I had vaguely heard of Much Wenlock and there’s a bookshop there (it’s on a list) so we decided to visit it when we were staying in Oswestry for a few days. Sadly when we got there the bookshop was closed, but the town is so quaint we were happy just to have a look around it. Much Wenlock is the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games apparently.
The only shop that was open was a terrifying antiques shop. It’s the most jam packed shop I’ve ever been in with towers of ‘stuff’ everywhere, almost all of it very breakable too as the stock seems to consist of 99% china/pottery! We carefully negotiated the piles but were too terrified to pick anything up to look at it, we would probably have had to move six other pieces to get to anything interesting anyway. So breathing carefully, we squeezed out again – heaving a sigh of relief – no damage done.
Back out on the pavement we spotted a sign pointing to the priory and made our way there. There’s actually still quite a lot to see and some of the stonework is very ornate. What is left dates from the 13th century. Luckily English Heritage look after it, so as we’re in Historic Scotland at the moment we didn’t have to pay to get in.
The priory must have looked fabulous in its day but over the years most of the stones have been recycled for use in local buildings as usually happens with these places.
Walking back to the car I took a few photos of some not quite so ancient buildings. The one below is brick built.
I particularly like the building below as I can just imagine people hanging over the balcony to chat to people in the street 500 years ago.
The building below is the Guildhall and is still in use.
There’s quite a variety of styles around though.
The village has been used in a few film locations, including the John Cleese film Clockwise.
It would be nice to visit Much Wenlock when it’s actually open, so if we’re ever in that area again we’ll definitely go back.
It has quite an interesting history which you can read about here.
When one of our friends in Cambridge suggested that we should visit Ely we thought we might as well do it. I hadn’t realised that we were so close to Ely, for some reason I seem to recall that the place was regarded as the back end of beyond when I lived in the south of England. I really don’t know why because it’s close to Cambridge, I was going to say and civilisation, but really it’s fairly civilised itself!
Driving into the town we saw signs to Oliver Cromwell‘s house. I don’t know if I ever knew that he had lived in Ely – if so I obviously blocked it out as it was a surprise to me. He lived there for ten years. Cromwell is on my mental list of despicable characters from history so I didn’t bother to actually go into his home which is a very short walk from the town.
I think that this wee house is much nicer though and it’s very close to Cromwell’s. I think the windows are nicer and I’m fairly sure that it can’t have been lived in by anyone as horrible as Cromwell so it’ll have a better atmosphere! It strikes me that it would be really easy to transform all of these old houses into cross stitches. I might do something like that in the future.
The cathedral is undergoing building work at the moment, which ancient building isn’t, I ask myself?
All in all I really liked Ely, it doesn’t feel as well off and salubrious as Saffron Walden but it’s a friendly place with nice buildings and shops and a wee bit of a market.
We had intended to just drive through the small Essex town of Thaxted but decided to stop to take some photos when I saw this unusual building. It’s the Guildhall, it looks even stranger in this photo but the steeple belongs to the church which is situated behind it.
The place is just full of Tudor half timbered houses like this one, all very higgledy-piggledy but still standing after about 500 years and still sheltering people from those cold East Anglian winds. No doubt they cost an arm and a leg too.
Then I noticed a plaque on a house just to the left of the guild hall. Gustav Holst’s house, I hadn’t even realised that he had lived in Essex, but there he was, bang in the centre of Thaxted High Street.
Holst is most famous for his Planets Suite so in the hope that after the recent news from Libya the poor souls of that country will now have some peace in their lives, I thought this You Tube rendition of Holst’s Venus – The Bringer of Peace would be appropriate. Fingers crossed for the Libyans.