Wednesday Walk Into Wenlock ~ Ancient Remains And Some Animals

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I’m standing on the path we call the ‘long way’ into town, otherwise locally known as the Cutlins. It cuts across the meadow between what was once the railway station (shades of decimating Beeching man again) and the Wenlock Priory ruins. The cottages you can see in the middle ground front onto Sheinton Street. Many date from medieval times, and originally they would have been shops with heavy wooden shutters. When the shop was open for business the shutters came down to make trestle counter tops. Behind each of the commercial frontages were workshops and living quarters, and then a long strip of land for cultivation or the keeping of livestock, still surviving today as domestic back gardens.

These gardens backing onto the field, then, are the town’s last surviving evidence of medieval burgage plots. Until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, the town that grew up around Wenlock Priory was ruled by the Prior. The Pilgrim Trade (to visit the relics of St Milburga, the Saxon princess whose family founded the 7th century religious house over whose remains the later, grander Cluniac Priory was built) made Wenlock a prosperous place. By 1247 there was a merchant elite known as burgesses. They paid the Priory one shilling a year to rent the burgage plots.

The trades they operated there included carpentry, shoe making, tool making, tailoring, the provision of legal and secretarial services. Other trades that grew up in and around the town included breweries, tanneries, lime burning, quarrying and the making of paper, nails, and clay pipes. All in all, it would have been a pretty foul-smelling place. Not the bucolic scene we enjoy today.

The Priory is hidden behind the trees at the foot of the path, the burgage plots to the right out of shot:

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And after stopping to look at the new Highland calf, at the foot of the path near the Priory I met a lamb. It felt like a meeting of minds – a slightly odd Little Bo Peep moment:

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And finally a glimpse of the Priory ruins: surviving remains of a dissolved roof – which, incidentally, is exactly what happened once Henry VIII’s monastic re-purposers had stripped off the protective and very valuable lead from such premises:

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Roof Squares 15

47 thoughts on “Wednesday Walk Into Wenlock ~ Ancient Remains And Some Animals

  1. A lovely pictorial travelogue. Do you live near here? I have to envy the beautiful highland cattle. What fuzzy calves they have! I will now forever mourn the monochromatic Holstein bovines who dot our farmlands in Michigan. Though, they have their charms too. I also appreciate the new word “burgage” for use in Scrabble and Words with Friends. Now all I have to do is remember it!

    1. We spend a lot of time watching them, though they’re always coming and going from the field, so you can’t be sure they’ll be there. Always on the mooo-ve what!!!

  2. MW is utterly charming, interestingly we used to notice the temperature was always a couple of degrees lower than the surrounding villages. Due to being on the Edge I assume.

  3. Thank you for the stroll Memsahib. Sometimes when I see your pictures I feel so transported back in time to our house and little village in Normandy where we spent summer. The trees, the green, even possibly the tiles on the roofs. 🙂
    Have a delightful week-end.

    1. It’s a long time since I was in rural France, but I can see the similarities. Actually there was a time when French would have been commonly heard in Wenlock. The monks were all imported from Cluny, this after the Norman upgrading of the priory. And of course another clue to similarities – the Norman Conquest !!! 🙂 Lovely weekend to you too.

      1. You can see the similarities if you take the train under the Channel. You come back up in France and it’s the same land. 🙂 Quite a pleasant trip actually. We did it once. Back and forth.
        Kwaheri sassa Tish.

    1. Yes, it’s hard to conjure times past – as they truly were. The town is very genteel these days. Even in late Victorian times there was a stream running through the place that was pretty much an open sewer, this in a town that had had 2 Members of Parliament since the 15th century.

  4. We do tend to romanticise the past, don’t we? I’m afraid our delicate 21st Century sensibilities would not have gone the distance. Never-the-less, what has come to us down through the centuries is oft-times a visual treat. 🙂 Thanks for the tour. 😀

    1. Yes, the past is a foreign country to quote L P Hartley. It would be a shock to our systems to go back there. But as you say, good that we’re left with the scenic remains 🙂

  5. Love the calf and lamb. Beautiful pictures, Tish. And a great pleasure getting to know your town and a bit of it’s history. The 12th century doesn’t seem so long ago to me, having read much history from those days. and having imagined what it was like to live then more times than I can remember. I am often grateful that I came into this world when I did, but still feel connected to historical times.

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