MUCH WENLOCK

I owe Much Wenlock an apology.  On a couple of previous visits I hadn’t seen the attraction, but it impressed this week, and revealed a classic pub.

South Shropshire is one of my favourite parts of the UK, both the countryside of the Long Mynd and the unchanging towns of Bridgnorth, Clun and Ironbridge. Completing the Beer Guide entries has become more difficult with the frankly spiteful inclusion of a pub with evening-only opening (the Anchor Anchor), but I will get there soon.

I think the problem with Much Wenlock is there’s not much of it.  It has a couple of picturesque streets, Priory ruins and a link to the modern Olympics, and it’s half the size of my own village. Also it’s not a place you pass through en route to anywhere else, and hasn’t any obvious must-see sights.

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On a quiet weekday with a bit of sunshine it’s magical though. There’s a lot of black and white buildings, wattle and daub and wall paintings. This isn’t a unique feature, but the buildings aren’t all being used to sell tat or cream teas. It feels like a real village; more Whitchurch than Bishops Castle.

The George and Dragon is typical of this feel. It’s been in and out of the Guide over the years, which I can only think reflects the level of competition, particularly from a raft of new places in north Telford.

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There’s a winning combination of bench seating, distinct cosy areas for drinking and easting, and historic features throughout. Food is simple and well priced.

A good mix of custom includes old boys and family groups, but it’s not being used for coffee stops or lazy lunches.  That might be because a fair number of large Cotswold-style coaching inns fulfil that purpose. The Talbot appeared to be the only other authentic pub.

From an interesting beer range the Hobsons is the obvious choice. It’s OK rather than brilliant (NBSS 3), but the hum of conversation (largely about the loss of smokers from the pub) is worth the price of admission.

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Mind you, there’s at least half a dozen pubs of this standard and character down the road in Bridgnorth, one of the most underrated pub towns in England.

 

8 thoughts on “MUCH WENLOCK

  1. Oddly, whenever I’ve been to Much Wenlock, the weather has been dismal – cold, wet or both.

    Agreed that south Shropshire (and all of Herefordshire) is pretty much God’s Own Country.

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  2. When in Much Wenlock last Wednesday, I actually chose to go in the Talbot rather than the George & Dragon because there was something I fancied on the menu. Agreed, it’s a proper pub – laid out for dining at the front, but with an old boys’ “death row” opposite the bar and a more homely area towards the rear with bench seating. Beer range was Draught Bass and Wadworth 6X, which suited me fine.

    Unfortunately a group of local mothers came in (probably friends of the licensee) to show off their babies which, to be fair, were reasonably well-behaved.

    That’s where one of them was talking about returning to dieting and said “I’m going back on the shakes next week”, to which one old boy replied “I ‘ave them every morning!” May not be true, but classic pub banter.

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    1. I guess if all pubs were just old boys reminiscing they would be a bit dull; mothers engaging in pub life can add something to the mix.

      Bass and 6X would do me fine as well, as long as there was enough trade

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      1. Oh yes, it’s the interaction between different groups of customers that makes a pub. But good to see lunchtime old boys in Shropshire town pubs, which you wouldn’t come across locally except in Sam’s and Spoons.

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      2. Chap in his 70s asked if he could sit on my high posing table in Cheltenham the other night (it was quiet). Said he wanted a better view of TV,but just wanted a chat.

        Not in good health, only used Spoons in Gloucester & Cheltenham. Dismissive of pale beers, Spoons disposal programmes & a few unmentionables. Left him my vouchers.

        Can’t imagine him in any of the other Beer Guide pubs in either town.

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      3. Although the problem is that, all too often, the initially reasonable-sounding chap who engages you in conversation slowly reveals himself to be a total nutter.

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