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Stokesay Castle

An English Heritage Site

Stokesay Castle, although called a castle it is in fact a 13th century fortified manor house. It nestles within peaceful countryside near the Welsh Borders near Craven Arms. There is a detailed audio tour to accompany you on your visit and this brings the castle to life in medieval England.

Building began of this impressive manor house soon after 1281 by Lawrence of Ludlow a renowned wool merchant of the time. It's completion is indicated by the records for the 'licence to crenellate' (fortify) the 3 storey south tower, obtained from Edward I at Hereford in 1291.

You enter Stokesay Castle through a Jacobean gatehouse built in 1620. This is an elaborate example of the regions timber frame buildings with a highly decorated outside and two brick chimney stacks, of the two standing today one is an original. Across the grass courtyard you get the impressive Great Hall and south tower.

The Great Hall has gabled windows, almost untouched since originally installed. It also contains the original octagonal hearth, staircase and a cruck-built timber roof. The solar (private apartment) contains an Elizabethan fireplace with an elaborately carved overmantle, originally painted in gold, pink, red, green and white.

It is a combination of comfortable residence with cottage-style gardens and fortification, and the fact that so much of it is still in tact today that just like us you can easily spend a couple of hours walking around the castle. Below are a selection of some of the pictures taken on our visit, following that a little bit of it's history.

SC3boys.jpg (36155 bytes) SCbarn.jpg (31348 bytes) SCbarnroof.jpg (37333 bytes)
The outside of the Great Barn and castle tower. Interior of the Great Hall Roof of Great Hall
SCinsideroom.jpg (29010 bytes) SCfromtop.jpg (46355 bytes) SCfireplace.jpg (30021 bytes)
In side one of the upstairs rooms off the Great Hall. A view of the gatehouse from the top of the tower. A wooden panelled room decoratively carved and this is the fireplace in the room.
The castle is moated but has no water in it today. This picture was taken from within the moat which goes all the way round the castle. Stokesay as viewed from the adjoining churchyard.

The picture at the very top of this page is a panoramic view taken from within the courtyard of the castle. It shows the Jacobean gatehouse on the right, the Great Hall on the left and some of the cottage-style garden. The building in the background is the local church of St John the Baptist and from whose churchyard this picture was taken, of the North Tower Apartments (timber framed building) and Great Hall.

Click on all the smaller images to see the bigger picture.

All images on this page were taken prior to the latest DSLR's, we will try and get them updated some when.

A Little bit of History

Lawrence Ludlow a 13th century wool merchant purchased the site in 1281 and started to build. It is believed to have been completed around 1291 when a licence to crenellate (fortify) was obtained from Edward I. Unfortunately Lawrence didn't get to live and enjoy his new home for long as he was drowned in 1294. Although castellated it was more a domestic house than military establishment and probably would not have survived a determined attack. However, the moat would have offered some protection from minor disputes which were present during the middle ages.

It continued to pass through the generations largely unaltered until it came into the possession of William Crave, who let it out on a long lease to Charles Baldwyn, and it was under Baldwyn's occupation that Stokesay had it's one and only military encounter during the English Civil War of 1645. Following the capture of Shrewsbury by Cromwell's officers they ordered that the castle be levelled. The order was never carried out, except for the curtain walls which linked the gatehouse to the main building, which were removed in 1647.

By 1706 the castle had become deserted and for the next 150 years local farmers used the buildings for storage. However in 1850 Mrs Stackhouse Acton put in an action a plan to restore Stokesay and in 1869 ownership passed to the Allcroft family. They continued the restoration programme and opened the castle to the public in 1908. On the death of Lady Magnus Allcroft in 1992 the estate passed into the care of English Heritage who look after it today. And to the credit of Mrs Stackhouse Acton and the Allcroft's it has managed to stay virtually unchanged for over 700 years.

Final Note:

Whilst searching the internet for Stokesay I found an interesting website at http://www.stokesaycastle.com/  This links to a restaurant  in Reading Pennsylvania USA with the same name. However it is a replica of the 13th Century Stokesay Castle in Shropshire. It was built in 1931 by George Bear Heister following a trip he made to England and was so impressed with what he saw. His wife was not keen on living here so it was maintained as a summer party home. In 1956 he sold it to a group of individuals who converted it to a restaurant. It is in a 10 acre site on the side of a mountainside.


Planning Grid

Location:

Stokesay Castle, Shropshire

Grid Reference

SO 436817 - OS Map 217

Map Link:

VIEW MAP

Getting there:

7 miles NW of Ludlow off A49 just south of Craven Arms 1 mile away.

Access:

From it's own car park you walk through church yard and enter through the ornate gatehouse, along cobbled courtyard.

Parking:

It has it's own free car park.

Facilities:

Toilets. Audio Tour. Tearoom open 1st Apr-31st Oct for tea and cakes. Disabled access- call site for details.

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

13th Century fortified manor house, which includes a timber framed impressive gatehouse, and 2 impressive towers. From the south tower you can get on top and get the panoramic views of the open countryside. There is also a small cottage-style garden with flowers and insects and borders. Good site for panoramas from the tower and inside the grounds. Also Church.

What to take:

Camera, Tripod, Grads. If it rains there is plenty to see within the buildings, however an umbrella may be useful to get from the car.

Nature watching:

 

Best Times to Visit:

 

Address:

Stokesay, Craven Arms, Shropshire

Postcode:

SY7 9AH

Telephone:

01588 672544

E-mail:

 

Website:

www.english-heritage.org.uk/stokesaycastle

Opening times:

1 Mar-30 Apr, incl BH Mondays and
1 Sept-31 Oct Wed-Sun 10am to 5pm

1 May -30 Jun daily 10am to 5pm

1 Jul-31 Aug daily 10am to 6pm

1 Nov-28 Feb Thu-Sun 10am to 4pm

Closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan

Charges:

English Heritage Members - Free; Non-Members Adults 4.90; Family 12.30 Concession 3.70

Photo Restrictions and Copyright:

No commercial photography is allowed in all their grounds, it is not permitted in some buildings for conservation purposes, usually a no photography symbol is present on entry to the building where this restriction is in place.

Other useful websites:

 

CIN Page Ref:

StokesayCastle

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