Much Wenlock is a small town in Shropshire, England, with a population of over 3000. It has a mixture of black and white and local limestone buildings; many of historic interest. Flanked by the Severn Gorge and Wenlock Edge, with the famous Ironbridge and the birthplace of industry on its doorstep, Much Wenlock can claim to be the centre of some of the most attractive rural scenery in England; an area which has inspired many writers in the past.
The town is proud to have been the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. This historical fact was confirmed by Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former president of the IOC, when he visited Much Wenlock in 1994, and said
“I have come to Much Wenlock because this is where the Modern Olympics started”.
A native of the town, Dr William Penny Brookes, was a notable pioneer in the field of physical education and athletics during the second half of the nineteenth century and held the first Olympian Games at Much Wenlock in 1850, the programme consisted of a cricket match, quoits, football, adult and juvenile races.
In the following year archery was introduced, and at the next meeting tilting at the ring (for mounted competitors) and throwing the javelin were added. In 1860 the contests were thrown open to all England and in the same year the Olympian games were also held near Athens; the biggest prize, contributed in this country and called ‘The Wenlock Prize’, was given to the winner of the marathon race.
In 1867, mainly through the exertions of Dr. Brookes, the National Olympian Association was formed for the encouragement of physical education throughout the country.
For information about the Much Wenlock Olympian society please visit http://www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk/
For more information on the History of Much Wenlock visit: