Much Wenlock is a small town and parish in Shropshire, England,
situated on the
A458 road between
Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth. Nearby,
to the northeast, is the
Ironbridge Gorge, and the new town of
Much Wenlock was historically the chief town of the ancient borough of
Wenlock. The "Much" was added to the name to distinguish it from the
nearby Little Wenlock, and signifies that it is the larger of the two
settlements. Notable historic attractions in the town are Wenlock
Priory and the Guildhall. The name Wenlock probably comes from the
Celtic name Wininicas, meaning "white area" (in reference to the
limestone of Wenlock Edge), plus the Old English loca, meaning
"enclosed place". The town was recorded in the
Domesday Book as
Wenloch. The population of the town's parish, according to the 2001
census, was 2,605, increasing to 2,877 at the 2011 Census.
Wenlock Olympian Games
Wenlock Olympian Games established by Dr
William Penny Brookes
William Penny Brookes in
1850 are centred in the town. Dr Brookes is credited as a founding
father of the modern Olympic Games, and one of the Olympic mascots for
London 2012 was named Wenlock after the town.
3 Cultural associations
3.1 Other notable people
6 Twin towns
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Historic council chamber, Guildhall, Much Wenlock
Richard Fletcher mentions
Much Wenlock as one of the possible
locations where a Sub-Roman British Christian community may have
survived the Anglo-Saxon occupation and eventually integrated with the
conquerors and influenced their culture.
The town of Wenlock is known to have grown up around an abbey or
monastery founded around 680 by Merewalh, a son of King
Mercia, with the small town within its parish boundaries. King Penda
installed his daughter Milburga as abbess in 687. Milburga of Wenlock
was credited with many miraculous works. The abbey flourished until
around 874 when it is thought that a Danish
Viking attack occurred.
In the 11th century another religious house was built on the same site
by Leofric, Earl of
Mercia and Countess
Godiva his wife. In the 12th
century this was replaced by a
Cluniac priory, established by Roger de
Montgomerie after the Norman conquest, the ruins of which can still be
seen and which is now in the hands of English Heritage. It prospered
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Other architectural
attractions include the 16th century Guildhall, many other historic
buildings in the Early English style and an annual well dressing at St
Milburga's Well on Barrow Street.
Alice Glaston from
Little Wenlock was hanged together with
two men in
Much Wenlock on 13 April 1546, for an unknown
crime. She is the youngest known girl legally executed in
Sir Thomas Wolryche, 1st Baronet
Sir Thomas Wolryche, 1st Baronet (1598–1668) was an English
landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons for Wenlock
between 1621 and 1625. He fought in the Royalist army in the English
Civil War, serving as military governor of Bridgnorth. In 1611, Thomas
Wolryche's father, Francis, had taken over the mortgage of the manor
of Hughley, about 6 km from Much Wenlock. The debt was cleared in 1623
in return for the freehold of Hughley, an estate of 1,400 acres.
In the 19th century the town and much of the surrounding land came
into the possession of James Milnes Gaskell, from his wife's family
the Williams-Wynns. James was MP for Wenlock for many years. His son
Charles Milnes Gaskell restored the Priory lodging as a home with his
wife Lady Catherine, daughter of the Earl of Portsmouth. There they
entertained many famous people of the day, writers, politicians,
artists and explorers, among them Thomas Hardy, Henry Adams, Henry
James, Thomas Woolner, Henry Morton Stanley,
Isabella Bird and Phillip
Domesday Book of 1086 records the manor as 'Wenloch' and forming
part of the hundred of Patton. It was already at this time a fairly
large settlement, with 73 households. The abbey is also recorded in
the book, separately. The borough of Wenlock was incorporated
under the "Bailiff, Burgesses and Commonalty" by Edward IV in 1468 at
the request of Sir John Wenlock, and "in consideration of the laudable
services which the men of the town performed in assisting the king to
gain possession of the crown," and the charter was confirmed in 1547
by Henry VIII and in 1631 by Charles I.
Much Wenlock has become known as the birthplace of Wenlock Olympian
Games set up by Dr
William Penny Brookes
William Penny Brookes and his Wenlock Olympian
Society (WOS) in 1850. In 1861 he was also instrumental in setting up
Shropshire Games and later in 1866, the National Olympian Games.
Dr Brookes is credited as a founding father of the Modern Olympic
Games. In 1890 it was the turn of the Raven Hotel to be the venue for
the annual post Wenlock Olympian Games' dinner, and Baron Pierre de
Coubertin was the guest of honour. Copies of some of the WOS's archive
images are on display in the hotel, including letters from Coubertin
to Brookes. The Wenlock Olympian Games, a nine-day event staged on
eight sites across Shropshire, are still held annually during July,
and are still organised by WOS. Much Wenlock's secondary school is
named after Dr Brookes.
The Olympic mascot for London 2012 was named Wenlock to honour Dr
Brookes, WOS and Much Wenlock. On 30 May 2012, the Olympic flame of
the London 2012 Summer Games, was carried through
Much Wenlock to
acknowledge the founding footsteps of Dr Brookes. WOS
Vice-President, John Simpson, carried an Olympic torch from the town
into the William Brookes School.
A borough of Wenlock existed until 1966 which, at its height, was –
by area – the largest borough in England outside London and
encompassed several of the towns that now constitute Telford. The
borough had unusual boundaries, covering
Much Wenlock itself, but also
Broseley and Ironbridge, a total area of 71 square
miles (180 km2). In 1966 the core Wenlock parts became part
Bridgnorth Rural District, with other parts also going to
Dawley Urban District and to Wellington Rural District.
Much Wenlock was the first community in the West Midlands to have a
neighbourhood development plan. The plan was put to a parish
referendum on 22 May 2014. There was a 41.8% turnout, and 84.6% of
those voting said "yes" to the referendum question: "Do you want
Shropshire Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for
Much Wenlock to
help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area." The
Neighbourhood Plan was "made" (adopted) by
Shropshire Council on 17
July 2014. Planning applications in the town and surrounding parish
must be considered against the Neighbourhood Plan as well as existing
planning policy where appropriate, such as the Shropshire-wide Core
Strategy and as well as the National Planning Policy Framework.
Much Wenlock was the location for the third episode of the first
series of the archaeology television programme
Time Team in 1994.
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church, in Wilmore Street, is the Anglican parish church.
The first church on this site was built in Anglo-Saxon times. The
present church dates from 1150 and was built by the
Cluniac monks from
Wenlock Priory. Features of interest include the plain Norman tower
which had a spire until early in the 20th century, and a memorial
inside the church to W. P. Brookes as well as the refurbished family
gravestones in the churchyard. The churchyard is a large, open, green
space with some tall trees. The
Shit Brook ran along the road towards
the church before it was culverted. There is also a Methodist church
in King Street. The town's former Roman Catholic Church of St Mary
Magdalene, in Barrow Street, closed in 2008, was demolished in 2012
and domestic properties built in its place.
The annual Live Arts Festival held during March is a section of
Wenlock Olympian Games. There are competitions in music, creative
writing and dance for young people aged 18 years and under.
Bookshop in Much Wenlock
Nearby is Wenlock Edge, an important geological feature. Both the Edge
and the town are the subject of several poems by
A. E. Housman
A. E. Housman in his
Shropshire Lad, such as: "On
Wenlock Edge the wood's in
trouble..." and "Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town...". In 1909 six
of these poems were set to music by Vaughan Williams as On Wenlock
Edge, Song cycle for tenor and piano quintet.
Victorian era romantic painter and sculptor Robert Bateman
(1842–1922) lived near Much Wenlock, at the 16th century Benthall
Hall. In 1907
Walter Crane described his painting as of... "a magic
world of romance and pictured poetry ... a twilight world of dark
mysterious woodlands, haunted streams, meads of deep green starred
with burning flowers, veiled in a dim and mystic light."
Mary Webb (then Mary Meredith), lived in childhood at The
Grange just outside the town, on the
Church Stretton road, from 1882
St. Milburga's Well was supposed to cure eye diseases and the town was
a destination popular for medieval pilgrims, coming to worship at St
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics mascot, Wenlock, is named after the
town in honour of Dr WP Brookes and his Wenlock Olympian Society.
Much Wenlock is host to an annual Poetry Festival, held the week-end
after Easter. Founded by Anna Dreda of Wenlock Books, its patron is
Carol Ann Duffy.
Other notable people
Rosemary Leach (1935 in
Much Wenlock – 2017) English stage, 
television and film actress
Tony Levin (1940 in
Much Wenlock – 2011) was an English jazz
drummer,  who played at
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in the 1960s
Dame Rosemary Butler DBE (born 1943 in Much Wenlock) politician 
Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales
Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales 2011 to 2016.
Gabrielle Drake (born 1944) the actress,  lives in Wenlock Priory
Mary Beard (born
Much Wenlock 1955) an English scholar and classicist,
 the New Yorker characterises her as "learned but accessible"
Roger Preece (born 1968 in Much Wenlock) was professional midfield
footballer  between 1986 and 2004, playing over 350 games mainly
Wrexham A.F.C. and Chester City F.C.
Isobel Cooper (born
Much Wenlock 1975), operatic pop soprano singer,
 known professionally as Izzy
Duncan James the well-known English teacher from YouTube - known
online as Mr. Duncan, lives in Much Wenlock.
In 1950 the town and its surrounding countryside were the locations of
the film Gone to Earth by Powell and Pressburger. In 1985 the film was
fully restored by the National Film Archive, and premiered to great
acclaim. The New Statesman review claimed the restored film to be...
"One of the great British regional films ...(and)... one of the most
beautiful films ever to be shot of the English countryside". The film
was based on the 1917 novel of the same name by the
Mary Webb, which was partly inspired by the Diary of Francis Kilvert.
John Cleese film Clockwise was filmed partly in and around Much
Parts of the film European Psycho were filmed here, with the Guildhall
being used as a nightclub.
In July 2011, the documentary Tony Robinson's Olympics was filmed
Wenlock Olympian Games
Wenlock Olympian Games and also in and around Much Wenlock
The fiction based on fact novel A Spurious Brood is set in and around
Much Wenlock. The book is based on the true story of Katherine More,
youngest daughter of an ancient
Shropshire family, whose four children
were taken from her to be transported to America on board the Pilgrim
Fathers’ ship the Mayflower.
Much Wenlock also features in the mystery novel Saint Milburga's
Bones, by Jason Vail. Set in the 13th century, the novel is part of
the Stephen Attebrook mystery series. The town is known as 'Greater
Wenlock' in the novel, as the word 'Much' is derived from the Old
English 'micel,' pronounced 'mich-el,' and meaning greater or larger.
The novel involves the hunt for the bones of the saint.
Much Wenlock Primary School
William Brookes School
2012 sees the introduction of a
Shropshire Hills Shuttle service that
operates at weekends and on Bank Holidays during the spring and
summer. The route, called the "Wenlock Wanderer", connects the town
Church Stretton and operates mostly along the B4371 which runs
atop the Wenlock Edge, before turning off to
Acton Scott and then to
Marshbrook and the market town of Church Stretton.
The Arriva service 436 connects
Much Wenlock with
Bridgnorth with hourly services.
Much Wenlock used to be served by trains between Wellington and Craven
Arms. The station became a terminus when through running southwards to
Craven Arms ceased in 1951. The branch closed in 1962, just before Dr
Beeching published his report.
Cysoing, Nord, France
Little Wenlock – nearby village.
Wenlock Edge – nearby geological formation.
^ "Town population 2011". Archived from the original on 22 November
2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
^ a b Hanks, Patrick; Hodges, Flavia; Mills, A. D.; Room, Adrian
(2002). The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: the University Press.
p. 1238. ISBN 0198605617.
^ Fletcher, Richard (1997). The Conversion of Europe,. London:
HarperCollins. p. 172. ISBN 0-00-255203-5.
^ Finberg, Early Charters of the West Midlands, 209, dates the
earliest charter in the Testament as 675 × 90.
^ See H. P. R. Finberg, Early Charters of the West Midlands (1961),
197–216; A. J. M. Edwards, 'An early 12th century account of St.
Milburga of Much Wenlock', T.S.A.S. lvii. 134–42. The publication of
this new material relating to St Milburga involves a revision of the
older accounts of the early history of Wenlock in Eyton, iii. 225 and
Jnl. Brit. Arch. Assoc. 3rd ser. iv. 117.
^ Butler, Sir Thomas (1861). The Cambrian Journal, 49. London.
^ "Alice Glaston". wordpress.com. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 7 April
^ "Children & juvenile executions". www.capitalpunishmentuk.org.
Retrieved 7 April 2018.
^ Gamble, Cynthia, 2015 Wenlock Abbey 1857-1919: A
House and the Milnes Gaskell Family, Ellingham Press.
^ Anna Powell-Smith. "[Much] Wenlock Domesday Book".
Domesdaymap.co.uk. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
^  Archived 4 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
^  Archived 7 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Day 12: Olympic Flame visits
Much Wenlock and the
– London 2012 Olympics". London2012.com. Archived from the original
on 17 August 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
Borough & District Councils".
Retrieved 1 July 2014.
^ "The Liberty and
Borough of Wenlock British History Online".
British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
^ "Programmes - Most Popular - All 4". Channel4.com. Retrieved 29 July
^ Dickins, Gordon (1987). An Illustrated Literary Guide to Shropshire.
Shropshire Libraries. pp. 74, 104. ISBN 0-903802-37-6.
^ IMDb Database retrieved 13 February 2018
^ The Guardian, 23 February 2011, Tony Levin obituary retrieved 13
^ BBC News Wales, 1 September 1999, UK: Wales: AMs retrieved 13
^ IMDb Database retrieved 13 February 2018
^ The Observer profile, Sun 29 Apr 2012, The classicist with the
common touch retrieved 13 February 2018
^ SoccerBase Database retrieved 13 February 2018
^ IzzySings website retrieved 13 February 2018
^ Vail, Jason. Saint Milburga's Bones.
Much Wenlock Primary
^ http://williambrookes.com/ William Brookes School
^ "Weekend Shuttle Buses into the
shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
^ Holland, Julian (2013). Dr Beeching's axe : 50 years on :
illustrated memories of Britain's lost railways. Newton Abbott: David
& Charles. p. 82. ISBN 9781446302675.
British History Online The Liberty and
Borough of Wenlock
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Much Wenlock.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Much Wenlock.
Much Wenlock Town Council
Shropshire Tourism – A tourism website for Shropshire
Wenlock Olympian Society
Much Wenlock Bowling Club
Much Wenlock Visitor Guide by Virtual Shropshire
A Literary Walk
William Brookes School and Sixth Form
Much Wenlock Forester Charitable Trust
Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Plan
Wenlock Poetry Festival
Shropshire Councillor for Much Wenlock, David Turner
Much Wenlock Christmas Fayre
Much Wenlock Christmas Fayre (Facebook Page)
Much Wenlock Festival
Ceremonial county of Shropshire
Telford and Wrekin Council
See also: List of civil parishes in Shropshire
Shropshire Union Canal
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings