Much Wenlock (A Town of Books)

What could be more perfect on my birthday than visiting a wonderful olde-worlde village brimming with history, antique shops, delis, tea rooms and book shops? Well actually going with my book loving Gran, mother and little teenage sister as it happens. Fortunate really as that is what I ended up doing on my 30th Birthday back in March. Knowing that if you read this blog it would be something that you would enjoy I took pictures along the way so you could do the jaunt with me, be warned though there are pictures of very tempting book shops and their contents ahead…

I didn’t know very much (pun not intended) about Much Wenlock before we took the thirty minute drive from my mother’s tiny village on my birthday morning. My 13 year old sister soon told me that it was the town which started the Olympics, which I refused to believe until my mother told me to ‘listen to your little sister, you might learn something sunshine’ and I learnt it was true. I have since found out it is the birth place of Mary Beard (who I am officially obsessed with at the moment) so it has grown on me favourably even more. The first thing I did notice was how quintessentially English it looked. To me this is the perfect stereotypical English country town in all its glory…

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One of the reasons we had headed that way was that my mother and I had had the idea that maybe for my 30th we should get something from an antique shop that I could keep forever as a memento, and we found a brilliantly bonkers little store on one street which was literally crammed with delights…

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Sadly nothing was quite what I was after, so we came away fruitless, though I was tempted by an owl…

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So next came the bookshops, first of which was Wenlock Books a tardis of a store which has both new books and old.

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You walk into the stores ground floor and are hit with a level of book porn which is almost too tempting for its own good frankly…

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And thats before you go upstairs…

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Where there are nooks and crannies of bookish delights awaiting you in secret corners.

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I chose something suitably apt as my memento of my visit there.

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Next up was Much More Books which is a solely second hand store just down the road.

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You walk in and are hit with that always welcoming scent of old books needing a new home and the possibility of finding real gems on every shelf.

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I made my sister spend her pocket money on this…

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How could I not? It was on a very impressive Penguin shelf. The sea of orange is always so tempting.

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I grabbed a rare piece of Daphne Du Maurier’s non-fiction which I had never heard of and seemed like it simply had to be bought by me and no one else.

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I didn’t buy, and am slightly kicking myself for not doing so, a copy of a very rare Daphne Du Maurier short story/novella ‘Happy Christmas’. It wasn’t the fact it was a lot of money, it was more the fact that it was a Christmas book and I don’t read those at any other time of year.

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I am hoping that someone (Mum, Gran, The Beard… anyone?) might just get me a copy for Christmas this year. Hint, hint.

So I came away with two treats, Gran with three, but my sister and mother did the best coming away with a whopping six books each! Well done them! Eventually, though it took a while, we were rather booked out and so we left (via a tea room, Abbey and a deli) and headed home for champagne. What a wonderfully bookish birthday treat!

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33 Comments

Filed under Bookshops I Love, Random Savidgeness

33 responses to “Much Wenlock (A Town of Books)

  1. …. a FABULOUS place …. on my list to visit for sure…. Thank you for sharing this blog on your birthday… HAPPY BIRTHDAY…

  2. gaskella

    What a lovely outing, with a good supply of treats.

    On the Mary Beard side, I suspect it may be as much her surname as the Romans that obsesses you! 😉 She is brilliant though.

    • Hahahaha Annabel I don’t know what you are implying… Ok, maybe I do and maybe I am giggling a lot. But in actual fact thats just coincidence, but a good one.

  3. Look at those vintage covers! Fabulous.

  4. I was there last summer, for the bookshops! I only bought a couple of things. If I’d known you were going, I’d have told you that you MUST buy the Shirley Jackson books (Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons) in the second bookshop! They might not still be there, of course.

    • I think quite a few people who go to Much Wenlock might go for the bookshops as they are quite renowned, I had no clue about them of course! I didn’t see any Shirley Jackson books and I actually do look out for her. Lol.

  5. Erika W.

    You are torturing us with your photographs–I want a Staffrdshire figure (I used to collect these as an undergraduate) and a good look at those penguin shelves…sounds like a perfect day out.

    • I should have included pictures from the deli, but I thought they might send people over the edge. I do love antique and book browsing. I have just spent a weekend doing it in Southport recently.

  6. I love everything about this post, Simon! I love the vintage book covers, the tower of tea cups, the nooks and crannies of the bookstore…Thanks for taking your readers on a trip to Much Wenlock.

    • Thank you so much Jennifer, we must have very similar tastes, I like nothing more than days like this (which I actually call rummaging days – you just potter about and look at stuff) so it was the perfect birthday.

  7. The history that must be in Wenlock Books! Buildings like that are so intriguing, it’s great it’s in public use. And the number of Persephones they’ve stocked!

  8. About two weeks before we opened Mostly Books, Nicki and I visited Much Wenlock and were hugely inspired by Anna and her completely gorgeous bookshop. Not knowing about our visit, she was generous with her time – and also gave us some advice which I have come to value very much in the ensuing 6 years: bookselling is not a job, it’s a privilege. It’s the reason why we stock Persephone Books (we know that Judith Viorst very well!) – and it’s a shop that champions everything that we need to cherish and protect in high street bookselling in the face of the digital storm…great post, thank you!

    • Oh were you doing sneaky undercover book shop visiting? I did that the weekend before last in Southport (I am considering writing a ‘good bookshop guide’ be it in book or website form) and the woman in one shop was unbelievably rude. See you shouldn’t always introduce yourself.

      Back to Much Wenlock, the shop is just gorgeous isn’t it?

      • Well, it wasn’t so much sneaky undercover stuff, we turned up and introduced ourselves! It’s completely gorgeous – and they have a fab poetry festival there as well that is well worth going to…

        I owe you a big thank you for re-reading our blog post from 2006 – because tucked away in the comments fields were some wonderful pieces of advice from some awesome booksellers that I had forgotten were even there. So thanks very much: http://www.mostly-books.co.uk/2006/06/fantastic-day.html

  9. Thank you for the book porn – much appreciated. I actually went so far to copy and enlarge the pics so I could read the titles. (Don’t worry, deleted them after).
    Glad you had a fun day out 🙂

  10. Oh, and the Viorst is the only Persephone I have hated so far, so I wish you much more luck with it than I had!

  11. Kristen M.

    Looks like a fantastic day in Much Wenlock. Makes me want to take a little bookish trip!

  12. Oh, Simon, I am so jealous! It sounds like an absolutely wonderful day! I LOVE old bookshops, there’s always a treasure to be found! 🙂

  13. Sold! I totally want to go there.

  14. Did you meet Anna who owns the Wenlock Bookshop? She is wonderful – not only knows about books but sometimes will make you a mean pot of tea as well.

  15. Thanks Savigereads for your wonderful blog and for the plug you have given our town. Next time you are visiting let me know who you are! 🙂 BTW we still have that du Maurier’s Happy Christmas. There could be a discount in it for you. 🙂 All the best and come and visit again soon. In the meantime if you would like to check out our store online including the vinyl and CD collections that have in the offing (with hundreds more to follow) check out http://www.muchmorebooks.co.uk or http://www.muchmoremusic.co.uk

  16. Pingback: A Lovely Bookish Tale Before Christmas (Well I Think So) | Savidge Reads

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