In the pretty parishes of Shropshire lies the small town of Much Wenlock where its character is so unchanged it as though it time has been captured in a timeless Enid Blyton book.
The reality of the quaint Medieval town is equally as good, if not better, than what you would find in a fiction novel just for the fact alone it played a major part in the 19th century revival of the Olympic Games.
It is the home town of Dr William Penny Brookes, the inspiration for the modern Olympic Movement. In recognition of its sporting heritage, the 2012 London Olympic Games named one of their mascots Wenlock.
Today, with a population of around 3,000 people, Much Wenlock feels much more like a village than a town. What makes it so unique is its jaw-dropping examples of Medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture which have been loving looked after by a proud, friendly community who are as much welcoming of visitors as they are locals.
It was a feeling I felt first hand because while I have never so much as stepped across the Shropshire border, my travel companion was the perfect tour guide having spent the first 11 years of his life in Much Wenlock.
While he took a trip down memory, including stepping inside his old house – a former convenience shop – for the first time since he left, I was welcomed with open arms by those who still get to call it home.
Among them is local property owners Doug and Julie Lewis. Their family-run business Wenlock Studios was established in 2012, and their passion for the natural beauty of their local area is evident from the properties they have lovingly restored or created.
Their latest project, Westwood Lodge , is situated just outside of Much Wenlock, on the Wenlock Edge, and has been three years in the making.
Although the town might by famous for its old-worldly feel, what the Lewis’s have done is cleverly create a contemporary luxury countryside lodge which offers all the comforts of modern day life you could possibly hope for, and more, blended with the unspoilt Shropshire countryside where you could hear a pin drop.
However, it’s location is merely two miles from Much Wenlock making it a great base from which to explore from.
The brand-new lodge has only recently just opened for guests to stay and what makes it so popular, other than its immaculate finish and facilities, is the fact it can accommodate large parties of up to 16 people.
It boasts eight bedrooms, four of which have an en-suite shower room; a large games room that’s home to a pool table, air hockey table, and a 42” smart television linked to an Xbox; and a contemporary fitted kitchen with open-plan dining area, featuring an extendable dining table for up to 16-people.
You’ll also find in there a large leather settee and 52” television, a log burner and under floor heating. There is also a cloakroom area by the main entrance, plus a small WC and dog shower. And not only is a well-behaved dog catered for, you can even bring a horse as there is a stable to accommodate one.
Outside the lodge sits a private enclosed garden and large decking area, complete with a covered BBQ area, fire bowl, table tennis table, dart board, and luxurious wood-fired hot tub.
Everything you could possibly want or think of has already been thought of by the Lewis’s and it’s that, along with their exceptional interior design skills, that make it the perfect retreat from modern day life, but with all the mod-cons you could ever wish for.
The same came be said for the nearby shops in Much Wenlock High Street, but the best thing is you won’t find hardly any high street name shops. Instead it offers traditional shops where you’ll find good old-fashioned friendly service.
No visit is complete without checking out its free museum, taking a stroll around the Wenlock Olympian Trail, as well as its historic Guildhall, or wandering down to dramatic ruins of Wenlock Priory, laid upon the site of St. Milburga’s Abbey at around 680 AD.
By there you will also find the old railway line which linked Much Wenlock to other nearby towns.
Today it remains a reminder of our industrial past and provides a thought provoking unforgettable walk through the pretty secluded countryside.
When it comes to scenery Much Wenlock and the local area is rich in beauty, including the magnificent Wenlock Edge escarpment.
Within close proximity is Bridgnorth which is now connected by the steepest inland funicular railway in Britain. At the Severn Valley Railway Station you can enjoy a nostalgic steam train ride.
Bridgnorth is known locally by two names – the High Town and the Low Town. The latter was once a thriving port along the banks of the River Severn, while the High Town held the castle, the churches, and many fine 16th and 17th century mansions.
If you’re feeling energetic you can climb one of the seven sets of steps, or the steep old Cartway where goods were once hauled to the market above. The carts are gone, but the markets remain.
A bit of sight seeing you won’t want to miss is viewing what’s left of its castle because it leans at an alarming angle, even greater than the Tower of Pisa.
No visit to Shropshire is complete without going to see the Iron Bridge which is famously the world’s first iron bridge. It was erected over the River Severn in Shropshire in 1779. Its pioneering structure marked a turning point in English design and engineering; after it was built, cast iron came to be widely used in the construction of bridges, aqueducts and buildings.
Today it is a popular tourist attraction, but set in a peaceful valley with plenty of pub stops, cafes and restaurants and a handful of quaint shops to stop off at along the way.
Equally as fascinating is the Ironbridge Power Station’s landmark cooling towers which are earmarked for demolition after being sold to a developer.
A selection of town and countryside studios make up the collection of luxurious self-catering holiday lets created by Wenlock Studios.
It’s newest offering is Westwood Lodge, a brand-new countryside timber framed luxury holiday accommodation for large parties of up to 16 people.
It is based approximately two miles outside the historic town of Much Wenlock. The lodge is approached through electric gates, which require a code to open. There is a gravel drive and enough parking for five cars.
Half price offer:
Four night mid-week break, Monday to Friday, for just £1,500
Excludes Christmas and New Year, and is available until the end of May 2020.
For more details call 07891 225 779/ 07980 016 740, email email@example.com or click here
History lovers will also enjoy a visit to Buildwas Abbey and Wroxeter Roman City, both English Heritage sites.
Just 10 miles away from Iron Bridge is Boscobel House and the Royal Oak. The future King Charles II sought shelter here from Oliver Cromwell’s men after being defeated at Worcester in 1651.
With so much history and beauty to enjoy in Shropshire, you definitely need to visit for a few days to appreciate just how stunning the county is.
My visit was far too short, but I’ll definitely be back and hopefully next time joined by a large group of family and friends to share the comforts and tranquility of Westwood Lodge, and the fun adventures just waiting to be had exploring Shropshire.