Shropshire Hills & Ludlow


Absorb Historic Shropshire with a Tour of our Castles

Shropshire’s colourful, interesting and turbulent past has littered this beautiful rural county with hillforts, abbeys and castles, all of which displaying the wounds and marks of a stormy history.

Shropshire is home to 32 castles in all, which is quite something. I intend to shine a spotlight on 5 of South Shropshire’s finest and most interesting: Clun, Ludlow, Richard’s Castle, Stokesay, Hopton Castle. What makes the castles of Shropshire so special is the opportunity to take in the landscape around them, in itself reminders of a rich heritage.


Clun Castle is a wonderful example of Norman defensive structures and a visit here, together with the beautiful town will not disappoint. Built in the motte and bailey style around the 1100s by Robert de Say, the original castle was built in timber and later in stone.

It is easy to see why the location was chosen when you visit as defensively its position close to the Welsh borders meant it could keep a close watch of those pesky troublemakers across the border!

Welsh raiders over the centuries are largely responsible for the state of the castle nowadays. Remains of the 80-foot tall keep are still standing today, with one wall resting in the ditch and the opposite wall, sitting on the mound. Remains of the curtain wall, which would once have enclosed the motte, can also still be seen.

The lovely town of Clun has grown-up around the castle and together they are really worth a visit. You can download the Clun Heritage Trails Leaflet here.

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A wonderful day out in Shropshire is to the beautiful South Shropshire town of Ludlow, and no trip here is complete without taking in the magnificent castle. Ludlow Castle has a dynamic, stormy and interesting history, all of which can be learnt, felt and appreciated on a tour.

Ludlow Castle is a medieval fortification standing on a promontory overlooking the River Teme. Built and founded by Roger de Lacy it was gifted to Walter de Lacey after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and was one of the first stone castles to built in England.

Ludlow Castle’s long and colourful history is reflected in its varied architecture: Norman, Medieval and Tudor. From the huge and dominant Outer Bailey, a bridge leads across to the Inner Bailey and the Keep, the Great Chamber and the Ice House, once used to store explosives. Milton’s famous Comus was first performed in the Great Hall in 1634 and the tradition of performance is continues each June and July when the play is performed in the open air within the Inner Bailey, as part of the Ludlow Arts Festival.

To find out more about events in and around the castle visit

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Just south of the historic town of Ludlow is the small village of Richard’s Castle, which is home to the castle of the same name. Though the castle’s fortress as been reduced to mainly earthworks and foundation, it is one of the first Norman Castle’s built before 1066 and its history is fascinating.

Richard’s Castle pre-dates the Norman Conquest by about 16 years, though it was and is thoroughly Norman. Edward the Confessor granted the land to Richard FitzScrob, who built himself a strong castle on it in about 1050. By 1450 the castle was still standing but ruinous, and later housed a farm and its building.

Despite the ruins, a visit to Richard’s Castle is well worth it – for the history if nothing else!

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Stokesay Castle is the finest and most well preserves fortified manor house in England. I absolutely love this wonderful place, with its Great Hall, unchanged for 700 years. Stokesay Castle remains a treasure untouched by the ravages of time and conflict, resulting in its stature as one of the best places to visit in the country to experience what medieval life was like.

Laurence of Ludlow, who, at the time, was one of the richest men in England, built Stokesay Castle towards the end of the 13th century. His wealth is evident in every nook and cranny of this wonderful building. Given how beautifully the castle has been preserved, there is a considerable amount to do on a family day out here.

To make the most of your trip to Stokesay Castle, visit

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Hopton Castle is worth a visit not least because its history is so dramatic. Indeed its violent past is responsible for leaving a ruined keep behind today. This Keep, however is formidable, even in its ruination, telling a story of the deadly part it has played in the history of Norman relations with Wales in the time of Henry II.

It is widely believed that Hopton Castle was built in the late 12th century as a motte and bailey before being fortified in stone in the 1260s. Hopton Castle’s dramatic and violent history only really began during the Civil War, however, when it was garrisoned for Parliament and besieged by the Royalist forces in a fight until the last man. Every man of the garrison was killed and the castle slighted and abandoned.

Hopton Castle was still habitable in 1700 but fell into ruin soon after. Time Team filmed from Hopton Castle in 2010 and you can view the episode here:

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Now if this potted tour guide has wet your whistle, then why not experience these wonderful historic castles on a cycling tour? Wheely Wonderful Cycling has created a tour package that takes in 6 castles, as well as providing plenty of opportunity to soak up Shropshire’s stunning landscapes. If you are interested in finding out more, visit

Louise Welsby

Buy-From Shropshire