Holy Trinity the Parish Church of Much Wenlock
Much Wenlock is a small and very ancient Market Town in Shropshire. Like most towns across the UK they once played a very important role in their regions, commerce, industry, agriculture, transport and in later days health and education.
But Much Wenlock can also make a very big claim to being the birth place of the modern Olympic. The collaboration between Dr William Penny Brooks and Ross Frisby created the first Athletics Wenlock Olympics. Those games celebrated their 130 gathering this year and we all know how the International Olympics have developed.
But back to Holy Trinity. The church you see today is solid plain Norman in style and dates to 1150. At some point the Tower also sported a Spire but that was removed early in the 20th century. Like most English Churches it is again built upon a site of early Anglo Saxon worship.
The Nave is long and high, not over ornate but has high arched windows, stone pillars and Box Pews….simple and yet stylish.
Perhaps the simplicity is because the Church was built by an order of Cluniac Monks from Wenlock Abbey. Indeed you could say that Holy Trinity is literally and physically in the shadow of the Priory.
Wenlock Priory is perhaps the bigger attraction for visitors to the Town, but those who limit their visit just to the Priory miss out on the Church and the Town and all its local history.
Again dates can be confused….as can names. Originally the Priory was named after Saint Milburga. It was originally a 7th century Monastery, then a Cluniac Monastery in 1079. The current ruins of the Priory are just a little younger being 12th century. Priories were not just places of worship but fully contained communities.
Like all ruins it is fun deciphering the layout, identifying where worship took place , where they slept, ate and of course where they prepared their food and stored the wines and beer…and of course where they washed and bathed. These may now only be a skeleton of what existed but they still illustrate the skill of the stone mason with only the simplest of tools.
Quite a contrast in both styles and size….plus the chance to explore a lovely market town that also has many more interesting buildings spanning the centuries and illustrating the Towns obvious importance to this part of Shropshire…yep, Much Wenlock is worth exploring.
( Off to Church on Sunday has been a regular blog for a few months now but I am going to give it a break till sometime the New Year. So next Sunday will be the last for awhile. I have something planned which I hope will be a fitting Off to Church contribution but more importantly appropriate blog for Remembrance Sunday)
(C) David Oakes 2016