Acton Burnell Castle

Acton Burnell Castle

Down a lane in deepest, darkest Shropshire lie the peaceful remains of Acton Burnell Castle. I hadn’t actually intended on visiting them that Friday morning a few weeks ago, but upon discovering my intended destination was closed to visitors for the day, I navigated the Shropshire lanes and found Acton Burnell Castle.

Acton Burnell Castle

As with nearby Stokesay Castle, Acton Burnell Castle isn’t really a castle, it’s a fortified manor house. In 1284, Robert Burnell obtained a license from King Edward I to fortify his house, although the large windows on the first floor mean the fortification was more than likely there to impress rather than as means of defence. Robert Burnell was an important man within the royal service. He began as a clerk to Edward I whilst Edward was still a prince, then became Chancellor of England and Bishop of Bath and Wells. Edward I had wanted Robert Burnell to become Archbishop of Canterbury, but this wasn’t to be (most likely because Robert Burnell kept a mistress who was rumoured to have bore a number of children).

Acton Burnell Castle

Acton Burnell Castle is of national historical significance. In 1283, Edward I held a parliament there in the tithe barn. It is thought that this parliament was the first at which commoners were represented. The gable ends of the tithe barn still stand, but they now sit within the grounds of Acton Burnell Hall (now home to Concord College) which was built next to the castle in the 18th century.

Acton Burnell Hall (Concord College)
Acton Burnell Hall (Concord College)

The castle was abandoned by 1420, although a roof was added to the south-west tower in the 18th century to convert it into a dovecote. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

Much of the outer walls of Acton Burnell Castle still survive, giving visitors a good idea of what it looked like when it was a fully functioning home. It really is just a shell though, so imagination is needed once inside.

Acton Burnell Castle
Acton Burnell Castle
Inside Acton Burnell Castle
Inside Acton Burnell Castle
An outer wall of Acton Burnell Castle
An outer wall of Acton Burnell Castle

Despite being deep in Shropshire countryside, Acton Burnell Castle is fairly well signposted from the A49 between Church Stretton and Shrewsbury. Although, finding your way out of the network of lanes may prove to be not so easy if you decide to go elsewhere afterwards.

Entry to Acton Burnell Castle is free for everyone. There is a small parking area with room for about 5 cars and access is via a gate leading to a short path through a wooded area to the castle itself. Dogs on leads are welcome and there is plenty of grass to sit on should you wish to take a picnic. Acton Burnell Castle is open during reasonable daylight hours, however, the college closes the gates to the access road at dusk.

To make a day of it, I would recommend also visiting the small market towns of Church Stretton and Ludlow, and dropping in on Stokesay Castle whilst travelling between the two towns. Or, if you’d prefer to travel north, try the county town of Shrewsbury and nearby Attingham Park.

9 comments

  1. Hi Nikki,

    I really want to visit both Ludlow and Shrewsbury, both of which we seem to nicely detour, when we drive up to visit our friends in North Wales. The Dobbies Garden Centre Services on the Shrewsbury ringroad, where we stop for a ‘comfort break’, are about as close as we ever seem to get – One Day!!

    We have quite a few ruins belonging to English Heritage around our area, and I am always amazed at the variations in EH admission charging policies across their portfolio. Like Acton Burnell Castle, we only generally now bother stopping at the free admission sites. In fact, it would make so much more sense if EH merged with NT and there was a single annual pass for the two?

    I’m off to check out Church Stretton 🙂

    Yvonne

    • Nikki says:

      Hi Yvonne, I would definitely recommend dropping into both Ludlow and Shrewsbury when you’re next passing. I’ve currently got English Heritage membership. I’ve considered National Trust membership, but it’s more expensive.

  2. Kelly says:

    I’m glad you were able to find another lovely sight to share with us since your first destination was closed. I have a very active imagination when it comes to places like this, so I’m sure I could “see” all sorts of things while touring the grounds. 🙂

  3. Jo says:

    I thought we had a lot of castles here in Yorkshire but the number in Wales was very noticeable on our recent visit, I think you’re spoilt for choice. It’s good when the structure is still there in decent condition, I think you get a much better idea of what it was like in its heyday.

  4. Teacher Riya says:

    This castle is so beautiful, Nikki! Visiting ancient castles, forts, and historic place give us the energy. These places get us back in the age of decades ago.

  5. Kel says:

    Well as far as back-up plans go, this doesn’t look like a bad one at all – its a lovely spot and you’ve taken some beautiful pictures!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *