English Heritage Site
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.
outside of the Great Barn and
Interior of the Great Hall
|Roof of Great Hall
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
436817 - OS Map 217
7 miles NW of
Ludlow off A49 just south of Craven Arms 1 mile away.
From it's own
car park you walk through church yard and enter through the ornate
gatehouse, along cobbled courtyard.
It has it's
own free car park.
Tour. Tearoom open 1st Apr-31st Oct for tea and cakes. Disabled access- call
site for details.
Things To Do,
See and Photograph:
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:
Tripod, Grads. If it rains there is plenty to see within the buildings,
however an umbrella may be useful to get from the car.
Best Times to
Craven Arms, Shropshire
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
Heritage Members - Free; Non-Members Adults £4.90; Family £12.30 Concession
Restrictions and Copyright:
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.
CIN Page Ref:
Please let us know any other information that we
can add to this Planning Grid or page and any errors that you discover. All our
information is only as up to date as members have provided, so please remember
to tell us of any errors or updates so that we can all benefit by sharing our
knowledge and experience. Before making a long trip to any location it is always
wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be
correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of
course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have
any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page
then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you
quote the CIN Page Ref at the bottom of the Planning Grid above. To print the
planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.
Please submit information on locations you discover so
that this system continues to grow.