Britain’s Other Big Olympic Event

People catching flights to London this summer are lining the Olympic stands to see some of the world’s greatest athletes. But in a small town in central Shropshire, another Olympian event has recently occurred: the 126th Wenlock Olympian Games featuring typical sports like triathlon and athletics alongside stranger things bowls and a long distance walk!

Not to be put off by its rival’s £11 billion Games, the Games in Much Wenlock were organised by Dr. William Penny Brookes who organised them 44 years before the Greek version was revived (the doctor actually campaigned for the modern version’s revival). His original objective was to promote moral, physical and intellectual improvement among the local – although many people would argue that the Games have gone far beyond these somewhat humble objectives to also include commercial and celebrity aspirations.

The original Wenlock Games, which were held in 1850, included quoits (throwing metal rings onto a spike), football and cricket, and there was also a “fun” event of a wheelbarrow race. For visitors interested in the history of how the Games came to the United Kingdom, it’s really worth going to Much Wenlock in Shropshire to walk along the Olympian Trail, which starts and ends at the museum in the square on the High Street. Simply follow the bronze markers that are set in the ground to tour special sites in Much Wenlock!

The Much Wenlock Museum also has a fantastic display of society artefacts that highlight the town’s role in reviving the Games as they are today. Even though the displays have been newly refurbished to tell the story of the town and the links with Dr. William Penny Brookes and the Games, there are other things to see as well.

For example, keep a look out for the fossils from Wenlock Edge, which is a limestone ridge that runs across South Shropshire. You also might like to stop in at one of the charming inn-pubs on the High Street; The Fox, George and Dragon and the Raven Hotel provide good olde English fare that will keep your energy levels up to explore the Olympic trail!

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