Stokesay Castle, near Craven Arms, nestles in peaceful South Shropshire countryside near the Welsh Border. It is one of more than a dozen English Heritage properties in the county.
Stokesay Castle is the finest and best preserved 13th century fortified Manor house in England. It offers visitors a unique glimpse into a distant age, when strength and elegance were combined.
Set amid peaceful countryside near the Welsh border, it forms an outstandingly picturesque group with its timber framed gatehouse and the parish church.
Lawrence of Ludlow, who made his fortune as a wool merchant and set up as a country gentleman, acquired the manor in 1281. Extensive recent tree-ring dating confirms that he had completed virtually the whole of the still-surviving buildings by 1291, the date of his ‘licence to crenellate’ from Edward I.
The dating also revealed that Stokesay’s magnificent open-hearthed great hall, with its fine cruck-built timber roof, shuttered gable windows and precipitous staircase, has scarcely been altered since it was built. The north tower displays an original medieval tiled roof and remains of wall painting, while the south tower, with fine views from its roof, contains a panelled solar chamber added in the 17th century. Its dominating feature is a fireplace with richly carved overmantel, still bearing clear traces of gold, pink, red, green and white painting.
Across the courtyard stands the truly delightful gatehouse, an elaborate example of the regional style of lavishly showy timber-framing, with charming carvings of Adam and Eve. This was built in 1640, a few years before Stokesay’s only known military encounter, when it surrendered without fighting during the Civil War.
An audio tour will help you to imagine Stokesay as the centre of medieval life. Its grounds include cottage-style garden and a gift shop. There is also a tearoom open for home-made cakes, light lunches and snacks with a small play area which is situated in the car park. There are hands-on history and family events throughout the summer, please see the website for more details
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