The peaceful South Shropshire Hills belie the fact that for centuries it was an area of conflict often between the English and the Welsh and is now part of what became known as the Welsh Marches. The coflicts led to the building of numerous castles. It is possible to visit several of them as they are within a reasonable distance of the Lodges and before to our visit we decided to spend a day visiting one of them.
Montgomery Castle is just over the border in Powys. Situated on a crag overlooking the town of Montgomery it has superb views of the surrounding countryside. The town itself is well worth a visit and Bunner’s Ironmongers is a must, perhaps one of the last shops where you can still buy “4 Candles.” Again, just over the border, is Powys Castle built by a Welsh prince in the 13th. Century. Today it is noted for the wonderful gardens maintained by the National Trust with the yew tree hedges being a must see feature. We spent some time there nearly two years ago and the children enjoyed following the Easter egg trail. We didn’t visit the castle at that time.
Chirk Castle was built in 1310 its main function being to subdue the last Princes of Wales. It too is now a National Trust property and boasts over 5.5 acres of gardens and is surrounded by 480 acres of parkland with several attractive walks, one of which passes the “gate of the Dead” with its ancient oak tree and the site of the Battle of Grogan. In early spring the snowdrops in the woods are beautiful.
Stokesay Castle constructed at the end of the 13th. Century is without doubt the finest and best preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. We actually visited here some time ago and enjoyed finding several carvings on the old timber framed gatehouse including Adam and Eve, an angel and the so-called Stokesay dragon.
Shrewsbury Castle was built circa 1070. It was briefly held by Llwelyn the Great in 1215. Today it houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum.
After much deliberation we decided to visit Ludlow Castle best know perhaps for the fact that Katherine of Aragon lived there after her marriage to Prince Arthur, Henry 8th’s elder brother. It was one of the first stone castles built in England. The town itself has much to offer. With nearly 500 listed buildings it is a treat in itself to wander the streets comparing the different styles of architecture. Castle Square has many local shops to explore which we did!
On return to the lodge we enjoyed a glass of wine in the hot tub watching two Red Kites circling silently overhead. Happily no conflicts here now.