Yesterday we visited the first of the two buildings we had chosen from the twenty one different venues opened up across the
The Leopard stands on the market place in Burslem opposite the old town hall building which now houses the Ceramica project. It has stood on this site in one form or other for around 400 years. According to our guide for the afternoon, who was suitably or perhaps unsuitably (given the state of the building) dressed for the occasion in a flowery, lacy late 18th century style costume, records for the year 1640 show the building was three cottages. It had certainly become one building and an inn by 1765 because it was here, according to Josiah Wedgwood in one of his letters, that in March of that year, he dined with canal engineer James Brindley . The inn, at this time, was owned by Ellen Wedgwood, a relative of Josiah whose Ivy House Pottery works stood opposite, where the modern Ceramica building is now. It was in 1857 after years of neglect that Mary Lees took over as owner and gradually turned The Leopard from a small inn to one of the most prestigious hotels of the area and known locally as ‘the Savoy of the Midlands’.
We were taken into the dining room where Wedgwood and Brindley would have discussed plans for the
Two corridors of bedrooms in great disrepair, two bathrooms and two toilets on each floor. The top floor corridor along which we were allowed to walk was home to nesting pigeons and other birds. The owners hope to bring at least one floor back to it’s former glory as a hotel but being listed it is difficult to get around planning permission and the modern day need for en-suite facilities. Photography was difficult and after taking one photo of the outside, I kept my camera firmly in my bag but Paul managed to get a few photos, particularly of the different wall coverings still intact in some of the rooms.
In his some of his novels local author Arnold Bennett called The Leopard, The Tiger and the town of