Mary Wellesley

When the eponymous hero of the late 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight enters the ‘wyldrenesse of Wyrale’ (wilderness of the Wirral) he encounters ‘wolues’ (wolves) and wild men called woodwose. On a trip to the Wirral, in late August last year, I had hoped for a woodwose and would have settled for a wolf, but found golf courses instead. My Ordnance Survey map told me there were 14 on the peninsula, which is now a suburb of Liverpool flanked by the rivers Dee and Mersey. The anonymous Gawain poet tells us that in this place, ‘Wonde þer bot lyte/þat auþer god oþer gome wyth goud hert louied’ (there lived but few who loved God or man with a good heart). Golf courses must be for the godless.

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