Join in the bake-off and the games to celebrate the 200th birthday of Wallace the Lion at Saffron Walden Museum
PUBLISHED: 22:48 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 22:48 01 August 2019
Saffron Photo 2018
Wallace the Lion will be 200 years old on Friday, August 9 and to celebrate, there will be a children’s party at Saffron Walden Museum.
Wallace the Lion will be 200 years old on Friday, August 9 and to celebrate, there will be a children's party at Saffron Walden Museum.
Wallace, known to most people because of the poem Albert and the Lion, recited by the late actor Stanley Holloway, was actually a real lion.
He was born in Edinburgh in 1812, the first African lion to be bred in England and named after William Wallace, the Scottish freedom fighter. He travelled the country in a touring circus run by Mr George Wombwell in an act fighting dogs.
When Wallace died in 1838, he was sent to the Saffron Walden Museum by stagecoach. He was stuffed and mounted with his left front paw theatrically posed on the figure of a dog, in remembrance of his triumph in the fighting pit. The first museum catalogue published in 1845 read: "Lion Barbarus Grey (The Lion Wallace) Presented by Mr. G. Wombwell. This animal is remarkable as the first lion bred in this country and was during his life of 25 years in collection of Mr. G. Wombwell, surviving his battle with the dogs at Warwick, several years."
Wallace was a fighter and he did bite the arm of a man, a zoo visitor who put his arm through the grating into his cage. Though a tragic event, even in those days, this inspired a humourous poem by Marriott Edgar, The Lion and Albert is about young boy named Albert who was eaten by a lion at the zoo:
Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild -
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn't seem right to the child.
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So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with its 'orse's 'ead 'andle
And pushed it in Wallace's ear.
You could see that the Lion didn't like it,
For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im,
And swallowed the little lad 'ole.
The poem goes on to express Abert's mother's disappointment that Albert was wearing his best suit. She says: "Well, I am vexed!"
At the party, there will be games, a museum trail and a cake competition called Wallace's Great Big Birthday Bake-off. Contestants need to take their decorated cake to the museum on August 9 between 11am and noon. There will also be a Wallace display, a Wallace trail round the museum, and visitors can see Wallace get a special birthday clean.