On the Road In Much Wenlock ~ ‘A Rip Van Winkle Kind Of A Place’

Much Wenlock Sheinton Street towards Holy Trinity Church

Sheinton Street looking towards Holy Trinity Church


It’s a while since I posted any photos of my home town. These shots are all from the archive, but I had a notion to edit them in sepia tones, along with a touch of over-exposure here and there to accompany  the century-old quotation from Shropshire writer Mary Webb. I mean to say, even with all the cars, it still has that  look. There’s definitely a sense of Winkle time-slippage. This may well have something to do with the fact that this small town has been continuously occupied for  more than a thousand years. And before that, there would have been Romans and Romano-British wandering around the place with the likelihood of a villa/bathhouse on the site of the medieval Wenlock Priory. And before that, itinerant Bronze Age smiths may well have passed through, one of whom lost his stash of arrow and axe heads in the River Severn not far from Wenlock. Or maybe it was a donation for a safe crossing.

Many of the facades you see in the photos have been added on the front of much earlier buildings – this during periods of particular market-town prosperity when there were attempts at gentrification. I say ‘attempts’ because by all accounts even in the late nineteenth century there was a smelly open sewer running through the town. Also the place was regularly doused in limestone dust with every blasting at surrounding quarries. And there would have been some evil smog too from lime burning kilns (this to produce lime for building mortar and fertiliser).

Much Wenlock High Street

Looking down on the High Street


Much Wenlock The Bullring

The Bull Ring where once  the popular sport of bull baiting took place on fair days and holidays


Much Wenlock The Square

The Square (looking past the church towards Wilmore and Sheinton Street)  with the Museum on the left (once the Butter Market and then a cinema) and the 16th century Guidhall opposite. The assizes were held on the upper floor, the lock-up down below. These days the town council holds its meetings there.


Much Wenlock Queen Street

Queen Street and Brook House Farm, one of the last surviving town farms, now ‘done up’ into several desirable residences. I remember it with cattle in the barn.


Much Wenlock High Street with Reynalds Mansion

The High Street featuring our star timber-framed residence – Reynolds Mansion, a fifteenth century hall with a grand 1682 frontage


Much Wenlock High Street towards Gaskell Corner

Top of the High Street. This row of stone clad cottages contains some very ancient inner parts.


Much Wenlock High Street and Wilmore Street with Guildhall

Much Wenlock Sheinton Street towards New Road

Looking down Sheinton Street from the Farrell house


Much Wenlock lane beside Priory ruins

Downs Lane beside Wenlock Priory


Related: Wenlock: “A Rip Van Winkle kind of a place

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: roads

24 thoughts on “On the Road In Much Wenlock ~ ‘A Rip Van Winkle Kind Of A Place’

  1. The sepia toning is actually perfect. If it weren’t for the cars, these look entirely old timey. They give me the “oh how I want to move there” jitters. But I’ve always felt that way about most of the British Isles, including Wales and Ireland. I never did make it to Scotland, though Garry was there a few times before we got together. He loved it. I think it’s a wee bit late in life now!

    1. Glad you like the sepia approach. It would be nice to edit out the cars – in real life that is. These photos are giving a bit of an idealised impression. Parts of the town are plagued with through commuter traffic and snarl ups on a twice daily basis. Slight limitations of medieval and Victorian street planning!

      1. Boston suffers from Victorian street planning too. It looks like a pile of spaghetti. All the roads follow old Indian trails or cow paths. All attempts to straighten them have cost billions of dollars — and left the roads just as bad or worse. And this is a major city, so just imagine the traffic and parking issues. It’s wonderful on foot, but awful in a car.

      2. When we LIVED in Boston — 30 years ago — we walked everywhere. I had thighs of steel. After we moved out of downtown, we went into town less and less. The city was permanently in gridlock. Even though we were technically in Boston, we were on the edge of the city, not IN it. We gave up and moved out here. I do miss the city sometimes, but what I miss isn’t there. The city has changed. It’s a different city.

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