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HER Number (PRN):00159
Name:Stokesay Castle
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Listed Building (I) 1269939: STOKESAY CASTLE AND GATEHOUSE INCLUDING MOAT RETAINING WALLS
Scheduled Monument 1003011: Stokesay Castle

Monument Types

Summary

Scheduled Monument and Grade I Listed Building: One of the finest fortified medieval manor houses in the country, built in the late 13th century from the profits of the wool trade, and originally surrounded by a moat (now dry).

Parish:Craven Arms, South Shropshire, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SO48SW
Grid Reference:SO 4357 8168

Related records

14855Parent of: Gatehouse at Stokesay Castle, Stokesay (Building)
08250Parent of: Water management features at Stokesay Castle (Monument)
03539Related to: Find Spot before 1881 of an unknown medieval stone object at Stokesay Castle. (Find Spot)

Associated Finds

  • FSA2090 - FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1540 AD)

Associated Events

  • ESA4409 - [Undated] Site Visit
  • ESA4410 - 1973 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA4411 - 1975 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA4412 - 1983 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA4413 - 1981 field observation by SCC SMR
  • ESA4414 - 1993 Excavation and WB at the gatehouse of Stokesay Castle by CHAU
  • ESA4415 - 1993 WB on telephone cabling at Stokesay Castle by CHAU
  • ESA6445 - 2010 WB on emergency reinforcement works pond embankment at Stokesay Castle by SCAS
  • ESA6671 - 2012 WB at Stokesay Castle by Castlering Archaeology
  • ESA6728 - 1995 Building recording of wall paintings at Stokesay Castle by English Heritage Research Department
  • ESA7429 - 2004 building survey and watching brief, The Gatehouse Chimney, Stokesay Castle by Archaeological Investigations Ltd
  • ESA7430 - 2004 further building survey, The Gatehouse Chimney, Stokesay Castle by Archaeological Investigations Ltd
  • ESA7510 - 1991 initial survey of medieval floor tiles on English Heritage guardianship sites in the Midlands by Warwickshire Museum

Description

Stokesay Castle is a fortified manor house surrounded by a moat enclosing a courtyard which was walled in 1291 and entered on the east by a timber framed gatehouse (PRN 14855) built towards the end of the C16th. On the west is the main block comprising the hall and solar wing with a tower at each end. The south tower is presumably associated with the licence to crenellate granted to Lawrence de Ludlow in 1291, and is clearly later than the hall, ascribed with the solar wing to circa 1260-80. The north tower is earlier, and may have been a marcher form of pele tower, built in the late C12 or early C13 <1a>
The outer wall was destroyed in the Civil War <1b>

Moated site, polygonal in shape. The now dry moat is c8m wide and up to 2m deep. It was originally fed by water from the nearby pool and stream. An original surrounding curtain wall survives on all sides; this originally reached a height of c10m above the bottom of the moat, but has since been reduced, a small section survives to its original height at the south east corner of the S. Tower. The moat island is raised above the surrounding ground level. The island contains the finest set of surviving medieval structures of any moated site in Shropshire…M Watson FI 1981 <10>

A major programme of repairs was carried out by English Heritage between August 1986 and December 1989 <26>

Watching brief carried out in 1993 by CHAU in conjunction with the installation of electricity cables to the gatehouse and toilet block at Stokesay Castle. The watching brief in the gatehouse was essential due to the removal of a quarry tile floor and approximately 40mm of underlying material. This took place in the single storey extension to the south of the gatehouse. The quarry tiles were recorded photographically during their removal. Directly under the quarry tiles was a thick ash layer which in the north west corner, lay above the partial remains of an earlier flagstone floor. The flagstones were photographed as it was considered that the required level could be reached without the removal of this feature. A single fragment of 18 th century slipware was removed from this level but there were no other finds. The further excavation of the inside of a cupboard in the north eastern corner of the room revealed no archaeologically significant features were encountered by the excavation, partially due to the works involved with the initial electrification of the castle. The finds from this excavation included a single pierced stone roof tile, a number of wall plaster fragments and 8 sherds of Victorian and later pottery. ->

The watching brief undertaken a month later was due to the laying of an electric cable for the toilet block. A single trench was excavated 13.7 m in length and 0.2 m wide on a north east to south west alignment. The trench ran from the toilet block approximately 30 m to the north east of the gatehouse to the telegraph pole near the northern boundary wall. The depth was 0.6 m along its entire length. The trench was excavated by hand. In the southern half of the trench remains of a stone built structure which consisted of roughly cut limestone approximately 0.8 m wide and 3 m apart. The floor consisted of cobbles to the south, gradually merging into a rough surface largely comprising of stone roof tile fragments. At this level it was decided that the excavation stop and an alternative route be found for the cable. Due to the small scale of the excavation, it is difficult to date or suggest a use for this structure, it would be logical however to assume it to be the remains of a post medieval stone built building similar to the toilet block with which it runs parallel. <27>

Watching brief carried out in 1993 by CHAU in conjunction with the installation of a telephone cable to the gatehouse and toilet block at Stokesay Castle. The trench for the cable was approximately 0.3 m wide and 0.3 m deep. It ran from the paddock to the west of the moat, eastwards to the north west angle of the moat where the cable dropped down through part of the revetment wall along the north flank of the northern arm. It then continued along the northern arm of the moat, around the north east angle and south through the east arm of the moat to the base of the gatehouse. No significant archaeological levels were encountered. The trench was excavated almost entirely through clean garden soil although a few unstratified finds ranging in date from small fragments of medieval encaustic floor tiles to 19th century pottery were found. <28>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, High score as one of 133 Moated sites <32>

The moat was mapped ("from small-scale excavation") by the Marches Uplands Mapping Project in 1994 when it was interpreted as an erthwork feature (414/7/1) comprising a complete, rectangular enclosure, 50m x 45m, defined by 1 ditch with 4 sides visible. <39> <40>

Manor house. C 1391-1400; gatehouse added C17. Great Hall: sandstone rubble and timber-frame; stone tile roof; spurred brick ridge stack and paired ashlar ridge stack.. . . . . . .
PLAN: courtyard plan with gatehouse and bridge to east, enclosed by moat with rubble perimeter walls.
EXTERIOR: Great Hall: with entrance and 3 mullion and transom 2-light windows under advanced gables; solar cross-wings with hipped roofs; jettied first floor with lattice-glazed mullion windows to north. Tower to south: polygonal; battlemented and embrasured parapet. . . . .
INTERIOR: in house C17 panelling with carved overmantel; stop-moulded ceiling beams; fireplaces; squints; staircase. <38>

In January 2010 a mobile crane in transit to a sewage treatment plant on the south side of the Stokesay village, left the road through the village and overturned down an embankment retaining one of Stokesay castle ponds. The weight of the crane threatened to undermine the retaining embankment and accordingly emergency reinforcement works were made to the bank under archaeological supervision through a watching brief. The emergency repair works entailed the erection of stone-filled steel mesh gabions on the east side of the dam, between the dam and the overturned mobile crane. The base of the gabions were to be set in a trench c. 2.15m wide by 19m long. The north end of the trench would cut into the toe of the dam by up to 1 m depth, the south end by about 0.25m. At the bottom of the trench, the excavations revealed a smooth dark grey silt. Along the western edge of the trench this was overlain by a deposit of dark brown silty loam mottled with buff clay which may have represented eroded material from the' dam core. This in turn lay beneath a deposit of dark greyish brown loam with stones up to 0.4m thick. Above this was a soil layer, again of dark greyish brown humic loam up to 0.6m thick, and a similar topsoil 0.3m thick with stones and tree roots. No other significant features or deposits were seen.<41>

Watching brief identified the alignment of the east-west wall of a former stone building of unknown date, to the north of the existing refurbished stone buildings of Stokecastle Farm within the Scheduled area. No other archaeological features were exposed and the few finds recovered from the backfill were of late-20th century date. <43>

Condition audit of wall paintings at Stokesay Castle. <44>

In May 2014 English Heritage produced a Consultation Report on Stokesay Castle as part of a project to produce descriptions for some of the sites included on the 1913 Schedule of Ancient Monuments. <45>

On the 2nd of September 2014 a History and Description plus the Reasons for Designation were added to the National Heritage List for England Entry for Stokesay Castle (1003011).
Stokesay Castle is one of the finest fortified manor houses in the country, built in the 1260s-80s and early 1290s by Laurence of Ludlow . . . The earliest buildings on the site are within the main block to the west, which includes the hall and solar, with north and south towers to either end of the range. The north tower may have originated as a marcher form of pele tower, dating from the late C12 or early C13. The hall and solar are ascribed a date circa 1260-80, and the south tower is a little later, presumably constructed as a result of Laurence’s receipt of a licence to crenellate, granted in 1291. Tree-ring dating confirms that Laurence had completed virtually the whole of the house by 1291 using the same team of carpenters throughout, and it has been altered very little since.
Laurence's descendants remained in ownership of Stokesay for more than 200 years until it passed to the Vernon family. Henry Vernon made repairs in about 1577, but later fell into financial ruin and sold to Sir George Mainwaring in 1598. Dame Elizabeth Craven and her son William then bought it in 1620, along with several other properties in Shropshire, and it became a valuable estate. William made several alterations; his accounts record that he spent more than £468 in 1640 'about the building at Stokesay', and further money 'for finishing the work' in 1641. Tree-ring dating of the gatehouse timbers has confirmed it was constructed for William, in 1639-41. The castle surrendered to Parliamentary forces in 1645 without incident, although two years later the barns and stables were demolished. During the C18 the buildings were allowed to decay until Frances Stackhouse Acton, a noted antiquarian and artist, co-ordinated a series of repairs; and in the 1870s the glovemaker John Derby Allcroft bought Stokesay and had it substantially restored.
The castle passed into the guardianship of English Heritage in 1986.
The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes the fortified manor house, earthwork and buried remains of Stokesay Castle and part of its associated gardens. . .
A roughly oval-shaped moat (now dry), with the remains of a perimeter wall which originally rose up to 10m above the bottom of the moat, encloses an area measuring approximately 50m NNE to SSW and 40m WNW to ESE, covering an area of approximately 0.17 hectares. The moat is circa 8m wide and up to 2m deep. The moated island is raised above the surrounding ground level. At its NE corner stands a C17 timber-framed and elaborately decorated gatehouse.[PRN 14855]. . . .At its western side stands an older range of buildings dating to the C13, built of sandstone rubble and timber-frame, with a stone tile roof. It includes a four-bay, open-hearthed great hall with an extraordinary roof which is a hybrid mixture of raised crucks, aisled end trusses and an unusual example of collar-purlins without crown posts. At its north end is a late-C13 timber stair which gives access to the upper floors of the north tower, with a jettied timber first floor of the C17. At the south end of the hall range is a cross wing housing the solar block, with the first-floor solar reached by an external stair; both ground and first floors have C17 interiors. To the south stands a stone tower, polygonal in plan, of three storeys, with crenellations. The kitchen, service range and other ancillary buildings would have filled the courtyard; these survive as buried features. . . . All modern tracks, modern buildings and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these is included. <46>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey in 2009 and 2010. <47><48><49>

Photographed from the air by Chris Musson in 1996. <50>

A large scale programme of dendrochronological survey was carried out of a variety of timbers from Stokesay, which recorded a suite of dates from the 13th to the 17th centuries. Dates were obtained from both phases of the castle, the south tower, north tower, gatehouse, solar panelling, solar undercroft and a number of miscellaneous timbers. Refer to source for full date list. ->

-> Stokesay Castle on the Welsh Border is one of England’s finest examples of a medieval fortified manor house. The earliest phase identified dates from 1262/3 and includes the lower part of South Passage Block, as well as a re-set door and frame in the Solar Undercroft. It had been suggested that the lower storey of the North Tower was earlier, but none of the timber comprising the North Tower undercroft ceiling was suitable for dating. However, floor boards immediately above this ceiling were found to be coeval with the upper floors of the North Tower, Solar Undercroft and roof, and the Great Hall roof, with latest felling dates of 1290. The Hall roof is a remarkable construction consisting of a hybrid mixture of raised crucks, aisled end trusses, and an unusual example of collar-purlin without crown posts. The floors in the North Tower and Solar are supported on substantial beams on massive brackets. The original roof of individual rafter couples with soulaces and ashlars, hipped with gablets at each end, survives over the Solar, but has been replaced in outline on the North Tower. The archaeological evidence, as postulated by R. A. Cordingley, supports the Hall, Solar and North Tower as being of one phase, and this has been confirmed by the dendrochronology. Subsequent alterations identified in the North Tower included a northward extension to the jettied top storey shortly after 1578, and the Solar Undercroft floor being replaced in or shortly after 1662/3. ->

-> The Gatehouse is an elaborately carved and jettied structure, and was found to date from 1640/41, just as the Civil War was beginning. A door jamb in the attic dated to 1652, indicating an alteration to the staircase to the top floor. Fragments of panelling originating from the Gatehouse as well as the Solar were found to have been felled after 1639 and may be part of the 1640’s phase. No original timberwork survives in the South Tower, but a replacement first floor ceiling with moulded beams was found to date from 1640/41, obviously part of the same building campaign as the Gatehouse. Fragments of the external door to the South Tower was found to have been felled after 1541. ->

-> Photographs taken by John Bailey of the Ancient Monuments Laboratory of the faces of doors and underside of floorboards from the Solar and North Tower undercrofts has enabled the dating of these features which would have otherwise been impossible to sample non-destructively. The dating was arranged by Tony Fleming and Dr Glyn Coppack of Historic Properties Midlands. <51><51a>

In 2004, a programme of photographic and building survey was carried out of the south gable chimney of the Gatehouse at Stokesay Castle in tandem with urgent repairs being carried out to the chimney (see PRN 14855). <52>

Further to <52>, in late 2004, further recording was undertaken during the dismantling of a lower section of the south gable chimneystack of the Gatehouse at Stokesay Castle, with photographic recording undertaken of the fireplace within the building (see PRN 14855). <53>

The tiles from Stokesay were included in an initial survey of medieval floor tiles on English Heritage Guardianship sites in the Midlands. This included an assessment of the single pavement of 1502 tiles on site, in the so-called Priest's Room on the 1st floor of the N tower. <54>

The hall is unaisled and built from raised crucks of whole-tree form dendro-dated to 1284-5. It may be argued that the N tower does not qualify as a jetty because it comes off a stone wall and its purpose was to allow a fighting platform to be formed. Nevertheless, the basic technique is valid and, as shown on the drawing , the construction bears a distinct similarity to that illustrated by Viollet-le-Duc. A double girding-beam is employed and the common joists are set at right-angles to each other, the change in the plane coming at the midway point. Every second joist is supported by a bracket, a practice not followed in later jettying. Wall decoration in well room in N tower described. Sections of N tower.<55>

Wall painting in first-floor solar probably 1550-1575? Floral/scroll decoration - Tudor rose motif in window reveal, now covered over.->

->Wall painting in buttery possibly pre-1500. Floral/scroll decoration. Simple crude scrolling leaf pattern all over. Colour illustration.->

->Wall-painting in garderobe possibly pre-1500. Floral/scroll decoration- black stars with leaf pattern. Colour illustration.->

->Wall-painting in open hall of unknown date. Fragments only remain above doorway in N wall. It probably extended all over, but insufficient survives to discern design.<57>

Sources

[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 00159.
[01a]SSA797 - Article in serial: Smith J T. 1956. Stokesay Castle. Archaeol J. Vol 113. p211-214.
[01b]SSA802 - Monograph: Oman. 1926. Castles. p143-144 inc photo.
[01]SSA806 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1973. Ordnance Survey Record Card SO48SW8. Ordnance Survey record cards. SO48SW8.
[02]SSA16182 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1988-Mar-04. CPAT 88/03/0012 to 0014 (3 photos).
[03b]SSA793 - Article in serial: Cordingley (Prof). 1963. Article in Art Bulletin USA. Art Bulletin USA.
[03c]SSA795 - Monograph: Mason J F A. 1982. Stokesay Castle.
[03a]SSA804 - Volume: Wood M E. 1950. Thirteenth Century Domestic Architecture in Britain. Archaeological Journal. Vol 105 (Supplement).
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[04]SSA801 - Article in serial: de la Touche J G. 1878. Article in the Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 1, Vol I (=Vol 1). p311-322.
[05]SSA805 - List of Buildings: Department of the Environment (DoE). 1974-Mar-15. 2nd List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Vol 825-0. List volume. p240, 14/13.
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[07]SSA799 - TEXT: Vernacular Architecture Group. 1983. Notes prepared for VAG visit.
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[09]SSA803 - Monograph: Parkinson & Ould. 1904. Old Cottages and Farmhouses.
[10]SSA816 - Site visit report: Watson Michael D. 1981-May-16. Visit Notes, 16/05/1981.
[11]SSA16183 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1988-Mar-04. CPAT 88/MB/0021. Black and White. Medium.
[12]SSA792 - Leaflet: Anon. A Short Guide and Plan.
[13]SSA813 - Photograph: Anon. 1982. Slide.
[14]SSA812 - Photograph: Anon. 1981. Slides. Colour.
[15]SSA814 - Photograph: Anon. 1985. Slide. Colour.
[16]SSA16184 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1986-Jul-29. CPAT 86/MB/1019. Black and White. Medium.
[17]SSA16185 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1988-Mar-04. CPAT 88/C/0002. Colour. 35mm.
[18]SSA16186 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-06. CPAT 92/MB/0524 to 0526 (3 photos). Black and White. Medium.
[19]SSA16187 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-06. CPAT 92/C/0857 to 0858 (2 photos). Colour. 35mm.
[20]SSA16188 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-06. CPAT 92/MC12/0010 and 0012 and 0013 and 0015 to 0016 (5 photos). Colour. Medium.
[21]SSA811 - Scheduled Monument notification: Department of the Environment (DoE). 1977. Map of Scheduled area, 1977.
[22]SSA810 - Scheduled Monument notification: Ministry of Works. 1961. Map of Scheduled area, 1961.
[23]SSA807 - Photograph: Anon. Photo. Colour.
[24]SSA809 - Photograph: Watson Michael D. 1985-May. Stokesay Castle. Black and white. 35mm.
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[27]SSA794 - Watching brief report: Hoverd T. 1993. Stokesay Castle - an interim report on a watching brief and minor excavation. Hereford Archaeology Series. 167.
[28]SSA796 - Watching brief report: Morriss Richard K & Hoverd T. 1993. Stokesay Castle, Shropshire - Excavation of a trench for a telephone cable: interim report on a watching brief. Hereford Archaeology Series. 190.
[29]SSA16189 - Oblique aerial photograph: Barret Gill. 1991. Barret Gill, Barret Gill, Oblique View, 1991: 91/01/B/26-27 (Colour slide): 91/01/B/30-38 (Colour slide). Colour.
[30]SSA16190 - Oblique aerial photograph: Barret Gill. 1991. Barret Gill, Barret Gill, Oblique View, 1991: 91/02/H/02-10 (Colour slide): 91/02/H/12-13 (Colour slide). Colour.
[31.1]SSA19203 - Oblique aerial photograph: Barret Gill. 1993. Barret Gill, Barret Gill, Oblique View, 1993: 93/P/18-20 (Colour slide): 93/P/23-24 (Colour slide). Colour.
[31.2]SSA16191 - Oblique aerial photograph: Barret Gill. 1993. Barret Gill, Oblique View, 1993: 93/P/21 (Colour slide). Colour.
[31.3]SSA19949 - Oblique aerial photograph: Barret Gill. 1993. Barret Gill, Oblique View, 1993: 93/P/22 (Colour slide). Colour.
[32]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[33]SSA21563 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1996-Jul-24. CPAT 96/MB/0343. Black and White. Medium.
[34]SSA21715 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 2002-Jul-21. CPAT 02/MB/2015. Black and White. Medium.
[35]SSA21742 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 2003-Jul-27. CPAT 03/MB/0044. Black and White. Medium.
[36]SSA21743 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 2003-Jul-27. CPAT 03/MB/0045. Black and White. Medium.
[37]SSA21794 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 2003-Jul-27. CPAT 03/CP/0524 to 0525 (2 photos).
[38]SSA11253 - List of Buildings: Department of National Heritage (DNH). 1996-Jun-21. 15th List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Vol 1943-1. List volume. p 10.
[39]SSA20279 - Aerial photograph transcription: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). 1993/ 1994. Marches Uplands Mapping Project Overlays. 1:10000. SO48SW.
[40]SSA22521 - Database file: National Monuments Record (NMR). 1993/ 1994. Marches Uplands Mapping Project (MUMP) MORPH records (2006 version). Marches Uplands Survey. MU.414.7 Unit 1.
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[45]SSA24756 - Advisory designation documentation: English Heritage (Designation). 2014-May. Consultation Report - Stokesay Castle- Case No 1411854.
[46]SSA27122 - Official designation documentation: English Heritage (Designation). 2014-08-29. Case Number: 1411854, Stokesay Castle - Advice Report.
[47]SSA26163 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Jun-17. SA1006_075 to SA1006_076 (2 photos) Flight: 10_SA_06. Colour. Digital.
[48]SSA26096 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2009-Mar-20. SA0906_85 to SA0906_105 (21 photos) Flight: 09_SA_06. Colour. Digital.
[49]SSA26642 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2010-Mar-7. SA1004_220 to SA1004_224 (5 photos) Flight: 10_SA_04. Colour. Digital.
[50]SSA27563 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1996-Jul-24. CPAT 96/C/1379. Colour. Medium.
[51]SSA27695 - Online database: Worthington M. 2011. Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory List of Dated Buildings (Shropshire).
[51a]SSA29391 - Online database: Miles D W H and Bridge M. 2017. Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory (Shropshire). pp.66-69.
[52]SSA27777 - Watching brief report: Rouse D. 2004. The Gatehouse Chimney, Stokesay Castle, Shropshire: archaeological building survey and watching brief. Hereford Archaeology Series. 634.
[53]SSA27778 - Field survey report: Rouse D and Mayes S. 2005. The Gatehouse Chimney, Stokesay Castle, Shropshire: archaeological recording (stage 2). Hereford Archaeology Series. 673.
[54]SSA28063 - Artefact specialist report: Lisk S. 1991. Medieval Floor Tiles on English Heritage Guardianship Sites in the Midlands. Warwickshire Museum Rep.
[55]SSA22146 - Monograph: Moran Madge. 2003. Vernacular Buildings of Shropshire. pp. 21, 100, 101, 338.
[56]SSA2150 - Monograph: Alcock N W. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. CBA Research Reports. 42. pg144.
[57]SSA29284 - Monograph: Davies Kathryn. 2008. Artisan art: vernacular wall paintings in the Welsh Marches, 1550-1650. pp.173, 174.
Date Last Edited:Oct 24 2017 12:13PM