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.
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
History of Stokesay Castle
Read a full history of Stokesay Castle, built in the 1280s by Laurence of Ludlow and one of the first fortified manor houses in England.
Laurence of Ludlow and Medieval Wool Wealth
Find out how the extraordinary growth of the wool trade not only paid for the building of Stokesay Castle but also bought its owner power and status.
Faithful subject or rebel? A 14th-century knight and a protest poem
In 1342 Sir Laurence Ludlow of Stokesay Castle was arrested for failing to collect taxes. Was he connected with a protest poem composed at the time?
Explore 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.
Download a plan of the castle
Download a plan of Stokesay Castle as a PDF to see how it has developed over time.
Buy the guidebook to Stokesay Castle
Packed with plans, reconstruction drawings and historic photos, this guidebook gives a vivid account of the castle’s history and its occupants.
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.
Research on Stokesay Castle
Find out how research has informed our understanding of the castle, and what remains to be discovered.
Sources for Stokesay Castle
Use this list of written and visual sources, published and unpublished, to learn more about Stokesay Castle and its history.
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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