The historic town of Much Wenlock lies at the eastern end of the famous Wenlock Edge. It is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The author Mary Webb once described Much Wenlock as "Somewhere in the Middle Ages it had fallen asleep".
Much Wenlock's history started in the Dark Ages, when a monastery was founded around 680. King Merewald gave the monastery to his daughter St. Milburga. The monastery flourished until 1540 and the remains of a later norman monastery can be explored by visitors.
The small town the grew up around the monastery was granted its royal charter as a borough in 1468.
Wenlock Edge is a famous wooded limestone escarpment and is renowned for its dramatic views, fossils and wild flowers. it offers superb views from all around and is ideal walking country.
The towns Guildhall is Much Wenlock's finest Tudor building. It is a half timbered building that sits in the centre of town and and houses the towns magnificent courtroom and council chamber. The Guildhall was used as a local meeting place and it still stands to this day. The lower part of the structure is said to date from the 15th century and the wooden part dates from 1577.
It was here in sleepy little Much Wenlock that the modern Olympic Games found their inspiration.
Dr William Penny Brookes, a local doctor and GP, born here in 1809, campaigned internationally (and eventually successfully) for the revival of the ancient Greek Games. "To promote the Moral and Physical Benefits of Exercise", said the good Doctor.He was a tireless campaigner and altogether a good egg. He will not be forgotten. Much Wenlock still hosts the Wenlock Olympic Games annually and best of all Great Britain always tops the medals table.
The Shropshire Olympian's Games were founded in 1861. They included a range of athletic and country events including a three mile Penny-farthing bicycle race and a wheelbarrow race. 'Putting the Stone' is oldest traditional event, still maintained. It's a contest between two local quarries.
Sadly, Dr Brookes died, aged 87, just four months before the first international Olympic Games were held in April 1896.
His grave is located in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, in sight of the house where he once lived.
The Parish Church is large, and has a splendid west front. On the outside wall of the south aisle are some examples of Early English, incorporating one of the 3 or 4 small chapels of St Milburgas original abbey. A fine medieval example of "Waste notte, Want nowt!".
The Much Wenlock Museum tells the history of the town and the geology of the local area. It also houses an impressive collection of original Olympic memorabilia. Displays include a database of artifacts and photographs from past Wenlock Olympic Games.
Much Wenlock's Olympian connections are celebrated throughout the town by the Olympian Trail. The trail leads visitors around the town and passes important historical sites associated with William Penny Brookes whose vision led to the revival of the Olympian Games.
For more information about the Much Wenlock Olympian games, please visit the Much Wenlock Olympian Society website