Window On The Past ~ Looking In, Looking Out At Much Wenlock Priory

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Our small town of Much Wenlock has been continuously inhabited for a thousand years. It grew up around the Priory and, until the Dissolution in 1540,  its citizens’ lives were ruled by the Prior who held his own  court. Of course many worked for the Priory directly, while others were farm tenants, the Prior being the preeminent landowner in the area, so fulfilling the role of Lord of the Manor.

In exchange for their tenancies of up to 20 acres, the farmers were expected to do work for the Prior. Sometimes his demands were greatly resented. So much so that in 1163 Wenlock’s peasant farmers rose up, making suit to the King to remove the overbearing prelate. It is recorded that they ‘threw down their ploughshares.’ In return, the Prior excommunicated them, the worst punishment imaginable short of execution. But still the farmers did not back down. They besieged the church and fought off the knights who had been despatched to restore order. The Prior was forced to hold an enquiry, and abide by the decision of a committee whose members were chosen by the farmers themselves – four knights and six monks whose judgement they must have trusted. And so justice was done – people power medieval style.

 

For more about Wenlock Priory see an earlier post HERE

And at Thursday’s Special the theme this week is WINDOWS.

21 thoughts on “Window On The Past ~ Looking In, Looking Out At Much Wenlock Priory

  1. What a story! We need a bit of equally effective people power against a few modern tyrants masquerading as democratically elected and then going their own destructive way. As for the photos, that first one holds intriguing images. (Is that X in a diamond graffiti?) And the colours in the second one are amazing.

  2. 1000 years? Sometimes living in Canada and in a city that is 130 years old I feel stunned at the thought of such history. No wonder we walk open mouthed across the pond at all the history.

    1. It can be weighty stuff. But Wenlock’s history never fails to surprise me. Now we’re a very small town of under 3,000 people, but in the past, because of the prestige of the Priory and the frequent visits by the King, so much was recorded that has been lost elsewhere. Our county archives has 5 miles of documents, many early medieval pipe rolls of court doings in the county that have not even been read. All rather mind blowing.

    1. I so agree with you Paula re democracy. It was pretty unusual back then though. The farmers must have been heavily pressed to risk so much, but also with a fine sense of their own worth.

  3. What a brilliant historical story and when the right side won!!😀😀 Very interesting and lovely photos tooo – very atmospheric. A delight to find your blog via Jo’s Six Word Saturday post today.

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