Sunday…. So Off to Church

This Week a Contrast in Size and Style

Long-Mynd--463The Church of Saint Laurence, Church Stretton, Shropshire

On the English Welsh border, an area known as The Marches,  sheltering beneath the Shropshire Hills known as the Long Mynd are two quintessential English Villages.

The larger of the two is Church Stretton and the church of Saint Laurence is the Parish Church.  Saint Laurence dates back to the 12 century but like many religious buildings there was probably an even earlier religious connection to the site.

As to Church Stretton itself, well you will find that all the older buildings are crammed in cheek by jowl with each other around the church.  The early village soon expanded an expansion helped by both the importance of local agricultural interests and in Victorian times by the arrival of the railway and that new found recreation of Tourism.

Still in the shadow of Long Mynd and just about a mile further west is the very much smaller village ..aptly called Little Stretton.

Lakes

 All Saints Church, Little Stretton

Little Stretton consist of a string of houses along the main road and together with a few other outlying houses that is the extent of Little Stretton.  If anything the village is more quintessential English, with many of the buildings being Black and White half timbered constructions with thatched roofs.

So maybe it is no surprise that All Saints is constructed in that style…what is a surprise for many is that this unique building only dates back to 1903.

Much smaller than its big sister down the road but no less attractive for that.  Surrounded by open lawns, ornamental trees and flower beds it is certainly a contender for any “Chocolate Box Top”.

16th July

(C) David Oakes 2017

 

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Sunday…So off to Church or rather an Abbey

Lakes

Buildwas Abbey, Shropshire

Idyllically located next to the River Severn in a deep Shropshire valley, Cistercian Monks built this Abbey.  Named after St. Mary and St. Chad it was completed around 1135. The lush surrounds were ideal for the Abbey’s agricultural activities.

Today it is a sprawling but dramatic ruin.  Apart from a tall Nave and various cloisters you can also discover high vaulted ceilinged under-stores.

But also look down as there are still areas with some fabulously ornate and surprisingly well kept tiled floors.

Life was not to be as peaceful as the surroundings suggest.  It’s location not too far from the border with Wales ensured that there were some turbulent times to endure.

But closure came along with a great many other Abbeys and Religious buildings on the Royal instruction of King Henry VIII, with the so called Dissolution of the Monasteries

4th June

(C) David Oakes 2017

 

Sunday….So off to Church

Shropshire

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.

Shropshire

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.

much-wenlock-2

Wenlock Priory

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)

6th November

(C) David Oakes 2016