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Wenlock Priory and Much Wenlock


Shropshire Map

Last Visited: 2005

Detail of the Guildhall Panelling
Detail of the Guildhall Panelling

Much Wenlock is a pretty little town, and blessedly free from traffic. Administratively it was once much more important, before Telford nicked much of patch, and this is reflected in the very grand Council Chamber in the Guildhall.

The magnificent 17th century paneling came from a nearby building and was installed in 1848. The carvings of what are presumably nuns in their cowls, reminded me of Edvard Munchʼs The Scream. If only they had had their mouths open.

External Links and References

Although called a priory, to all intents and purposes Wenlock Priory was an abbey. This was because of the problems caused, in other orders, by the abbot being completely independent and a law unto himself. The Cluniac Order, therefore, decided that they would only have one abbot (the Abbot of Cluny in France) and that all their other houses would be priories answerable to him. It didnʼt help, as the magnificent Priorʼs Lodging (now a private house) shows.

To be fair, this is partly because during the Hundred Years War (1337 - 1453), Wenlock was classed as one of the delightfully named 'alien houses'* due to its strong links with France. Eventually, the burden of additional taxes imposed on such houses became too much, and it had to severe its links with Cluny.

* Perhaps thatʼs what the figures in the guildhall paneling are!

Wenlock Priory was dissolved on the 25 January 1540, and became a ready source of building materials for the local inhabitants. Whatʼs left is a delightfully peaceful spot full of strange topiary animals. English Heritage provide one of their usually excellent pre-recorded tours, although this one seems to suffer from a surfeit of narrators.

Check the English Heritage website for opening times etc.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Wenlock Priory
      English Heritage Handbook entry
    • Much Wenlock Priory
      Brief Wikipedia Article
  • Leaflets

    • Wenlock Priory by Julie Pinnell
      English Heritage Guide Book available at the site