Category Archives: castles

Shropshire Castles

Shropshire Castles

It’s quite difficult to explore the Welsh Marches without bumping into a castle.

The Welsh Marches is a beautiful area with green hills, hidden valleys and woodlands. It covers the borderlines between England and Wales. If you stay away from the touristy parts ( and to be honest we don’t have too many of those ) it’s possible to walk all day without seeing another person. But today’s peace and quiet belies a violent and bloody past.

We’re in the border lands here between England and Wales. Some of the bloodiest battles of the English Civil War were fought here. Castles were built all along the border to help in the defense of the lands.

One of the most well known battles of the War of the Roses took place at Mortimer’s Cross. It’s here, in 1446,  that the army of Edward ( crowned Edward IV later that year ) saw a parhelion, which looked like 3 suns were rising at once. They took this as a sign from God that they would be successful. Philippa Gregory fans will have read about this time period in her White Queen Series.

Just north of Mortimer’s Cross is Wigmore castle ( 7 miles South of Hopton House ), which was the castle of the powerful Mortimer clan.

Just a mile from us, a lovely 20 minute walk, is Hopton Castle. It’s known for the bloody massacre that followed a 5 week siege by a group of parliamentarians in 1644. They surrendered, expecting to be taken prisoner, but all but one of them( about 30 men ) were massacred and their bodies left in a pit.

Shropshire Castles - picture shows ruined castle on green mound, reflected in pond against blue sky - Bed and Breakfast Shropshire

The Channel 4 series, Time Team, investigated the site in 2010 ( the whole programme is available on Youtube ). They didn’t find any bodies but decided against searching in the place they were most likely to be buried.

If you believe in these things, Hopton Castle is meant to be the most haunted castle in the Welsh Marches. I wouldn’t go there at night ….but I’ve never had any problems during the day ;-)

Six miles to the west of us lie the ruins of Clun castle. It was besieged by King John in 1216. Clun is a lovely little village with local pubs, tea rooms, the river Clun running through it and a starting point for some beautiful circular walks.

Shropshire Castles - picture shows green mound with ruined Clun Castle on the left and blue skies with why clouds - Clun Shropshire

If you travel 6 miles to the east of Hopton House, you’ll be able to visit Stokesay Castle. Built by Laurence of Ludlow in the 1200’s, it remains one of the best preserved fortified manor houses in England.

Shropshire Castles - picture shows yellow and black beamed building behind grave stones - B&B Shropshire

Finally, I nearly forgot Ludlow Castle ( 11 miles from Hopton House ) Founded in the 11th century, Ludlow has been a very important castle throughout the ages. Probably most famous ( depending on your favourite historical era ) for being the place where Henry VIII’s brother, King Arthur, died whilst he was living there with Catherine of Aragon. Prince Arthur’s heart is buried in St. Laurence’s Church in the town.

shropshire castles - pic shows ludlow castke with trees in front and blue skies and hill behind - english castles

 

 

5 castles to visit in the welsh marches, Shropshire, England. Image shows small ruined castle beside a pond. English Castles

Local Shropshire History

If you were to ask me to name the thing that interests me the most , I’d probably have to see the local wildlife, but I’ve been taking a bit more of a interest in our local Shropshire history just recently.

Man has been living round here for thousands of years and has made his mark on the landscape. We have old drovers roads over a thousand years old. These roads connected village to village and some still exist these days.

We have many iron age hill forts in Shropshire. The Iron Age period covers the 900 years or so from 800BC.

Probably a couple of the  most famous historical periods that Shropshire is know for are the times of the War of the Roses and Tudor times when Ludlow Castle was an important stronghold.

In the War of the Roses the battle of Mortimers Cross was fought about 10 miles south of here.

Of course we have Hopton Castle within a 20 minute walk of the house. We actually had time team here a few years ago investigating its very bloody history. You watch the programme of youtube here.

But there are also lesser known mounds and earthworks that give a hint to what went on round here. I was driving back from Ludlow the other day when I noticed a mound covered with trees in a local field. It’s one of those parts of the landscape that you can’t see once the hedgerows are fully clothed in leaves.

A bit of internet investigation tells me that it is Broadward Hall motte and it’s the remains of a motte castle that controlled a crossing point on the River Clun.  I can’t get a definitive answer for how old it is but Motte Castles were introduced into England after the Normal conquest in 1066 and superseded by other designs in the 13th Century.

There’s a public footpath from the road that takes you along the river and past the motte if you wanted to take a closer look.

A bit more investigation also tells me that Warfield bank, the smaller hill you can see from Hopton House ( an the one that the dogs I are looking at in the photo above ) was also a motte, with speculation locally that it was built on a much earlier iron age fort.

If you’re interested in local history then I recommend a visit to the Ludlow museum.

Hopton Motte - Remains of Motte Castle near Hopton House near Ludlow