16 October, 2007

Photos of the Marches (5)

Stokesay Castle, Shropshire

Stokesay is just outside the small town of Craven Arms, about eight miles from Ludlow. It was built by the rich wool merchant Lawrence of Ludlow in the 1280s - that is, around the time that Edward II was born. Although the castle (really it's a fortified manor house, not a castle) had some defensive capabilties, it was primarily intended as a comfortable residence, not far from the Welsh border, with little chance of an attack from that direction, after Edward I's conquest of Wales.

Stokesay is of particular interest, as it's hardly changed or been added to since the thirteenth century.

The half-timbered gatehouse, below, was built around 1640.

You can see more photos and information about Stokesay here and here, including the interior. Brilliantly, we managed to visit it on a day when it was closed.

Next to the castle is the Church of St John the Baptist, built around 1150. There's an extremely unusual and rather wonderful war memorial in the churchyard, dedicated to the men of the parish who died in both World Wars.

Clun Castle, Shropshire

Tucked away in a remote corner of Shropshire, about sixteen miles from Ludlow and fifteen miles from Roger Mortimer's seat at Wigmore, Clun Castle was originally built about 1140 to 1150 and passed to the Fitzalans, the earls of Arundel.

Unfortunately, there's little left of this formerly magnificent Marcher castle. There are more pictures and information here - when I was there, much of the ruins were covered in scaffolding, and while I was delighted to see that efforts are being made to stop them deteriorating further, it did tend to ruin the photo opportunities somewhat.

Roger Mortimer attacked and captured Clun in May 1321, during the Despenser War (the Earl of Arundel, Edmund Fitzalan, was an ally of Edward II and Despenser). In January 1322, the castle was taken from Mortimer by a Welsh force led by his enemy, Sir Gruffydd Llwyd.

This board shows Clun as the Fitzalans would have known it:


Gabriele Campbell said...

I so need to go back and visit some more of the UK. :)

Kathryn Warner said...

Hope you get back there soon, Gabriele! I can't recommend the Shropshire/Herefordshire area highly enough.

Gabriele Campbell said...

You have a lot of pretty places. I want to go to Wales, too.

Kathryn Warner said...

I don't know Wales nearly as well as I'd like, but Snowdonia is spectacular.

Carla said...

I like the Pembrokeshire coast (extreme south-west Wales). It's Britain's only coastal national park, and well deserves to be. It's amazing in late May when the cliffs are high-rise colonies of seabirds, especially if you get one of the boat trips out to the offshore islands like Ramsay, Skomer or Skokholm. Grassholm's supposed to be fantastic - gigantic gannet colony - but when I was there the boat trip wasn't running. Choughs live on the clifftops and occasionally treat you to aerobatic displays, apparently just for the fun of it. (Choughs are related to crows but they're more cheerful birds, somehow, with bright red legs and beaks. Cousins of the Alpine Chough, which you've likely seen in Germany. Alpine choughs have yellow beaks and steal climbers' sandwiches on the hills around Chamonix).

Stokesay looks like a 'house in the clouds' on the last picture, almost as if it's floating above the trees :-) Very romantic.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks for the tips, Carla - sounds great, especially the avian antics and the red legs! I'd love to see more of South Wales - plenty of castles there, too...;)

Anonymous said...

Wow Stokesay looks like it could be in a fairytale! So lovely. And thanks for the info on the Fitzalans. :)

Kathryn Warner said...

You're welcome, Kate! :) I wanted to write more on the Fitzalans and Clun, but Blogger was playing up, and I posted this while I still could! :)