Welcome to the final chapter of Jaini’s Welsh Weekend. We end our little getaway in Much Wenlock – a small town in England.
What an adventure this weekend was! Thank you for reading and letting me relive my special memories of this trip 🙂
After spending two relaxing nights at our hired cottage in Knighton, I was ready to go back to London and get on with ticking off things off my long shopping list! But to break the long voyage back, we stopped for a bit in Much Wenlock.
Much Wenlock is a small and picturesque town in Shropshire, England (so no, it’s not in Wales) and not too far from Ironbridge.
We got there sometime in the afternoon, parked on a street, and hopped out to embark on a leisurely stroll through the town.Home to the father of the modern Olympics – Dr. William Penny Brookes, Much Wenlock has a population of around 3000 people. On the streets we walked through, we could see a variety of Medieval, Georgian and Victorian well-maintained residential houses. The streets were all void of people, as it was a Sunday and so a majority of the shops were closed. This was surprising to me as it is known as a tourist town.
We took a short walk to the Wenlock Priory, the ruins of an Anglo-Saxon monastery found there in 680AD by King Merewalh of Mercia, whose daughter Milburge was hailed as a saint. Her relics were miraculously re-discovered here in 1101, attracting both pilgrims and prosperity to the priory. Parts of the great 13th-century church still stands high. We didn’t have much time, so we peeked at the church ruins seen from the outside and decided to instead hang at the town center.
While some of us opted to relax at the Town Square – the center of life in Much Wenlock, the rest of us (including me) decided to check out the Much Wenlock Museum and Visitor Information Centre.
In the museum, I learned about how a local surgeon, Dr. William Penny Brookes, inspired the modern Olympic Games, after initiating the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850, which still take place every July.
Dr. Brookes believed that all men were equal (regardless of class) and should be expected to vote, actively participate in governance and compete in sport. He applied the ethos of the ancient Olympic Games – that they were open to every male.
Soon the Wenlock Olympian Games were very popular across England, and so Brookes tried to prompt an Olympic Games in Athens that would be open to international competitors. Sadly, this attempt failed.
However, in 1889, when he invited Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the organizer of an international congress on Physical Education, to Much Wenlock, Coubertin was inspired to revive the modern international games. Unfortunately, Brookes died just four months before the first games of the modern Olympics that took place in Athens in 1896.
The Much Wenlock Museum also has lots of other historical artifacts, mostly related to the Olympics. Another attraction is the beautiful ancient Guildhall is open to the public during the summer months, which houses various exhibitions throughout the year and the open space on the ground floor is frequently used for markets.
After the visit to the museum, we regrouped at the Town Square, sat on the benches by Jubilee Clock, eating some ice-cream while watching life (and cute little dogs) go by, before heading back on the road again.
Photos by Diva Shah (unless otherwise stated)