After The Harvest Around Much Wenlock

It’s the brief window of opportunity that comes when the wheat has been cut, and we Wenlockians can go in for a bit of unbridled scampering in the fields. Well, if not scampering exactly, at least walking up the hill behind the house for some fresh vistas of the town and its surroundings. I need to be quick. If past years are anything to go by, the ground will be harrowed and re-sown in the blink of an eye, so while I have the chance, I’m passing on some post-harvest views. I’ll also leave you with a paradox, because although we have good views around the town, within it there is an officially recognised deficiency in public open space; many of the footpaths that we use are permissive, that is to say, they are open only at the landowner’s discretion. In more ways than are often realised, feudal England, with its roots in patterns of Saxon landownership, still remains.

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Here you can see three of the town’s medieval relics, from middle left to right: the priory ruins, the priory gate tower, and the parish church that was once part of the priory. The town grew up around the priory, its residents subject to its rule, both in terms of paying tithes and providing labour. The monastic domain was considerable, based on the possessions of the 7th century Saxon Abbess Milburga. Her lands extended several miles – beyond the River Severn and the Ironbridge Gorge and into Madeley in Telford in one direction, and to Broseley, near Bridgnorth in the other. She was also the daughter of a Mercian king, and the setting up of religious houses ruled by princesses appears to have been a common and cunning Saxon strategy for maintaining control over the territory claimed by their regional kingdoms. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1542, the monastic estate was sold off to members of Henry VIII’s court and merchant opportunists. Today, most of the land around the town is still in the possession of two large landowners. We are however fortunate that a good stretch of Wenlock Edge is owned by the National Trust which provides everyone with free access to a very special place.

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The Red House, and a ghostly farm labourer off for an evening pint at the George and Dragon Inn?

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I’m old enough to remember the days when the post-harvest straw was stacked in teepee-like stooks, and the wheat grains had to be detached from their ears in a hulk-like threshing machine. The farmer whose house we rented when we lived in Cheshire, would have the itinerant threshing man park his contraption the other side of our garden wall. I remember a sense of menace when I looked out of the bedroom window and find it had arrived. Once in action, it would throb hideously all day, spewing out great storms of petrol fumes and wheat dust.

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Didn’t Rumpelstiltskin spin this stuff into gold?

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Six Word Saturday

37 thoughts on “After The Harvest Around Much Wenlock

  1. Ok – so this post reminds me of another thing I love about blogging – the global connection!
    Earlier this summer I watched two different shows about Henry VIII – one was on pbs and was about his wives –
    Anyhow – both mentioned the selling off of the monasteries and the way it brought in money and helped cut some religious ties – and so to come here and see this area nowadays and that two main landowners hold this and that – hm – that is just cool!
    Also – imaging the scampering about made me smile – as did spinning gold perhaps?

  2. Stunning. It’s haying time here, too, in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. In the small-ish field across the way there must have been 50 huge round bales. Hayrows in the morning, bales in the afternoon, hauled away by sunset. In the larger field below: probably 200 bales. And that acreage we pass on our way down into the village? More than I could count. Such is the beauty of early autumn in northern New England. Snow soon.

    1. Thanks, Ron. I have fond memories of a Maine trip made at this time of year too. We do autumn well both sides of the Atlantic. Over here we don’t usually get snow till much later, if at all these days. Though we could well do with a good blitz of cold to check the exploding slug population. The place is crawling with them 😦

  3. Beautiful late evening(?) shots – I like the long shadows and the golden light. You do live in a lovely village or is MW a town? All looks quite autumnal already 🙂

    1. Ooh, definitely a town, Jude, borough status from 1468 no less. We once had two MPs too. But we’re still large village sized for all that, though the local landowner would like to build another 90 houses in the next ten years which is causing a bit of flap.

      1. Shropshire? Public transport? Well I know you know. More like a wing and a prayer job. But then the good populace seem loath to use the buses we do have. One day soon Wenlock will be gridlocked.

  4. You wordy woman! 🙂 🙂 I do love that golden light in the early sequence, Tish. Makes you glad to be alive. Not too much doffing of caps going on these days, permissive paths or not?

  5. Your photos and writing is stunning – and you’ve plenty of fantastic material as I can see! I live over the border, in Powys, where we also have beautiful views and, of course, the changing seasons are showing us the farmers’ work… oh, that wheat dust! Here we’ve had oats alternating with maize… and sheep alternating with cows on the upper pastures beyond our house (not our pastures). So much beauty. I’ve followed your blog so that I can see more of your posts.

  6. The light in these shots is just lovely Tish. The Big T and I were reminising about our time in Berkhamsted recently, and how much we loved those late-summer evenings.

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