Of Times Past


There is a noiseless little railway running through the valley, and there is an ancient little town lying at the abbey-gates – a town, indeed, with no great din of vehicles, but with goodly brick houses, with a dozen ‘publics’, with tidy, whitewashed cottages, and with little girls…bobbing curtsies in the street. But even now, if one had wound one’s way into the valley by the railroad, it would be rather a surprise to find a small ornamental cathedral in a spot on the whole so natural and pastoral. How impressive then must the beautiful church  have been in the days of its prosperity, when the pilgrim came down to it from the grassy hillside, and its bells made the stillness sensible.

Henry James on Much Wenlock Portraits and Places


A long shot taken back in early February. I was probably standing on the higher slopes of Townsend Meadow, further up the field from the gap in the hedge to the allotment and challenging my camera’s zoom facility to its limit. Here then are the elevated remains of Wenlock Priory’s erstwhile church along with next-door roof glimpses of the Prior’s House, now a private home called The Abbey.

You can also see a cluster of Corsican Pines. I’ve no idea who planted them or why, but there are three groves of them around the Priory so I’m assuming the Milnes Gaskells who once lived at The Abbey (and had Henry James to stay on several occasions and also had the ruins as their own personal garden feature) may have been responsible for their arrival. They are anyway magnificent trees.

There’s more about The Abbey, the Milnes Gaskells and Henry James’ visits at an earlier post: Going behind the scenes in Wenlock Abbey

And also at: When Henry James came to Wenlock


Past Squares #19

30 thoughts on “Of Times Past

  1. That’s a stunning photo Tish, and I love the piece by Henry James too, nice companion to your masterpiece…

  2. A great post. Henry James now? My, my. I still have a book or two from him on my shelves. Not read them yet. They were my parents. They liked him very much… I’ll move them closer to the to-read shelf…

      1. Hmmm. All I have, just checked is: “Ce que savait Maisie”. French edition. I thought I had the turn of the screw, but it must be in a box in Paris… Whenever I come (back) to London I will look his travelogues.

    1. That is a good question, Pam. My only explanation is that the line, near where James was staying, ran in quite a deep cutting, which would have made it a bit quieter. And may be it went very slowly through the town…

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