Wenlock Olympian Society



Media and Press

To Apply for Press / Media Passes for Wenlock Olympian Games and all other Press & PR enquiries please contact:

Mac Bardsley 
PR & Media Secretary

Phone: 07734 932 872

Wenlock Olympian Society is a significant part of the modern International Olympic Games’ history founded in 1850 by William Penny Brookes providing annualcompetitions in sports and the arts to people of every grade.

For photographs from the last events, please see ARTS here and SPORTS here.

For older photographs, please see ARCHIVES.



Like ‘Wenlock Priory’, Wenlock Olympian Society (WOS) is named for the old borough of Wenlock which loosely consisted of the parishes of Broseley, Madeley (including the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge), and Much Wenlock. The old borough was disbanded in 1966.


Since 1850 WOS has organised an annual Games – ‘Olympic-like’ but not a revival of the Ancient Olympic Games. WOS founder, William Penny Brookes was a doctor, surgeon, and a philhellene, wanted the Games to encompass arts as well as sports – as done in the Ancient Olympic Games. As an exponent of the ‘healthy body for a healthy mind’ concept, he revered the Ancient Greek athletes but tempered ‘winner takes all’ with mediaeval chivalry and fair play (stabbing in the back or putting a spoke in your opponent’s chariot is not allowed!).


WOS is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. Members of WOS are volunteers, dedicated to:

  • organising an annual Games
  • disseminating and publishing the work of William Penny Brookes and the WOS
  • supporting organisations inspired by WPB, such as the International Olympic Movement

WOS provenance

WOS’s long and interesting history dates back to the first Games held in 1850. William Penny Brookes set up WOS to organise competitions in sports and the arts for people of every grade by holding Wenlock Olympian Games, a dedicated annual meeting. This is still the primary purpose of the WOS. Information can be found in:

  • The WOS book ‘The Story of Wenlock Olympian Society and William Penny Brookes“. Copies can be purchased from Much Wenlock Museum.
  • The online Archives here.

WOS Team

  • A team of volunteers runs the Society.
  • WOS President is Jonathan Edwards, CBE, triple jump Olympic gold medallist and current World Record Holder.
  • Jonathan is supported by four Vice Presidents: Chris Cannon, Helen Clare Cromarty, Jeff Davies, and Simon Macvicker
  • Seven Trustees are responsible for WOS’s organisation:
    Jordan Spilsbury: chairman, Nick Martin: secretary, Alan Edwards: treasurer, Mac Bardsley, Chris Cannon, Sue Hayward, and Helen Clare Cromarty
  • A strong general committee is made up of supporters, events organisers and activity-specific post-holders such as archivist, membership secretary, PR officer, safe guarding officers, etc..

WOS’s Memorandum and Articles of Association can be found here. 


WOS owns a unique Archive dating from 1850 to present day, consisting of its Minute Books, photographic records of its Games and the people associated with the WOS, and other fascinating memorabilia. WOS Archives are currently housed in the Corn Exchange (the Town Council offices) through the generosity of Much Wenlock Town Council, and exhibited in Much Wenlock Museum, Ironbridge Gorge Museum and elsewhere. This can be accessed online here.


WOS has published a book The Story of Wenlock Olympian Society and William Penny Brookes is available to purchase in Much Wenlock Museum .

Education Pack

A comprehensive Educational Pack has been developed in conjunction with Wolverhampton University‘s Sports Studies department. This is a valuable resource for all educational establishments. Extracts from the pack can be downloaded here.


All WOS’s activities, including the annual Games, its educational activities and archival work, are funded through generous patronage, donations, and grants. Without this financial support, WOS could not continue.

Wenlock Olympian Games is:

  • an annual schedule of sports and arts competitive events with a long and revered history
  • a festival of sports and the arts competitions at their friendliest and best which welcomes local, national and international competitors
  • organised and governed by WOS
  • a significant contributing factor to the founding of the modern international Olympic Games

Sports events currently consist of:

  • 5 events for junior competitors aged 7 – 18 years: badminton, kwik cricket, netball, tennis, and swimming.
  • 3 events for senior competitors aged 17 years and over: bowls, golf and seven-mile road race
  • 5 events for both junior and senior competitors: archery, athletics, equestrian fencing, and hockey
  • Wenlock Olympian gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the first, second and third winners in every competition
  • Wenlock Olympian Participation medals: awarded to all competitors in the seven-mile road race

Further information TBA

Arts events currently consist:

Creative Arts

  • an online short story competition open to competitors aged 16 years and over
  • Wenlock Olympian gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the respective first, second and third winners
  • also cash prizes awarded to the respective winners

Further information can be found here.

Live Arts

  • competitions for students aged 18 years and under on 31st August of the year of entry in music, dance, and speech and drama
  • Wenlock Olympian gold, silver and bronze medals: awarded to the respective first, second and third winners in every competition
  • Participation Certificates awarded to all live arts competitors in addition to the gold silver and bronze team medals.
  • singer, musician, dancer, and performer of the year discobolus trophies awarded in the live arts competitions

Further information can be found here.