Inspired by William Penny Brookes
Whilst London is filled with the hype of the modern Olympics, Much Wenlock takes you back to the birth of the modern Olympics with a FREE Victorian themed one day event on Saturday 14th July 2012 filled with entertainment, shopping and one-off experiences which celebrate the importance of Much Wenlock and Dr William Penny Brookes in the modern day Olympics.
Jumping back to 1830, Brooke’s message began to emerge as he took over his father’s practice in Much Wenlock. Brookes’ aim was to “promote moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town of Wenlock” and this led to the founding of the first Wenlock Olympian Class in 1851, which was created with the objective of starting an annual Games event within the town.
Thanks to the Wenlock Olympian Society, today in Much Wenlock these games are still present and, like in the 1800’s, are run annually. This year, Much Wenlock Events group are offering the opportunity for visitors to take part in some of the original games during the approaching Olympian Street Festival.
Brookes persistence for good health has acted as a stepping-stone to the success of the modern Olympics and the global appreciation of sport. His life and achievements will be re-enacted at the Street Festival by performers from Broads, as they follow the journey of the Games to Athens and show the partnership between Dr Brookes and Pierre de Coubertin. Coubertin’s curiosity of England’s growing idea of Physical Education led to the pair’s hard work to create and maintain the Olympics that we know today.
With promises of music, puppetry and dance choreography the nationally renowned production ‘Much Ado About Wenlock” takes to the stage on Much Wenlock’s church green as actors follow Brookes’ mission to get the locals away from the pubs and outside living an active lifestyle. A comical take on the well-known story of the founding of the Olympics allows those off all ages to enjoy and appreciate the home of it all.
As well as Brookes persistence in improving the health of his neighbours, in 1841 he became a Justice of the Peace. To commemorate Brookes’ impact, a re-enactment of a Victorian trial will take place in the Guild Hall - someone’s destined for the stocks so this isn’t to be missed!
The Street Festival wants to celebrate the life of William Penny Brookes and the successful journey the Olympics made from the small town to way across the globe. But in addition to this, the festival wants to bring the community of Much Wenlock and the many tourists to the streets to admire the history and enjoy current talent: a range of folk, soul and jazz bands will perform; a Bird of Prey display is on offer; locally produced foods and handmade crafts will be spread across the town and the popular Ironmen and Severn Gilder’s Morris Dancers will show a number of performances. Children’s activities will keep the whole family entertained for the entirety of the day: face painting, ‘the animal man’, Punch and Judy and balloon modeling will all be on offer. July 14th is set to be an exciting and significant calendar date as part of Britain’s Olympic Celebrations.
The event is free entry for all. For more information visit www.wenlockevents2012.co.uk
To find out more about William Penny Brookes and the Wenlock Olympian Games visit www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk
By Faye Hudson