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Earliest meeting: May 1733
Final meeting: Friday 5th May 1939
The Shropshire market town of Much Wenlock is famous for launching the modern Olympics, and they still hold their own version of the games today. It was the inspiration of Dr William Penny Brookes, who founded the Wenlock Olympic Society in 1850, a seed which grew into the Modern Olympic Games. Aside from that, the ‘County History of Shropshire’ recorded that a two day race meeting first took place in Much Wenlock in May 1733, although it could not be deemed successful because the next meeting did not happen until 1820 when a one day meeting was held in July 1820. Two years later a meeting took place on a course which was an oval of barely a mile in circumference with an uphill finish of 2 ½ furlongs. The principal races on Thursday 29th July 1824 were the 10 Sovereign Sweepstakes, which went to Mr Mytton’s Whittington, and the £50 Stakes which was claimed by Sir G Pigot via his mare Miss Robson. The final Flat meeting took place on Friday 4th August 1876, after which the course was converted to cater for National Hunt racing, albeit for a single day each year on a Friday in May. Crowds were never massive, although it did have its loyal followers, and the final meeting took place on Friday 5th May 1939. Once the War was over there was no appetite to revive the races in the town.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Sir G Pigot, Sir W W Wynn, B Thompson, Mr Beardsworth, Mr Day
Principal Races B. Thompson Plate, New Steeplechase, Abbey Hunters’ Chase

Thursday 29th July 1824

Wenlock 10 Sovereign Sweepstake over 2 miles and a furlong
1. Whittington owned by Mr Mytton
2. Hero owned by Mr Beardsworth

Wenlock 50 pound Stakes over 2 miles and a furlong
1. Miss Robson owned by Sir G Pigot
2. Niobe owned by Mr Flintoff
3. Sal Volatile owned by Mr Griffith

Wednesday 18th September 1833

Wenlock Sweepstakes over 2 miles
1. Independence owned by Mr Bearsworth
2. Diana owned by Mr Day
3. Mezereon owned by Mr Painter

B.Thompson Plate over 2 miles
1. Decoction owned by Mr Painter
2. Unnamed filly by Scamper owned by Mr Beardsworth
3. Hector owned by Mr Wadlow

Course today

A mile round course with an uphill finish of 2 ½ furlongs. No evidence remains of the racecourse which once graced Wenlock with Flat and Steeplechase meetings. The land is now used by Much Wenlock Primary School on Racecourse Lane.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The rare handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email johnwslusar@gmail.com

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing johnwslusar@gmail.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
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