Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town...".

This Heeland Coo isn't a Shropshire Lad and his name isn't A.E Houseman, he hails from Scotland originally. This hasn't stopped him from giving you a big welcome from Much Wenlock.

Originally called Wenlock, meaning "white place," perhaps due to the nearby white limestone escarpment called Wenlock Edge. Much Wenlock is a medieval town built around the AD 680, St.Milburga's Abbey. At the time of St. Milburga, the name of the town was recorded as Winnicas. This abbey was on the site of the still standing ruins of Wenlock Priory.

"Somewhere in the Middle Ages it had fallen asleep," are the words of Mary Webb about her Much Wenlock. Mary Webb 1881-1927 was an author that celebrated her surroundings in Shropshire through writing. She wrote many novels and poetry with a Salopian (Shropshire) theme. One of her novels, Gone to Earth was made into a film and I am currently on the look-out for a copy of either the film, and/or the book. I already have a copy of Precious Bane, written by Mary Webb and some say that it loosely mirrors her personal life. She had Graves disease and suffered from it until her death. In the book, she reflected this in the character of Prue Sarn a disfigured girl who finds it hard to accept the love of a man who can see her true inner beauty.

A.E. Houseman 26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936 authored several poems with a Salopian theme, such as A Shropshire Lad. This collection of poems dealt with the rural life and mortality of young men of the time. Below you will find other poems by A.E. Houseman that help bring the area to life. Some of his poems ironically, were written before he had ever visited the countryside....

There is an easy to moderate 5.5 km (3.5 miles) walk starting around Much Wenlock that was featured in a book called Walks with Writers. This walk ties in ith the settings of the authors I mentioned, A.E. Houseman and Mary Webb. Here is more info:


On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.
’Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
’Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.
Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.
There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

"Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town..."

’Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town
The golden broom should blow;
The hawthorn sprinkled up and down
Should charge the land with snow.
Spring will not wait the loiterer’s time
Who keeps so long away;
So others wear the broom and climb
The hedgerows heaped with may.
Oh tarnish late on Wenlock Edge,
Gold that I never see;
Lie long, high snowdrifts in the hedge
That will not shower on me.

-A.E Houseman

Another important person to Much Wenlock is William Penny Brookes (13th August 1809- 11th December 1895. William Penny Brookes was a physician and as such was concerned with fitness. He is credited with starting the modern olympics. The first games were held in 1850 in Much Wenlock. In 1890 the annual games in Much Wenlock were attended by a baron who was so inspired he started the International Olympic Community in 1894. The games in Much Wenlock are still held every year in July. There is a walk that starts with artifacts at the town centre in the museum and goes for 2150 metres (1.3 miles) around to places that were important to Mr. Brookes and the games.


  1. I like the poetry and photos together! I still never made it to Much Wenlock...

  2. You drove through Much Wenlock on the way to Ludlow with me. It is a place you must stop at though. You would love seeing the ruins and then shopping at the market.

  3. Marcie,
    This looks like another beautiful and colorful place to visit. Thanks for all the info !
    Wonderful photos and words.