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

Some Ironbridge Towers ~ The River Between

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Following on from yesterday’s Iron Bridge visit, this first photo is for Jude. She wanted to know if the Ironbridge cooling towers still existed. The power station, just upstream from the Iron Bridge, has been recently decommissioned. There are plans for demolition, and the site to be developed for housing.

There are four cooling towers, and if you walk along the river they loom dramatically above you. Love them or hate them,  Jude and I are for them. They are anyway part of our industrial heritage, though mainly I like them because they look like giant flower pots. And I like them even more now they aren’t giving off dirty-coal fumes.

Across the river, just downstream of the cooling towers is the Severn Warehouse – now part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum (where I used to work). This building has much smaller towers, but they are impressive in their own way. Built in the gothic style by the Coalbrookdale Company in 1834, it was used to store the factory’s iron goods until they could be shipped by barge to Bristol and thence out to the wide world. You can see the tramway down to the wharfage (bottom left). A veritable citadel of industry then, though a spot of weeding looks to be called for up in the castellations:

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If you would like to take a very interesting walk around the Ironbridge Gorge there is an excellent trail guide HERE

 

Roof Squares  See Becky’s very unusual Portuguese bread oven

Six Word Saturday  And some marvellously commemorative artwork from Debbie

Last Night In Downtown Oakengates, Looking For Roofs, Real Ale, And Having A Slight Fit Of The Edward Hoppers

Just in case you think Shropshire is all ‘blue remembered hills’, we do have our urban quarters. Oakengates in Telford (New Town) to the east of the county has ancient roots. The Romans came marching through these parts in their bid to quell the Welsh, leaving us the remains of a military fort – that’s to say an on-the-hoof marcher camp (nicely squared earthen ramparts reduced to a field crop mark). Then there was a lot of monkish settlement (physical evidence obliterated), but it was during the C19th that the town truly came to prominence and prosperity, its coal and clay deposits making it one of the key settlements of Shropshire’s Industrial Revolution.

Since then, though, the once traditional street scene has somehow had its heart ripped out. Well, mostly. There are still some good old pubs. In particular the  Crown InnTHE watering hole for real ale lovers, and the place where we were heading last night to meet good chum Andy. And just by chance I had taken my camera, and I was struck by the evening light, and the strangely compelling surrealism of the streets that someone had kindly tried to prettify with bunting, and there were a few rooftops too and I had that feeling that I get when I look at Edward Hopper’s paintings: a spinal twinge of fascinated  displacement and disquiet (for his work is nothing if not about light and shadow in all connotations) – hence this set of photos, taken before and after a glass of good Mild Ale…

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Roof Squares

Coming Home From The Allotment ~ The Priory Ruins At Sunset

Lately heavy labouring on the Farrell allotment plots has been taking precedence over blogging. Tasks have included sowing, weeding, mulching, path mowing, plot edging, erecting pea and bean sticks, planting out the broad bean seedlings (long pod, crimson flowered and the Sutton varieties), beetroot (golden, boltardy and cylindrical), cauliflower, broccoli and pea seedlings.

I have also recycled several builder’s pallets (rescued from the communal bonfire heap) to make two new compost bins, and to extend an existing one into a double-bay effort. And I have been gathering comfrey, grass cuttings, shredded cardboard, household peelings and whatever greenery I can crop from neighbours’ neglected plots to feed the bins. I am aiming for mega-quantities of compost come the autumn so I can give all the raised beds a deep protective layer that will hopefully prevent the soil from turning into concrete over the winter, which is what happened to any exposed surface this year.

In the polytunnel over-wintered lambs lettuce, Chinese mustards,  leeks, Russian and Tuscan kale are being eaten and/or cleared to make way for the tomatoes, peppers and the single cucumber plant that I managed to germinate. All in all, it feels like a gardening marathon, but doubtless it will (mostly) be worth it. And one good thing about being up at the allotment at this time of year is the chance of taking sunset photographs of the town on the way home.

First though evidence of the labours:

And now we’ve got the gardening done, more early evening shots around town as I head home; views from south through east to north-east:

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Daily Post: Place in the World

My Town In Black & White

Cee’s current black and white challenge is store fronts and building signs, so I thought I’d give you a quick tour of Much Wenlock’s High Street and Square, starting with the Museum (once the Market Hall) and opposite The Guildhall built in 1540, and still a market place several days a week. Most of these images were shot in monochrome.

The town grew up around the early medieval priory, first catering for the many pilgrims, and then with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, growing into a thriving manufacturing and mercantile centre. Most of the oldest buildings along the town’s main streets would have been shops, workshops and inns rather than private houses. There were blacksmiths, nailers, needlemakers, clay tobacco pipe makers, brick makers, cloth and leather workers. There was also a thriving in trade in cattle, horses and agricultural produce. The grant for the first weekly market was issued by Henry III in 1224. We can thus be pretty sure that an awful lot of shopping has been done since then.

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Cee’s Black & White Challenge Store Fronts and Building Signs

Reflections Of Ludlow ~ March Squares

Ludlow is probably the most handsome of Shropshire’s ancient market towns, and one of our favourite places for a day out. It is also the region’s foodie capital so you can usually be sure of something delicious to eat at one of its many inns and restaurants. And it has shops as they used to be – proper butchers, green grocers and bakers. Then there is this place on Corve Street – a magical emporium of light fittings and fixtures. They are all rather expensive so we usually just look in for the show, or press or noses to the window.

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March Squares This month Becky wants squares in squares or squared circles.