Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Stokesay Castle

Stokesay is the best preserved fortified medieval manor house in England
Set in the now peaceful countryside near the Welsh border, the castle, timber framed gatehouse, and church form a picturesque group of buildings
Eve
The 17th century gatehouse is constructed in a distinctively Shropshire style featuring elaborate wood carvings including, angels, Adam and Eve and the serpent from the Garden of Eden
 Serpent
Through the gatehouse is the inner courtyard leading to the Great Hall which has remained totally unaltered since the time it was built in 1291
The Great Hall has never had glass in its windows apart from the small area to the left accessed by an outside stairway. This is called the solar - it is where the family had their private living and sleeping quarters. The glass in the solar was considered to be so valuable that it was all removed and hidden each time the family stayed away from their home 
During the winter months can you imagine just how cold, draughty, and damp it must have been in the Great Hall with the wind and rain blowing over from the Welsh Marches through these bare shuttered windows 
Stokesay's magnificent open hearthed great hall displays a fine timber roof considered a rare survival for the period, and a precipitous stairway, its treads cut from whole tree trunks. 
The remains of the central fire pit - there was no outlet for the smoke which would have drifted upwards into the roof timbers
The solar is one of the few areas that has been "modernised" since the medieval period. In 1641 fine panelling and a richly decorated fireplace overmantel were added. The overmantel was originally painted in five colours and with careful observation faint traces of colour can still be seen
the long steep climb to the top of the South Tower was worth making for the views

46 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, An absolutely magnificent building. This is awe-inspiring because such a large, complex object has come down through history virtually intact, not as a ruin or a restoration.
    --Jim

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    1. Delighted that you enjoyed seeing it Jim - the building oozes history, and we too were amazed that The Great Hall stood as it has always done, unchanged, since it was built nearly 800 years ago. Recent dating on the woodwork in the great hall revealed that it had not been altered since it was built.

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  2. Hello Rosemary,
    Stokesay is a gem. You really do find such interesting places to visit and share.
    Its so well looked after and preserved, it certainly was very well built.
    How cold indeed it must have been to be in the big hall and church with the wind and rain blowing in. I wonder if they had some sort of covering!
    The photo you took from the top of the tower- looking down, it seems that the roof there below is made of some sort of brick. ! very different indeed.
    I have been away during these last weeks. Summer has come and gone.
    Now I can hopefully get back to blogging again.. missed you all.
    val xx

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Val and hope that you have had an enjoyable summer - we are still having glorious weather here and long may it continue.
      Stokesay is very picturesque sitting alone in the countryside between Shropshire and Wales, and as you mention a gem.
      The roof is actually made of stone which has been sliced into thin pieces like bread to form tiles.
      Thanks for visiting Val♡

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  3. Stokesay is one of my all time favorite places in the world, we have visited many times, but it's been awhile. Thanks for all the pictures.

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    1. I am very impressed, you have both been to so many places here.

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  4. I love the bit about how they'd hide their glass windows every time they went away for awhile!

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    1. It just goes to show how very spoilt we are today with all our 'mod cons' taken for granted.

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  5. What a fascinating post again, thank you!

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    1. I thank you in return Teresa for your very kind comment

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  6. I didn't know about the glass, I obviously didn't read my guidebook closely enough.

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    1. I got the information from the commentary on the headphones.

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  7. Rosemary, you really know where to look for fascinating places to visit. This one is absolutely glorious. You are right, I would enjoy Shropshire.

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    1. It sits so prettily in the landscape and is a little treasure.

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  8. Rosemary, the arches here are magnificent. This Shropshire style is what I think of as English. I know there are many styles perhaps but this is what pops in my head first. Olive

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    1. Dear Olive it is the carving that is typically Shropshire style, but Shropshire is in England so English style will do just fine.

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  9. Hello Rosemary

    How interesting that Stokesay Castle's Great Hall survived, without glass, and that the woodwork did not rot.
    Love your images from the top of the staircase. Worth the climb, thank you

    Helen

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    1. It really is an exceptional survivor Helen - actually I was surprised that it didn't smell or look damp & mouldy but was fresh and dry.

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  10. Dear Rosemary,

    It's amazing how something like Stokesay Castle can stand unaltered for so long. If it were over here, I fear it would have been turned into a parking lot ages ago!

    I imagine many a Stokesay died an early death of pneumonia!

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    1. Dear Mark - perhaps because Stokesay is in a fairly remote agricultural spot this has been its saviour.
      I don't think that medieval man generally made 'old bones' but this was the home of a very rich wool merchant and would be considered luxurious. The common man would be living in a tiny wooden hovel with mud floors and one door.

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  11. Well, I for one would love a house of yellow stripes and diamonds. It is gorgeous Rosemary, but I suspect I'll have to admire Stokesay Castle from a distance.The Shropshire style is very charming indeed. The woodwork beams in the Great Hall are beautiful, and it is incredible to think how old they are. However, I can certainly imagine the wind and cold creeping through and wonder how people managed. Perhaps with curtained beds and fur coverlets? The story of the removable glass makes one smile - perhaps not so different an attitude to we who secure our possessions before going on holiday. I am enjoying your Shropshire posts very much, thank you.

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    1. I think that it is difficult for us to view the way life was in medieval days because of our own concepts of what life has always been like for us. Hot and cold water, warmth when we want it, glass in our windows, every convenience to make our life more comfortable.
      If you lived here Patricia, you could have a timber framed house and paint it yellow. There are lots of 17th century timber houses that have been converted into 20th century homes with every modern convenience.

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  12. Another impressive castle, love the timber framing of the walls very much used in Denmark too in older times.

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    1. Yes, I like the timber framed houses in Denmark too - they have many similarities with one other.

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  13. It is such an amazing building. I have never heard of Stokesay before, but I am fascinated now. Taking the glass out of the windows to keep it safe is new to me, never heard of that before. So lovely to see all these details, especially the paint on the fireplace. Sometimes I think that we imagine that people just lived in black and white in days gone by, and of course they didn't at all did they! xx

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    1. I have admired Stokesay from afar when travelling along the road from Ludlow towards Craven Arms where it sits snuggly on the hillside. I am pleased that at last we stopped and took a closer look as it certainly is a treasure.
      We tend to take glass for granted and forget that in the medieval period it was mainly only churches that had glass windows.

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  14. Thank you for another interesting post Rosemary. So many places to see "back home".

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    1. If I visited somewhere different every day I would never get round to seeing it all, but I am trying!!!

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  15. Wow, what a fabulously intact building. Your photographic tour of the buildings and surrounds are spectacular Rosemary - I feel as I've just been there myself! Britain oozes wonderful historic buildings but this must stand out amongst them all for its rarity. I so love your posts!!

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    1. Dear Wendy you are very kind with your generous comments, I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing this collection of buildings which really are a medieval treasure trove. Again thank you so much.

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  16. Dear Rosemary,

    As always when I visit you I sit here scrolling up and down the page. Amazed by your beautiful pictures and inspiring words. This is definitely a gem that goes straight on my list of places I want to visit. What a beautiful place and how well preserved it is. But just like you said, it must have been so cold and damp during winter. Thank you for always bringing us along to such beautiful and interesting places Rosemary and thank you for the kind words that you always leave on my blog. You're a star.♥

    Take care!

    Charlie
    xx

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    1. Dear Charlie - Thank you for your lovely comment, I am happy that you enjoyed seeing this beautiful collection of buildings which have stood for 800 years in that pretty spot.
      Visiting your blog is always like visiting an artist who uses photography, I love what I see♡

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  17. Dear Rosemary,such beautiful pictures of the Stokesay castle!
    The history of this place is very interesting!Great images from the top of the staircase!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Dimi...

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    1. It is a wonderful survivor from the medieval period and lucky that it has not been changed at all.

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  18. What an impressive castle/manor house it is Rosemary! I like the details and the amazing woodwork. Thank you for telling us more about it. I will have to remember the castle for when I visit the Welsh border.

    Happy weekend!

    Madelief x

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    1. Stokesay is near the mid-Welsh border, which is in itself a nice area to visit. I hope that your travels will take you in that direction at some stage.
      A happy weekend to you too Madelief♡

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  19. My kind of place...love it!
    Titti

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    1. Me too Titti - it is such a picturesque and genuinely medieval building♡

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  20. Like you, we've always meant to stop and look at Stokesay - now I will make sure we do. I love the traces of colour on the carved wood.

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    1. It has long beckoned to us as we have taken the road towards Craven Arms, but usually we are on our way somewhere else.

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  21. It's always good to be reminded how people once lived (although there are many people living in poverty today who have no protection from the elements.) Wonderful photos Rosemary, must have been wonderful, climbing those worn stone stairs.

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    1. A look at the news on TV everyday reminds us of how many people are living in unimaginable circumstances, I especially think of those escaping Syria.

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  22. Wonderful, wonderful Stokesay - one of my very favourite old houses. We pass it every time we head down the A49 to visit my MiL, though it can be barely seen from the road nowadays.

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    1. It is not so many years ago that I remember being able to see it very clearly from the road, how nature encroaches so rapidly.

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  23. Love this castle, it's wonderful.
    Beautiful images !

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    1. Thank you - it is a fabulous building

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