Some random guy at the pub, whose name I never got, told me that about twenty years ago he lost his virginity at the top of Lord Hills Column, a 133 foot tall column with a statue of Lord Hill at the top. The viewing platform is still a few feet below the actual statue itself, though. Nevertheless I presume it was the viewing platform where this chap did the deed. How spectacular. Back in the day, the council would lend the key out to whoever happened to enquire, making it temporarily accessible to the public. However, at some point they stopped. This sort of thing happens when people use the opportunity to shoot their DNA into other people.
I told the guy that I could beat his story, to which he responded "Oh yeah? Where did you lose your virginity?"
"I don't mean fornication," I replied. "I mean Lord Hill."
And then I showed him a picture of my phone of me sat on Lord Hills shoulder, from the time I climbed up there a few years back. His jaw dropped, so for good measure, and because I like to brag, I showed him pictures of me on top of other notable Shrewsbury landmarks. Once his eyes had stopped bleeding, he said "Okay, you win. But all of your blogs photos from the top of Lord Hills column are unfocused and dark, and I can't see much."
And Goddammit, he's right. It's time to revisit the mighty goliath!
Photo taken from Wikipedia
This adventure was different from my usual, in that I had to procure a key. Don't worry, I did give it back. And while it would have been great to share the view from yet another of Shrewsburys notable landmarks with my accomplice Tree Surgeon, he was unable to make it. He's a week away from being a daddy. Isn't that awesome? He'll probably be joining me on a lot less adventures. But I'm not bitter because his lady, Ms K, has used magic to reverse my alopecia, which has a massive impact on my social anxiety and overall confidence. This is a big deal because sadly I am a slave to my vanity, and an overall self loving individual. Not to an arrogant extent, of course. I love being me and I sincerely hope that you love being you, too. It's not a competition. In fact, I think our natural inclinations towards a heirarchy where one is either superior or inferior, is something the human race needs to overcome. In a survival-of-the-fittest scenario it comes into play, but humans have transcended natural selection and our means of measuring someones worth. Nowadays it seems to be measured in the number of digits in your monthly income.
The world needs to outgrow that. Managers, bosses, office workers, sitting around getting rich on the backs of the wage slaves, these aren't the role models you're looking for. The role models of today are the people who are happy, no matter what, and doing what they love.
So here are my shots of Lord Hill's Column.
Lord Hill's Column is the tallest doric column in England, doric being the architectural style derived from the Greeks. Construction started in 1814 and finished in 1816.
On top of the column stands a statue of Lord Hill, known as Rowland to his family and, uh, Daddy Hill, to those who served under him. The nickname derives from how he protected and looked after his troops. He provided his wounded with lunch baskets, and he responded to fan mail by buying them supper. It seems that Lord Hill was something of a military legend.
He was born in 1772, and commissioned into an infantry regiment of the British army in 1790 when he was eighteen. A year later he was promoted to Lietenant, and through various military campaigns against the Napoleonic Empire, he rose swiftly through the ranks, before finally becoming Colonel in 1800.
In 1801 he was injured while driving French troops out of Egypt, but it didn't stop him. In fact he went on to have one hell of a successful military career, fighting in the battle of Waterloo and reaching legend status during the Battle of Nive in 1813. It sounds like something straight out of a movie. Lord Hill had 13,000 men and only ten guns. They were trapped on the bank of the river by a broken bridge, and they somehow managed to hold off the attack of 30,000 enemy troops, with 22 guns. A historic record of the battle says of Lord Hill "He was seen at every point of danger, and repeatedly led up rallied regiments in person to save what seemed like a lost battle. He was even heard to swear."
Doesn't that just make him sound like a great guy? It took being heavily outnumbered more than two to one to finally get him to utter a swear word, and he still won the battle! What a guy!
He died in 1842 and having never married, his inheritance passed on to his nephew, who was also named Rowland.
Upon entry into the column, I saw this chest. The contents are unknown.
The stairs spiral upwards and can be a little fatiguing. Ordinarily I'd recommend just running up them in a massive burst of energy, but the column has a way of slowing me down. You see, there's a secret message to be read along the way.
The little-known message is in the stair railing, and one must stop to look at each letter and word, to piece together what is being said. Given the steep spiral staircase of 172 steps, this is more tiring than it looks.
The message reads "This staircase was the gift of John Straphen, the builder, as his donation towards erecting this column. The first stone of the foundation was laid December 27 1814, and completed June 18 1816, the anniversary of the glorious battle of Waterloo."
Given that the message refers to the completion of the column, I'm assuming that the staircase was donated later, which begs the question why they built it absent of a stairway. I assume they had prior knowledge that the stairs would be provided by John Straphen.
At the top of the column, both inside and outside, is loads of graffiti. It's very similar to the flag tower, Radbrook college, Wakeman College and also the Library. It's wonderful to see! I mean nowadays we live in a world where some wazzock will scrawl "White power" next to a swastika in a toilet cubicle, something even Hitler would cringe at, and it'll get wiped off and forgotten. However this is historic. This is people getting to somewhere thats not ordinarily acessible and leaving their mark on the world.
Written very faintly above "Jon Edwards" is the phrase "We had sex." The date is partially obstructed by Jon but I think its 9/92.
I guess Lord Hills column was the place to be.
From up here one can see Lord Hill himself, leaning on his sword. This is the closest I can get to him today- when I climbed up there previously, he had scaffolding up to his waist.
Meanwhile check out the view!
There's the abbey over in the distance and beyond that is the Parade Shopping Centre and a load of other places I've climbed, standing out the most is the clocktower.
Isn't it fucking beautiful?
It's difficult to tell, but I think thats Meole Brace church over there.
This white building is the doctors at Monkmoor.
Sticking up near the centre of this image, I think, is the Freemasons church.
And right over there is Shrewsbury boys school.
At the foot of the column is the council offices, decorated with solar panels and looking like it should have a gun turret.
My sources tell me that there's a nuclear bunker under the council building, but accessing it is probably impossible. The tunnel network that leads to it is also used by police to access the court.
Allegedly the area that has the trees was once much prettier, decorated with loads of fountains, kinda like what they have in Manchester. I guess this feature was considered too nice for a government building in Shrewsbury.
Have one final shot of the town centre. Near the clocktower you can just see St Julians church and St Chads church, and at the very right hand edge of the image is Laura's Tower. Being able to see how much of this town I've actually climbed on is brilliant. I get such a rush from being high up like this. However, I should probably return thecolumns key...
Anyway, that's all I've got today. Next time I've got another abandoned house to show you, and it's got a peculiar feature to it... I can't wait.
If you enjoyed this blog post, share it on the social media of your choice, and follow my Instagram, my Twitter and like my Facebook page.
And as always, and most importantly, if you know anyone who is struggling, and not doing so great, give them a boost, even if its a few minutes from your day to listen to them. Be Daddy Hill, and buy them supper. Human beings tragically underestimate the impact that they have on each other, but what needs to be talked about more is the fact that so many people suffer in isolation. Talk to each other, hug each other, turn someones day around.
Thanks for reading! Stay awesome!