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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

9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn

9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Shropshire is an undiscovered county sitting on the edge of the West Midlands between Birmingham and Wales. Here at Hopton House we’re just 6 miles from the Welsh Border and only 1/2 mile from Herefordshire.

It’s not on the main UK tourist trail but one thing is certain; when travellers accidentally come across Shropshire, normally driving through it to get somewhere else or visiting a food festival, they invariably fall in love and return many times.

I love Shropshire for its wonderful countryside; dramatic hills, valleys and woodlands but it’s more than just countryside. There are a few things about Shropshire you might find quite surprising and  many things to do and places to visit. Here are a few of my favourites.

1. Home to the first successful food festival in the UK

Ludlow, in the South of the county and 20 minutes from us, has become well known in recent years for its food festival. It’s held every year in the 2nd weekend of September and was the first successful food festival in the UK. It’s held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and in the surrounding town. If you want to avoid the crowds, go first thing on a Friday.

7 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - visit the Ludlow Food Festival

2. Home to royals

Long before Ludlow became known for food, it was the administrative capital of Wales. Arthur, Prince of Wales, and probably better known as older brother to Henry VIII, was living at Ludlow Castle with his wife, Katharine of Aragon, when he died in 1502.  His heart is buried in St Laurence Church. The castle is home to the annual Medieval Craft Fair during the last weekend in November.

3. The Oldest Brewery in the UK

If you like your beer then Shropshire is the place to visit. It is awash with breweries and Bishops Castle is the home to the Three Tuns brewery, the oldest licensed brewery in the UK. There are several beer festivals held through the year, The Clun Valley beer festival is held in October.

4. The world’s industrial revolution started here

Given  how rural it is, it may come as a bit of a surprise that  Ironbridge in Shropshire was home to the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Today there are many museums for you to explore Shropshire’s industrial past. Blist’s Hill is an open air recreated Victorian Town.

5. Amazing geology

The Long Mynd is well known for being one the most beautiful areas in the UK, but it also has some of the most fascinating geology. The most famous Silurian site in the world is Wenlock Edge. A 400 million year old coral reef is now exposed and lots of fossils have been found here.

9 things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit and walk on the beautiful Long Mynd

6. Walk in the steps of Keira Knightley

If history, food and geology aren’t your thing and you’re more of a film buff, then Stokesay Court was the country house used in the film, Atonement. It’s open for guided tours once a month.  A special thank you to Tim King for letting me use his photo of Stokesay Court.

7 unusual things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit Stokesay Court, where Atonement was filmed

7. Visit the place where the modern Olympic Games all start

If you watched the Olympic Games in London in 2012, you may have wondered why one of the mascots was called Wenlock.  Much Wenlock in Shropshire is home to the Wenlock Olympian Games., which were started by Dr. William Penny Brookes. These games are thought to have inspired the modern Olympic Games that began in 1896.

Much Wenlock is a lovely town to visit and you can follow the Olympic Games Trail.

8. Enjoy amazing autumn colours

Whilst New England in America is renowned for its autumn colours, we also have some amazing displays here in Shropshire on a smaller scale. Last year the colours lasted well into November, which is when I took this picture. The hills turns purple with heather – visit the Stiperstones or the Long Mynd to get the best displays.

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - enjoy beautiful autumn colours

9. Visit Stokesay Castle

Just 6 miles from Hopton House, visit  the finest and best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. Stokesay Castle was built in the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England.

9 Things to do in Shropshire - visit Stokesay Castle the finest fortified manor house in England

Discover Shropshire for yourself. Hopton House is perfectly located to visit all of these places. Check availability and book online today!

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn | visit English Castles | enjoy amazing scenery and autumn colours | visit the home of the modern Olympic Games and the industrial revolution