Friday, 23 March 2018

Clun Castle, Clun, Shropshire

Another day, another Castle, this time the ruins of Clun Castle, managed by English Heritage.  Clun Castle was built after the Norman Invasion of England.  In the 12th Century it became the home of a Marcher Lord, a noble appointed by the King Of England to guard the border between England and Wales.  The Castle was still prospering in the 13th Century although it was attacked several times.  During the 14th Century it was used as a Hunting Lodge although it was starting to become neglected.  By 1539 there are records that the Castle was in ruin.

Unusually the 13th century Keep is set on the side of the mound that the Castle was built on.  The mound that the Castle sits on is a rocky natural mound

This great tower was an impressive four-storey apartment block, which stood at least 28 meters (90 feet high).  The building provided luxury accommodation, the grandest rooms were on the top floor.

You certainly get some impressive views from the Castle.

It always amazes me at the precarious angels some of the old ruins manage to stand at, it does make you wonder how much longer they can possibly remain.

Here you can see some of the earthworks.

In the center of this shot you can see a bridge that takes you over the River Clun and back to the town.

Before the Castle was built there was a small Saxon settlement at Clun, this was expanded and the layout was altered during the 12th Century.  You can see part of  Clun in the background, tucked behind the Bowls Club, what lovely surroundings for a game of bowls. 

This is a lovely stone bridge in the Town that spans the River Clun, the bridge dates from the 1450's.

Some useful web sites:

Monday, 26 February 2018

Bridgnorth, Shropshire

Last year we visited Bridgenorth whilst staying in Shropshire, the town is split into two by the Severn Valley, with the River Severn running along the valley floor, with High Town being on the right river bank and Low Town on the left river bank.

There is documented evidence of a settlement here as early as 895, with the town itself being created in 1101.

The building that stands out at one of The High Street is the 17th Century, half timbered Town Hall.  The Hall was built on stilts to provide a covered market place.

Like a lot of market towns there are always lots of little alleyways to explore often with designer shops.

At the end of this alleyway we came across The Friars Public House.  This building was first licensed as a posting house back in 1828, a posting house being an Inn where horses were kept for postriders or for hire to travellers.  Over the years it has also been a brewery, cider house and a blacksmith.

We then followed the signs taking us to the ruins of Bridgnorth Castle and grounds, although very little of the castle remains.  The church tower that you can see to the right as you enter the Castle Grounds belongs to The Church Of St Mary Magdalene, the original church was built around 1238 and used to be part of the Castle complex.  The church that you see today was built 1792 and 1795.

Here you can see the precarious remains of the Castle which was originally founded in 1101.  During the Civil War, Bridgnorth was one of the Midlands main strongholds for the Royalists, with many troops being garrisoned here in 1642.  In 1646 Oliver Cromwell and his troops took over the Castle and he ordered its destruction, this section of the tower is all that was left standing.  The tower now has a lean of 15 degrees, 4 times that of the Leaning Tower Of Pisa.

Even in September the grounds still had some lovely displays of flowers especially these lovely yellow roses.

Here you can see an information board giving a brief history of the Castle.

We were just about to walk under a wrought iron arch when I just spotted this Orb-weaver Spider hanging around on its web.

We found a footpath at the edge of the Castle that seemed to take us around to the Lower part of the Town so decided to follow it, there are some impressive views from up here looking down on the Lower Town.

Here we get a better view of the River Severn and the bridge spanning it.

I am always on the look out for weather veins and was surprised to see this one, the first Elephant that I have come across.

Turning a corner on the footpath we got our first glimpse of the Castle Hill Railway the funicular railway.  The railway uses a cable traction for movement up and down the steep slope from Upper Bridgnorth to Lower Bridgnorth.  The line is one of only 4 in the UK and the incline is 33 degrees.  Until the Railway was constructed in 1891 and opened in 1892, the only way to get from Upper Bridgnorth to Lower Bridgnorth was via 200 steps.

Originally the system was powered by water and gravity.  Water was pumped into a tank beneath the top car until the combined weight was heavier than the bottom car so the top car would move down the track and the bottom car would move up.  The water underneath the car was then pumped back up to the top and the process would happen all over again.  Between 1943 and 1944 the system was rebuilt to run on electricity which is still the power used today.

We had to give it a go, the fare - £1.60 return.

Down in Lower Bridgnorth we walked over the bridge that we had seen from the Castle footpath, over the River Severn.

The company advertised on the side of this building is still trading and can be found in Bridgnorth's Livestock Market.

The Boatyard Public House, nestled below the clock tower.

The bridge you see today was built in 1823 but there had been a bridge at this site for much longer than that.

You would never believe that we are heading back to the Railway Station to get the venicular train back up to Upper Bridgnorth.

More of the narrow side streets to explore.

The tower of the old Market Hall, one of only three buildings still remaining in Shropshire, during the Victorian era these buildings were built in most of the market towns in Shropshire to house the market traders during market day.  The buildings were designed in an Italian style with a 151 feet clock tower so that the time could be seen by all at the market.

This busy butchers shop window stopped me in my tracks, there was so much to choose from, including several items of off cuts and bones for the doggies in our lives.

At the end of this road you can just see St Leonards Church which stands on the highest point of Bridgnorth.  There has been a religious building on this site since the 13th Century, the current church was rebuilt in 1860.

The only remaining Town Gates stands here, called Northgate, which now houses a museum.  The building is built of sandstone, because this is a very soft material the gate has been patched up, rebuilt with brickwork and refaced over the years.

Useful web sites:

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Croft Castle and Parkland, Yarpole, Nr Leominster, Herefordshire

While we were staying in Shropshire we had a day out to Croft Castle and Parkland in Herefordshire, in the Welsh Marches.  The first Castle was built by Bernard de Croft, a Norman Knight around 1055.  Although today it is more of a Fortified Manor House, which had been in the Croft family for nearly 1,000 years before being handed over to the care of the National Trust in 1957.  There is evidence that this area has been occupied for at least 4,500 years, starting with Iron Age farmers living on the Croft Ambrey Hillfort, which we will visit later.

There was a lovely carpet of Miniature Cyclamen along the pathway leading to the Castle.

You can see where the name Castle comes from when you see the towers and ramparts making the building look very impressive.  The building we see today originated in the 14th Century and was probably built by Sir Richard Croft a royal official for Kings Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III and Henry VII and has been altered over the years, to its present look.

It was quite busy inside the Castle so I concentrated my photos on certain items that jumped out at me.  One of the rooms had several book cases with several volumes of books.

I liked the way that this door had been decorated so that it blended into the wall so when closed you would hardly know it was there.  The room that it opened up into was inside one of the circular towers that can be found on each of the four corners of the Castle.

The inlay of this table was made from actual slithers of stone, the magnify glass provided allowed you to see more of the detail of the highly polished slithers of stone.

Before the days of the mechanical pinball machine you could find the Corinthian 21S.  In this version you have to use the small wooden baton to send the ball bearing on is way around the pins to land in one of the holes which have different values.

When you need a break from playing the Corinthian 21S what not sit down with a glass of something from this elegant drinks set.

Maybe somebody will be sitting playing on this Southwell's magnum opus square piano.  There is an inscription on the piano 'SOUTHWELL FECIT 1784' but as this is far older than any other surviving specimen there is some doubt as to where the date is genuine.

This unusual clock in one of the rooms has a querky feature of a face with eyes that move with the swinging of the pendulum.  There is a name and place on the clock face which reads, John Elliott - London.

Croft Castle was said to have held many impressive dinner parties, one of them being a Hunt Ball which took place in 1930, so the dining room was set up to show off some if its silverware.

Through out the house there is a lot of decorative plaster work especially on this staircase.

This does not look a comfortable toilet, I guess the wide design allowed the ladies to use it with their billowing dresses.

Yet another staircase.

That's one large fireplace, with some interesting features.

Back outside this is the view from the front of the Castle with some old looking trees lining the view.

Here we can see Chapel which stands just to the right of the Castle which is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, it dates back to around the 1300's.  The clock tower was added in the 17th Century.

This monument is to Sir Richard Croft who died in 1509 and his wife Eleanor, who lies next to him.  Lady Eleanor was the widow of Sir Hugh Mortimer, who was the uncle of the Duke Of York.

Back outside we are heading around the side of the Castle to the rear.

In one of the outbuildings to the rear you can see items used in carrying out laundry duties.  It certainly looked like hard work.

The garden at the rear here is walled and contains an orchard.

I have seen several Bug Hotels at various locations and love the individual designs, a good way of recycling.

A display of some of the items found, or to be seen, around the grounds.

I think these lovely looking flowers are Astrantia, a herbaceous plant also know as Masterwort.

This sea of pink that is attracting insects I think is a Sedum also know as Sedum Stonecrop.

Judging by the lean and the wind damage, these conifers have been here for sometime.

This Pink Poppy has some lovely patterns inside its petals.

An Anemone with its striking ring of yellow stamen against its pure white petals.

This glasshouse dates back to 1908 and was built by J. Weekes and Co, botanical engineers of London.  The National Trust have been restoring it over the last 12 months and are at the final stages.

A glasshouse is a good home for a collection of Cacti.

This Dahlia head looks stunning especially in this colour.

There is still lots of colour to be seen around the gardens even in September, when we were there.

These striking yellow flower are Blackeyed Susan or Rudbeckia hirta.

Croft Castle has the only working vineyard managed by the National Trust, the vineyard was established in 1979.  A case of 6 bottles will set you back around £108.

Part of the Edwardian stable block.

There is currently an exhibition here telling the some of the story of Croft Castle during the First World War.

We have now headed out into the parklands and woodlands that surround the Castle they cover an area of 1,500 acres.  Again you can see some very old trees around here.

A Speckled wood Butterfly basking in the warm sunshine.

We have now made our way up to the site of the Croft Ambrey Iron Age Hill Fort.  It has a triangular layout and covers an area of 32 acres.

You certainly get some impressive views across the Welsh Marches from here.

Now at this point I have to say that I did not take any photos until we came across the Fishpool in Fishpool Valley, the reason for this, we had got lost.  We were supposed to be following the Carriage Ride Walk, but at some point we lost the markers and were amongst very tall trees and had no idea which direction we were heading.  To make matters worse it was 4pm and we knew the carpark closed at 5pm, if it hadn't have been for a couple of dog walkers who pointed us in the right direction, I was on the verge of phoning the Castle to let them know.

Eventually by 4.30pm and just as it was starting to rain we found are way back to the carpark, and were greeted with this lovely Rolls Royce Silver Dawn.  Just 760 of these were manufactured between 1949 and 1955.  Fortunately the owner arrived as I was admiring the car and he allowed me to have a peak inside which was covered in red leather.

Useful web sites -