On The Church Green ~ Willow-Light


A bit of an odd phenomenon I thought on Monday as we were walking across Wenlock’s Church Green. And not only because we had sunshine – a rare event over the past few months – but also because the willow tree appeared to emitting its own light. The sunshine was also catching the edge of William Penny Brookes’ grave (1809-1896), he who was the town’s enlightened physician and who in 1850 recreated the Olympian Games as an annual town event. These games attracted national and later international interest. Brookes was in correspondence with Baron Coubertin (often given the credit for masterminding the modern Olympics) who visited Wenlock to see the games for  himself. The model that William Brookes had perfected, down to the designing of the medals, was the actual inspiration for the creation of the modern Olympic Movement.


Brookes was a man who operated on many fronts when it came to improving community wellbeing. He was responsible for the arrival of the railway and the gas works, founded a library and the Agricultural Reading Society for working people, conducted trials on children’s bodily fitness and lobbied for the introduction of physical education to British schools. The link above gives a brief summary of his life and legacy to the town, and indeed to the world at large. The house where he lived stands opposite the church, marked with the requisite blue plaque. He is well remembered.


http://www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk/ for more information on past and present Wenlock Olympian Games

January Light #22

29 thoughts on “On The Church Green ~ Willow-Light

  1. Sometimes do you regret that we can no longer easily ‘read’ our natural environment in the way of our ancestors? I do even if I love my MTV!

    I know that yellow and this gorgeous yellow and yellow-green was Apollo’s colour and this phenomenon of a willow appearing to emit light may be the rare presence of Apollo in winter. He is usually distant from late Autumn to the coming of warmth and bright light at the end of Spring.

    Robert Graves’ interpretation of the Roman myths says that Hermes made a copy of Pan’s pan-flute and sold it to Apollo. Apollo himself stole the art of prophecy from Pan.

    This, then, might be Apollo’s recognition of the passing of Pan on this day close to this tree and probably his resting against its trunk, waiting for the winter wind to come up so that he could accompany it with his (Pan’s) flute.

    This is all before we get into the symbolism of the willow itself………!

    And all to say that we need, after enjoying this sight and experience on this day, to drink toasts when we get home for the marvels of our physical world……….! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Sarah, that is one very intricate romance you have woven with Hermes’ and Pan’s and Apollo’s assistance around our old willow tree. And so it will remain whenever I pass by it hereonin. For now, it is surely all lit up for the coming of spring. I shall keep watch to see what it has to say later for the rest of year.

  2. What a glorious light you have caught, and fascinating to learn a little bit of Wenlock history. We just don’t seem to have people like that anymore, or at least not many of them

    1. He also sent the local populace out and about collecting wildflowers and created a marvellous herbarium of some 600 species. Some botanists did some stabilising conservation work on it a few years ago and it’s now kept safe at Ludlow Museum where they have specialist storage conditions. The only shame is it’s not handy any more. It used be kept in our Town Council office archives.

  3. It is indeed magical-light. Thanks for the reminder about Brookes— I’m sure we have women and men like him working in our communities today, it’s just that we haven’t recognised them yet.

      1. True. One of the banks here sponsors an award for people in local communities doing good — nominated by those communities. Friends of mine were awarded a couple of years ago for their work getting blankets and warm clothes to kids in need around Auckland (that such a thing is necessary ☹️), and it was quite a lot of money to help their work, and a sum for them personally to use.
        A drop in the ocean, but nice to see some acknowledgement.

      2. That’s good to hear, Su. Though as you say, it’s shocking that we have so many needy children in our ‘civilised’ and wealthy communities. Was watching an episode from a current forensic history TV series looking at the bones of early 19th century children from Leeds. Rickets and scurvy endemic. Then it cut to a UK paediatric surgeon who says he’s increasingly seeing these conditions in today’s children!

      3. It is shocking. But sadly not surprising; when our societies accept a return to a “blame the poor” 19th century morality, terrible working and social conditions will follow, and with that poor health outcomes. It’s not that different here.

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