- Church Stretton Community
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- About Church Stretton
Church Stretton and its picturesque surrounding have inspired may writers and have featured prominently in the books of Malcolm Saville, Mary Webb and A E Housman.
Malcolm Saville was a children's author born in Hastings, Sussex. He was a prolific and very popular writer of children's adventure stories the first to be pulished was 'Mystery at Witchend' in 1943. His stories nearly always have geographical settings and usually involve children trying to solve a mystery or taking part in an adventure. He wrote twenty 'Lone Pine' adventures of which eleven were set in the Shropshire Hills!
He first came to Shropshire in 1936, arriving at Church Stretton by train and then continuing by car through Little Stretton, across the level crossing at Marshbrook to the church at Cwm head and then turning off down winding lanes to a house called Prior's Holt beneath the Longmynd. It was this house together with the valley and hills behind that provided him with the setting for that first story Mystery at Witchend. Other stories followed as he discovered the secret places of the Longmynd with successive visits until he widened his settings to include the Stiperstones range further west. These wilder, bleaker hills, scarred by mining waste and broken on the western slopes by deep valleys gave him a different setting for several of the later books in the Lone Pine series. The secret of grey walls (1947) is set in the small town of Clun not far from Church Stretton.
Although he never actually came to live in the county Malcolm Saville was a regular visitor to and great lover of Shropshire. On at least two occasions he attended Book Fairs organised by Shropshire Libraries and shared his enthusiasm for books, reading and the places he had written about with scores of visiting schoolchildren.
Text above has been adapted from An Illustrated Literary Guide to Shropshire by Gordon Dickins, published by Shropshire Libraries, 1987. © Gordon Dickins, 1987.
Mary Webb was both a novelist and poet and is Shropshire's most famous daughter. She passionately loved the Shropshire countryside, which she knew intimately, drawing from it her settings, her characters and the rich descriptive detail of her novels and poems. Most of her forty-six years were spent within its boundaries, and like Emily Brontë and Thomas Hardy, she was unhappy when away from the country of her heart.
Church Stretton has many associations with Mary Webb and is 'Shepwardine' in The Golden Arrow, the market town where the two young couples in her novel attend the Lammas Fair:
They came down the quaint street, by the old market.. . The street was full of countryfolk, interspersed with visitors. . . Strings of hill-ponies went by, droves of bullocks, sheep with red letters on their shorn bodies....'
-' The Golden Arrow'
For more information on Mary Webb and some local trails that take you into some of the places featured in her books click here.