Stokesay Castle, Craven Arms and Shrewsbury

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August 19th 2018
Published: August 24th 2018
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This morning Bernie and I drove down to Stokesay Castle in the small town of Craven Arms. This was yet another opportunity to use our English Heritage OVP. Today we saved ourselves another £8.30 each.

The castle is right beside the St John the Baptist Church. Always keen to photograph atmospheric old churches we wandered into the churchyard first to take a few photos of the church and shots of Stokesay Castle with old gravestones in the foreground. After a circuit of the church we went back out into the lane to walk along to the castle entrance ... or so we thought. In fact, all we found down the lane was the private driveway into the local farm.

We strolled back into the churchyard and found that the entry to the castle was via a small gate in the side of the churchyard. We showed our OVP at the desk and received a free audioguide and a map of the points for which commentary is provided.

The commentary was narrated by a woman who played a role in saving Stokesay Castle. She visited the castle and found it unkempt and unloved and in danger of succumbing completely to the ravages of time. She promptly returned home to write a letter to the absent owner beseeching him to repair and maintain the castle for posterity’s sake. Fortunately her appeal was heard and the fortunes of Stokesay Castle were turned around.

Stokesay Castle is, in fact, a fortified manor house rather than a true castle. It was built late in the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow who was, at the time, the leading wool merchant in England. I particularly liked the castle gatehouse which is a quaint half-timbered building that perches over the moat. Owned and tenanted by a number of families between the 13th and 20th century it passed into the guardianship of English Heritage in 1992.

We finished up yet another EH/NT visit with lunch in the on site cafe. We have found the sandwiches to be good quality and reasonably priced and, apparently, the profits go back into maintaining the properties so it seemed like it was win/win if we spent our money buying food on site rather than trying to find somewhere else to eat.

The weather improved dramatically as we drove back to Shrewsbury and we actually had blue sky and sunshine by the time we arrived back in St Julian’s Car Park. We walked down to the river and around to English Bridge to take some photos looking across the River Severn to Abbey Foregate with the sun shining. Then we tried to photograph the old city walls and the Roman Catholic Cathedral from the corner of the car park. It still wasn’t an ideal viewpoint - the damn bowling club was locked up tight and pretty much had the monopoly on the best vantage point from which to photograph. If only we could have accessed the greens for the perfect photo!!

We took a few things back to the apartment before heading out again for the next landmark on our list, St Chad’s Anglican Church. As we had hoped, nearly all evidence of the infrastructure installed for last weekend’s flower show had now been packed up and taken to its next event.

St Chad’s is rather controversially round. Scottish architect George Steuart, who had designed nearby Attingham Park and a church in Wellington, was commissioned. He submitted various designs and the Church Council preferred one with a traditional rectangular layout. With his preference being for something more innovative he submitted another round design to the Church Council. When they didn’t respond he assumed they approved and proceeded to prepare detailed plans. When the Church Council objected he said he would be happy to draw up new plans, but would have to be paid for the work already done on the plans for a round church! The Church Council, unwilling to spend money on another set of plans, rather reluctantly agreed to proceed with the round church!

With black clouds rolling in over Shrewsbury we decided it was time to head back to the apartment, hopefully before we were caught out in the rain. When we arrived Kath and Albert told Bernie that the Internet had stopped working again. When Bernie checked it out he discovered that the problem this time was that our host’s data allowance had been exhausted. Hmmn, that might have been due to the football being streamed onto the television via Kath’s laptop??? Distressed at the prospect of being without the Internet until we are back in Stalybridge tomorrow afternoon, Bernie found that our host’s mobile hotspot account was unsecured. Rather cheekily, he wondered, what happens if I select the 10 Gig package and press buy?? Well, whadayaknow - we were back on the Internet!!

Tonight we went to the Henry Tudor House for dinner. It was only 6.45pm and, as we found in Haworth last Sunday night, there were no more roast dinners to be had. Sunday roast dinner is obviously very popular here. We were told that the rest of the ‘Classic’ menu was available so we took our chances with that. I baulked at the price of a steak (£22.00) so went for the burger instead. Bernie selected the lasagne and Kath and Albert had the pie of the day.

A quirky part of the pub’s decor is portraits of deceased English personalities portrayed in Tudor dress. We recognised Freddie Mercury, George Michael and David Bowie with ease, but had to ask who the young woman was. Cilla Black! What made this one difficult though, was that the artist worked from a photo of Cilla when she was just 17. The waiter told us that we could find more portraits in the front part of the pub. On our way out we checked out Sid Vicious, Eric Morecombe, Amy Winehouse, John Bonham and, Bernie thinks, Marc Bolan. The waiter also mentioned that the staff are running a deadpool as to who the next person will be to join the dearly departed on the walls. He’s got his money on Elton John.

It was Albert’s night again tonight at cards with him winning a game of Jo and then a game of 31s.

Steps: 13,711 (10.29kms)

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 26


Ebenezer ScroogeEbenezer Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge

I thought he was only a Dickens character

25th August 2018

Wish I was there with you.
Loving all your 'blogging' Tracey, and the photos are wonderful. Such an unusual trip; definitely off the beaten track. But where's Steven?? Haven't seen him in a photo for some time. Thanks for sharing journey with us.

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