Stokesay Castle, Shropshire

History and Stories: Stokesay Castle

Standing in a peaceful Shropshire valley near the Welsh border, Stokesay Castle has survived remarkably intact since a leading wool merchant, Laurence of Ludlow, built it in the late 13th century. His fine fortified manor house was both comfortable and impressive, designed as a statement of his wealth and power. 

Today, barely touched by the passage of years, the castle offers a unique insight into life in medieval England. Delve into its history here.

The north tower at Stokesay Castle

Key facts about Stokesay Castle

  • Stokesay Castle is one of the finest fortified manor houses in England. Its military appearance is superficial – it couldn’t have withstood a serious siege.
  • Almost everything visible at Stokesay today was built in the 1280s and 1290s by Laurence of Ludlow, a local merchant who had made his fortune in the wool trade.
  • The only substantial later addition is the picturesque gatehouse, built in 1640–41.
  • Among Stokesay’s many treasures are its medieval staircase and tiled floor, and a richly carved 17th-century chamber.
  • In the 19th century the castle was sympathetically repaired and preserved thanks to the enlightened efforts of early conservationists. 

Stokesay Castle’s history

Explore Stokesay Castle

  • The north end of the hall at Stokesay Castle

    Description of Stokesay Castle

    Read a description of the castle – one of the first fortified manor houses in England, which bears witness to the taste, wealth and importance of its owner.

  • Plan of Stokesay Castle

    Plan of Stokesay Castle

    Download this PDF plan of Stokesay Castle to find out how it has developed over time.

  • Stokesay Castle guidebook cover

    Buy the guidebook

    Packed with plans, reconstruction drawings and historic photos, this guidebook gives a vivid account of the castle’s history and its occupants.

More resources

  • The south tower and gatehouse at Stokesay Castle

    Significance of Stokesay Castle

    Discover the importance of Stokesay Castle, which lies not just in the buildings themselves but in their survival with so little alteration.

  • Engraving of Stokesay Castle by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, 1731

    Research on Stokesay Castle

    Find out how research has informed our understanding of the castle, and what remains to be discovered.

  • An engraving of Stokesay Castle, published in John Britton's 'Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain' (1813)
© Shropshire Archives (PR/2/487)

    Sources for Stokesay Castle

    Use this list of written and visual sources, published and unpublished, to learn more about Stokesay Castle and its history.

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    English medieval castles

    Once symbols of power and prestige, England’s medieval castles are now monuments to centuries of history. Discover the stories held within their walls.

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