Just a hop, skip and a jump over the Welsh border into Shropshire and a drive through Clun Valley took us to the picturesque Stokesay Castle, yesterday.
Situated in the South Shropshire valley of Onny, between Craven Arms and Ludlow, Stokesay Castle is one of England’s best-preserved medieval fortified manors. I’d driven past it many times on my way to places such as Ludlow, Leominster, Hereford and Ledbury, yet somehow in all my years I’d never stopped and visited. Yesterday, with blue skies and bright sunshine, we decided to make the most of it and finally visit Stokesay Castle.
Built in the 1280s and early 1290s, with its beautiful gatehouse built in the mid 17th century, Stokesay Castle is now an English Heritage property. There are a gift shop and a delightful little tearoom on site, with a number of tables and benches available around the grounds, as well as plenty of room for picnics outside the visitor centre or by the car park.
We parked in the car park (Beware: There is a £1 charge for parking via a coin-only operated parking meter) and walked through the churchyard to the castle grounds. If you have time, I would recommend taking a look around the church. We were surprised to find the church door unlocked and visitors welcome to look inside.
Having paid our entry fees in the visitor centre (£7.00 for an adult, £6.20 for an OAP or FREE for English Heritage members), we were faced with one of the most beautiful entrances I’ve ever seen – The Gatehouse.
The Gatehouse contains the castle tearoom, which sells a variety of snacks (sandwiches, toasties, salads, cakes, biscuits etc) and drinks. We were ready for a refreshingly cold drink by the time we’d finished looking around Stokesay Castle and took them outside to sit on a bench and watch the garden birds flitting about.
English Heritage has kept the thirteenth-century buildings simple, uncluttered and unfurnished. It gives visitors a real sense of the building, meaning you focus more on the architecture. The fact that the buildings remain largely unchanged by time means it’s not hard to imagine life there over the centuries.
A free audio tour is available to accompany visitors around the castle, but we didn’t take up the offer, instead preferring to make our own way around, seeing what we could find.
Having now visited Stokesay Castle, I can’t believe I hadn’t visited before. I’ll certainly be visiting again!
We spent the morning at Stokesay Castle before heading to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre (just down the road in Craven Arms) for lunch and stopping by Clun Castle on the way home.
This is just a small selection of the photos I took at Stokesay Castle. If you’d like to see more, please visit my Flickr account.