Nicole J Simms/ May 10, 2020/ Blog/ 0 comments

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On the 5th October 2019, some of my Oldbury Writing Group pals and I visited Much Wenlock to celebrate our belated fifth birthday.

Our actual birthday is 22nd August, and we normally go on a group trip in August to celebrate. However, this year we decided to delay our trip so a member who hasn’t been on a group trip in a long time could join us.

Much Wenlock is a medieval town in Shropshire, West Midlands. It is known to be the home of Dr William Penny Brookes, who is credited as being the founding father of the modern Olympic Games. He was also the creator of the Wenlock Olympian Society. And in 1850, Dr Brookes established the Wenlock Olympian Games, which still takes place every July.

The town has many historical attractions to visit, such as the Wenlock Priory, the Guildhall and the Much Wenlock Museum.  And, if you’re interested in the town’s connection to the Olympic Games, you can go on the Wenlock Olympian Trail.

Surprisingly, I didn’t know about Much Wenlock until I researched places in the West Midlands for our group to visit. But I’m glad I found it because it is a hidden treasure. And a perfect place for a writer who loves to explore.

When we arrived in Much Wenlock, I got out the map of Much Wenlock, and with the aid of our Map Keeper (Julian), we made our way to the High Street.

The town is even more stunning in real life. You could easily imagine you have been sucked into the past. It took us a while to stop staring at our surroundings and start our tour. But before we could, we were distracted again by the Much More Books bookshop.

Now I must warn you: if you visit Much Wenlock, do not go into the bookshop first. Sadly, we weren’t warned of this, and we spent a long time in there, which resulted in us not having much time left for the rest of the tour.

On the plus side, I did buy two books for £4. And we did have a lovely time searching through the bookshop’s treasures. I didn’t know second-hand bookshops were so magical, but they are, and anything you find feels like you’ve found some ancient treasure.

Once we dragged ourselves away from the bookshop, we continued our exploration of Much Wenlock. We briefly separated and went to the different parts of the High Street that attracted us.

I was drawn to the market stalls that were outside of the Much Wenlock Town Council building. And the stall that caught my attention was the beaded jewellery stall. And not being able to resist the jewellery — I love beads. I have several beaded bracelets on each arm — I treated myself to a pair of pink bead earrings. It was an early birthday present to myself. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

We eventually reunited and decided that it was time to find something to eat. So off we went, five hungry writers, hunting for food. Not far from the bookshop, and on the High Street, we found a quaint pub restaurant called The Talbot Inn — it’s also an inn, but I didn’t see this part of the building, so I can’t tell you how it is.

The restaurant was warm, cosy and inviting. We were promptly seated, and unlike other pub restaurants, there wasn’t any sticky tables or seats. The menu was full of choices, so much so, I struggled to decide what to have. But I finally decided on the crispy chicken with chips. As with being seated, we didn’t have to wait long for our food. The food was delicious and reasonably priced — I would definitely recommend my choice.

With our bellies full, and us needing to get back to our tour, we left the restaurant and delved further into the town. Time was short, so we decided to see the main attraction first: Wenlock Priory.

On our journey to the ruins, we spotted the Much Wenlock Parish Church. We love exploring old churches and their graveyards — this may sound weird, but old churches are full of history, and to see a gravestone from the past, say the 1800s, it makes you wonder what their life was like. We didn’t go into the church, but this is something we would like to do if we ever visit Much Wenlock again.

Finally, back on track, we continued our journey to Wenlock Priory. Wenlock Priory (or St Milburga’s Priory) is the ruins of a 12th-century monastery. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting much because I had previously visited the ruins in Bridgnorth, but they were, let’s say, a little disappointing. However, I was proven wrong. Wenlock Priory ruins are a lot bigger than I expected. It felt like they went on for miles and miles, so much so, we didn’t even have the time to see all of it. But I did have time to sit and do an observation chart.

In my observation charts, I list what I can see, hear, feel, smell and taste whenever I visit a new location. So, if I write a story set in any of these locations, I’m able to use my chart to make the setting feel more realistic.

Sadly, with time being short, we had to move on, so we promised to one day return.

For our last stop, we visited the Wenlock Museum. The museum isn’t big, but it has items that are still worth seeing. For example, you can see a medieval stone mortar, post-medieval wine bottle and a medieval chalice. So, if you do visit Much Wenlock, do leave some time for the museum.

I enjoyed my time at Much Wenlock. And I would recommend this town to any writers, photographers, history lovers or anyone who wants a place to visit for the day that is charming and full of history.

Have you visited Much Wenlock or any other interesting town? If you have, let me know in the comments below.

Stay safe and keep writing, folks!

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