Welcome to Much Wenlock, the home of the modern Olympics - no! We're not kidding!
William Penny-Brookes and The Modern Olympics
In 1850 Local surgeon William Penny-Brookes (1809 - 1895), who introduced physical education into British schools, inspired the fore-runner of the modern Olympic Games for the "promotion of moral, physical and intellectual improvement" and although the Game's venue is now decided by international committee rather than by the Wenlock Olympian Society, we still hold our own Olympics here every July - the other Olympics are also doing quite well too!
"The old woman's" race for a pound of tea may yet be re-introduced!
William Penny Brookes vision for the Olympic Games is hailed as one of modern sports greatest achievements. Of course, Baron de Coubertin was inspired to create the global event after a visit to the games in Much Wenlock.
Coubertin discussed how the Wenlock games might be translated on to a bigger, international stage.
The influential and wealthy Frenchman was suitably inspired and shared Brookes' dream of a modern, international games. The first games of the modern Olympics took place in Athens in 1896.
Juan Antonio Samaranch, then president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), visited Much Wenlock in 1994 and laid a wreath at Brookes' grave.
"I came to pay homage and tribute to Dr Brookes, who really was the founder of the modern Olympic Games."
Sadly the good doctor Brookes died in 1895 aged 87, just four months before the modern Olympic Games were started in Athens in April 1896. He was a tireless campaigner and altogether good egg, he will not be forgotten. However, the full story can be found in the Much Wenlock Museum, along with the history of the town and other information on the unique geology of the Wenlock Edge.
In 2012, the Olympic torch was designed by an ex Salopian' - Edward Barber, who was born and raised in Shrewsbury.
Much Wenlock's Olympian Heritage
The following film is called Much Wenlock's Olympian Heritage and outlines the history of the town and the Olympic connection.
Much Wenlock Marathon Trails
To celebrate Much Wenlock's Olympic connections, the following Marathon Trails leaflets have been produced based on the themes of Activities, Food and Drink, Family Friendly and Rural and Heritage.
Wenlock The Olympic Mascot
Wenlock was one of the two Olympic mascots for the 2012 Olympic Games, see Wenlock and Mandeville's story here:
Apart from the Olympics, Much Wenlock also hosts Tales from the Edge, the world-famous international storytelling festival.
Another highlight of the year is the Wenlock Poetry Festival, which is fast becoming one of the top poetry festivals in the UK,. The festival attracts some of the very best poets and performers writing and working today alongside local up-and-coming poets. For more information visit www.wenlockpoetryfestival.org
Much Wenlock is a rustic 700 year old medieval market town filled with a patchwork of twisting streets, black and white half timbered buildings, limestone cottages, specialty shops, numerous hostelries and watering holes and the remains of a magnificent 12th Century Priory.
The Priory, dedicated to its first abbess, St Milburga, forms a backdrop to many outdoor events and theatrical performances including the Tales from the Edge Festival which helps keep the ancient art of story telling alive, whilst the covered 16th century Guildhall (you won't believe this) with its overhanging first floor held up by stout oak pillars, was pre-fabricated and raised in two days in 1577! Today it hosts regular antiques markets.
One of the Guildhall's pillars was the towns whipping post, and still carries the iron staples that would have been used to tie to prisoners wrists.
Much Wenlock's Holy Trinity Church is Norman and has a battlemented tower and Jacobean pulpit with carved panels, depicting, rather oddly, some two-tailed mermen.
In High Street, you’ll find Wenlock Books, recently named as the ‘Independent Bookseller of the Year’ in the 2006 British Book Awards. Stocking a whole host of books and book related accessories from fiction to non-fiction, art, reference and children’s books, Much Wenlock is the place to go for a good read and by all accounts a really warm welcome.
In Shenton street, you'll find the Old Gaolhouse, which was a 18th century prison and the 17th century manor house. St Owens Well in Queens Street is the only cruck-framed building in the town and is dedicated to the 6th century Welsh saint.
Much Wenlock was awarded 'Walkers are Welcome' status in September 2011.
Above the town rises the Wenlock Edge which provides glorious views. This 15 mile limestone escarpment was created when Shropshire could be found just south of the equator - some 400 million years ago. Looked after by the National Trust, The Edge and its ancient woodlands are excellent for walks, cycling and riding. Long distance routes like the Jack Mytton Way and Shropshire Way pass over Wenlock Edge.
Nearby are : Benthall Hall - a 16th Century house with stunning interior and carefully restored plantsman's garden and Broseley Pipe Works, a Victorian clay tobacco pipe works, - get your very own Churchwarden.
For more information on Much Wenlock contact the Visitor Information Centre
Click here to take a virtual tour of Much Wenlock Shropshire
For more information about the Much wenlock Olympic Games, please visit www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk
Would you like you very own Wenlock mascot? Then why not visit the London 2012 online shop.