near Craven Arms, Shropshire, England
The castle is situated in the small village of Stokesay, 7 miles from Ludlow in the Marches; the border area between England and Wales.
Stokesay Castle is considered to be the best preserved and finest fortified medieval manor house in England.
The site contains the castle with its rare medieval wall paintings, a church and a half timbered gatehouse all set in cottage gardens. The castle’s two towers are joined by the Great Banqueting Hall with its huge fireplace and roof timbers made from whole trees. The north tower has the original medieval tiled floor and wall paintings as well as housing the ‘solar’ or private apartments on the upper floor. The south tower; the part of the house which most resembles a castle, is self contained.
Stokesay Castle is open to the public daily between April and September 10am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday during October and March and from Thursday to Sunday from November to February.
Visitors can take an audio tour of the site which brings to life the castle during the medieval times as well as visit the church and cottage style gardens. The tearoom and gift shop are also open daily in the main season.
At the time of the Norman conquest the manor house on the site was granted to the Lucy family and it wasn’t until 1281 when it was purchased by Lawrence of Ludlow; the areas richest wool merchant, that the main structure was constructed over a period of ten years.
Edward I gave a license to crenellate, and during the 16th century the Elizabethan half timbered gatehouse was added, the castle was then developed throughout he next ten generations of the of Laurence’s descendents.
During the reign of Charles I and at the beginning of the Civil War, the castle was owned by the Craven family and it was used as a support base for the Kings troops who were stationed at nearby Ludlow Castle. The castle was surrendered to the parliamentarians without substantial damage following a short siege.
By 1706 the castle had been abandoned and for the following 150 years was only used by local farmers as storage. It wasn’t until 1850 when the Victorians became interested in gothic architecture that the castle became of interest again. In 1869 ownership passed to John Darby Allcroft who set about restoring and maintaining the castle, on the death of Lady Magnus Allcroft in 1992 the estate passed to English Heritage.
Other Castles in the Area
Acton Burnell Castle, Shropshire
Clun Castle, Shropshire
Croft Castle, Herefordshire
Ludlow Castle, Shropshire
Wigmore Castle, Herefordshire
Powis Castle, Powys