Stokesay Castle, Stokesay, Shropshire

Upper room in priest’s tower, Stokesay Castle
1950s (earlier photo)
Publisher: Walter Scott

Google Street View.

Stokesay is one of the first fortified manor houses in England: almost all the surviving house was completed by 1291. Its walls and moat (the former demolished in the 1640s) outside, and strongrooms within, provided a degree of security, though in reality its military appearance was superficial: it could never have withstood a serious siege, as the expansive windows on both sides of the hall make clear. Meanwhile the symmetry of Stokesay’s layout – with a tower at each end of the residential complex and a regular sequence of gables and windows in the hall between them – bears witness to the taste, wealth and importance of its owner.
English Heritage

Stokesay Castle is a remarkable survival, a fortified manor house which has hardly altered since the late 13th century. The house was built by Lawrence Ludlow, a leading wool merchant of his day, who created a comfortable residence combining an aesthetically pleasing design with some defensive capabilities. In doing so, he took advantage of the newly established peace on the Welsh border following Edward I’s defeat of the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Last. This enabled him to build a large hall, comfortable solar, or private apartment, with windows on the outside world, without fear of attack.
Castles of Wales

Plan of Stokesay Castle (from Wikimedia Commons).

The three-storey north tower is reached by a 13th-century staircase in the hall, which leads onto the first floor. The first floor was divided into two separate rooms shortly after the construction of the tower, and contain various decorative tiles, probably from Laurence’s house in Ludlow. The walls of the second floor are mostly half-timbered, jettying out above the stone walls beneath them; the tower has its original 13th-century fireplace, although the wooden roof is 19th-century, modeled on the 13th-century original, and the windows are 17th-century insertions.

Ludlow Castle, Ludlow, Shropshire

Ludlow Castle
c.1910 (photo is from 1892)
Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate

Google Street View.

Ludlow Castle is first referred to by chroniclers in 1138, but its date of origin is not certain. The architecture suggests that the curtain wall of the inner bailey, its flanking towers and parts of the gatehouse-keep date from the late 11th century. The site of Ludlow was in a corner of the important manor of Stanton, held since 1066 by the de Lacy family. The level building surface and the steep slopes to the north and west made this a fine defensive position. The rivers Teme and Corve gave further protection. Most of the castle was built of chunky Silurian limestone quarried from its own site. It was one of a line of Norman castles along the Marches, built to pacify the countryside and hold back the unconquered Welsh.
Castles of Wales

Walter de Lacy, a trusted member of the household of William fitzOsbern arrived in England with the conquering army of William in 1066. FitzOsbern was rewarded for his loyal part in William’s victory with an Earldom over the lands of Hereford. After three years of local resistance, fitzOsbern was able to claim his Earldom and planned to keep his new acquisition secure by developing a string of castles along the border of England and Wales. Walter’s sons, first Roger and then Hugh built the earliest surviving parts of the Castle that we can still see today, and the de Lacy family retained lordship until the end of the 13th century.

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Ludlow Castle was held by the Crown, except for a brief time during the Civil War and the Commonwealth. It enjoyed great status as the centre of administration for the Marches shires and for Wales – court sessions and the Prince’s Council were held here. This led to massive refurbishment of the buildings and the castle became styled more in the way of an Elizabethan stately home.
Ludlow Castle

The construction of the Ludlow Castle started around 1085, with many later additions in the following two centuries. It is one of the most interesting castles in the Marches, in a dominant and imposing position high above the river Teme. It features examples of architecture from the Norman, Medieval and Tudor periods. The building of the castle led to the development of Ludlow itself, at first grouped around the castle; the impressive ruins of the castle occupy the oldest part of Ludlow.In the late 12th and early 13th centuries the castle was extended, and part of the grid pattern of streets immediately to the south was obscured by the enlarged outer bailey. From 1233 onwards the town walls were constructed; Ludlow Castle stood within the circuit of the walls.

Ludlow Castle, Doorway of Keep
c.1910 (photo is from 1903)
Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate

Access to the upper floors of the [Great Tower] is by a spiral stair to the east, reached by an ornamented doorcase, the Tudor arch having a trefoiled lintel flanked by cusped panelling and trefoiled lintel, which also gives access to rooms in the [16h Cenutry] Judges’ Lodgings
Historic England

Google Street View. (at rear)

Ground Floor Plan, “Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II“, George Thomas Clark, 1884

The keep, which stands on the highest part of the ground, and consists of a basement and three floors, was probably built by Roger de Lacy, and forms on its S. face part of the wall of the ward ; it is rectangular, and has had later constructions added to it on the E. and W. The basement is vaulted, and has an arcade of Norman work. A newel stair conducts to the several floors ; the first being a room 30 feet by lyi feet, having a mural chamber and a garde- robe, and the stair communicates on both sides with the walls, an unusual feature in a keep. The floors were of timber, and Tudor windows have replaced the Norman lights.

The salient is formed by a group of towers with wondrous thick walls, having the buttery below, and giving exit to a large sewer. Set against this is a second tower, half octagonal, from which stretches S.E. a strong short wall forming the W. end of the great hall, of which the curhiin continuing is its N. side, pierced with three tall Early English windows on the exterior. Below this wall on the outside is a broad platform, whence a second steep slope descends to the fields beneath. Beyond the Hall are the state apartments, and attached to these, projecting from the wall, is an immense garderobe tower of five stages. Then come the private lodgings, of Decorated style, with much Tudor alteration and insertion.
The castles of England, their story and structure“, James Dixon Mackenzie, 1896 p.142