earth falling from their yellowed shrouds. All the dead of the church yard began to slowly stagger their unused limbs towards the robber, from eyeless skeletons to the newly dead with their cold grey clammy skin, all carrying the smell of mould and mildew and the faint sweet smell of decaying flesh.

The young man grew pale and began to run. Still they followed. He made his way out of the churchyard and down St. Alkmund's passage towards his home on Wyle Cop. Still they followed.

He began throwing his takings at them. Cup followed chalice, chalice followed candlestick. Still they followed, nearly all the way to the passage until only the collection plate was left and that too he threw over his shoulder.

As they caught the plate the figures melted away leaving only that faint, sweet, rotten stench behind.

From that day on the young man always made his way to church on Sunday with never a word of complaint and he slowly gained the reputation of the most honest man Shrewsbury had ever known.

copyright Amy Douglas 2001

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