A Magical Castle just South of Craven Arms.

17 Mar

It was a cooler, overcast day today, so we left the gardening for another day and headed off South West once again. The A49 is now a very familiar track. We continued beyond Church Stretton and through Craven Arms. Stokesay Castle is just beyond , just off the A49.

It is really more of a fortified mansion than a Castle, although the big stone tower does seem very Castle-like. When put to the test during the Civil War, though, not much of a fight was put up and Parliamentarians marched in without much violence. Despite being ordered by Parliament to be “slighted” (destroyed!) very little damage was made and thankfully the place survived to be restored much later for everyone to enjoy.

   We enjoyed a sandwich in the campervan on the car park and got voyeured  by a new age traveller who peered in the rear window after eyeballing the rear “dash” cam. It was actually quite funny to experience as it is difficult to see us inside through the tinted privacy glass. It was very cold and breezy but dry when we went to pay the entry fee of this English Heritage property. Costing around £14 or so for a couple, we decided to go the whole hog and joined for 12 months, getting a free extra 3 months as part of the deal. So, for £67 we have 15 months to see some of the 400 plus locations. Pretty good value, if , like us, you have the time to achieve the visits.

 

Normally, I don’t bother with audio tours but with no detailed chamber by chamber signage, we each took the little phone sized devices and started at the gatehouse main door. The audio guide was first rate and addictive. It was not a busy day and we went about unhindered and without pressure from other visitors.

One of the first places to see was the great hall and as we passed through the huge, nailed , timber defensive door, I felt a huge feeling of deja vu. Size-wise and style-wise, to me, it was a dead ringer to the massive , 3 storey barn, attached to my brother’s farmhouse, which is somewhere between Limoges and Clermont Ferrand in the centre of France. There was a tremendous draught blowing through the windows , across the hall and into the courtyard. It would have had an open fire on the octagonal and surprisingly small fire “circle”. It would have been smokey and chilly methinks.

  Up the stairway from the great hall and you are in the tower shown here. A large fireplace reminded us of just how chilled we were. The opening in the wall probably held a large lamp. Here there were views of the Church. This “suite” of rooms reminded me of Little Moreton Hall, close to our home in Cheshire.

The church yard had a handful of trees carrying pink blossom but we did not walk around the church as a funeral was taking place and we did not want to intrude.

The final part of the tour went via the “solar” suite which is between the great stone tower and the great hall. We braved the icy wind and viewed the surroundings from the battlements.

The “solar” room was probably the most modern in appearance. Wood panelling and a fireplace added at a later date gave the room a warmth. No wonder it was supposedly the most popular room of most of the later inhabitants. It would have had leather floor coverings.

This has to be one of my favourite destinations, despite the very cold conditions. The little tea room does excellent hot chocolate and cakes. It is a must visit recommendation.

English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw (see post below) and the National Trust have reciprocal discounts. We have pretty much exhausted “local” visits to National Trust properties, even allowing for the extended overnight visits easily possible with a campervan.    see http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/   and   http://cadw.gov.wales/?lang=en

then there’s https://members.historic-scotland.gov.uk/  and last but not least https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

 

 

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