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Historic England Research Records

Stokesay Castle

Hob Uid: 109049
Location :
Shropshire
Craven Arms
Grid Ref : SO4357281688
Summary : The site of Stokesay Castle, a fortified manor house, surrounded by a moat and enclosing a courtyard. The standing remains almost entirely date to the 1280s and 1290s, and were built by Laurence of Ludlow, a wool merchant who became one of the richest men in England. Its military appearance was mainly for show as it could not have withstood a serious siege, although it did protect Laurence's wealth and display his status. At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 the land ('Stoches') was held by the Lacys, one of the great families of the Welsh marches. It was subsequently divided into North and South Stoke, the latter coming into the ownership of the Says, hence the later name Stokesay. It then passed to John de Verdon, a supporter of Henry III. Tree-ring dating of the Solar Block suggests it was built during this period in 1261-3, and the timber framed great hall was also probably built in circa 1260-80. After the barons' war Verdon went on crusade leaving Stokesay in the hands of a tenant who sold it to Laurence of Ludlow in 1281. 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, and tree-ring dating of the gatehouse timbers confirmed construction 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 18th century 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 guardianship in 1986.
More information : (SO 43578169) Castle (NR). (1)

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 built towards the end of the 16th century. 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 yet earlier, and may have been a Marcher form of pele-tower, built in the late 12th or early 13th century.
In general the castle is in an excellent state of preservation. (2)

The outer wall was destroyed in the Civil War (3).

Grade I Listed. (4)

Stokesay Castle, in excellent condition and as described above. Open to the public. The enclosing moat is now dry.
Published 1:2500 survey correct. (5)

SO 435 816 and SO 433 816. Stokesay Castle. Scheduled. (6)

Additional reference. (7)

Listed by Cathcart King. (8)

The moat enclosing the fortified manor house is visible as an earthwork on aerial photographs and has been mapped by RCHME's Marches Uplands Mapping Project. Fish ponds and water channels to the south of the castle, possibly representing a designed landscape contemporary with the castle's construction, are recorded separately (SO 48 SW 77). (9-11)

A condition audit by English Heritage of wall paintings at Stokesay Castle includes a wall painting record, general audit information, documentation of original materials and execution of the painting, and deterioration and damage including previously used materials and treatment, as well as proposals for treatment and monitoring strategies. (12-13)

A major programme of repairs was carried out by English Heritage in 1986- 1989. An extensive programme of repair, conservation and future maintenance was undertaken. Following a brief description and historical appraisal of the building, and a description of the condition of the monument prior to the repairs, the repairs programme is discussed. The work was undertaken in phases taking in the Gatehouse followed by the castle buildings including the Great Hall and the north and south towers. Includes short notes on the 'Conservation of the early fourteenth century decoration' by Caroline Babington (p20-3) describing the restoration of the early secular wall-paintings, and 'Survey observations and record' by Gill Chitty (p23-4) summarising new evidence on the constructional detail of the buildings gathered during the recording work which took place together with the repairs. (14)

A publication which discusses historical and pictorial evidence, and the problems they expose; related timber structures like Leicester Castle, Tamworth, and Stokesay, and archaeological evidence from sites like Stafford, Goltho and Hen Domen. (15)

A watching brief was carried out in 1993 in conjunction with the installation of electricity cables to the gatehouse and toilet block at Stokesay Castle. 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 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 18th century slipware was removed from this level but there were no other finds. A further single trench was excavated from the toilet block to the north east of the gatehouse to the telegraph pole near the northern boundary wall. In the southern half of the trench were the remains of a stone built structure which may be the remains of a post medieval stone built building similar to the toilet block with which it runs parallel. (16)

Reports on further investigations at Stokesay Castle. (17-20)

A new guidebook was published in 2009. The site of Stokesay Castle, situated in the valley of the River Onny. The castle is in fact a fortified manor house, surrounded by a moat and enclosing a courtyard which was walled in when a licence to crenellate was granted in 1291. The standing remains almost entirely date to the 1280s and 1290s, and were built by Laurence of Ludlow, a wool merchant who became one of the richest men in England. Its military appearance was mainly for show as it could not have withstood a serious siege, although it did protect Laurence's wealth and displayed his status.
Nothing is known of Stokesay prior to the Domesday Book of 1086 when it formed part of an estate called 'Stoches' - an Anglo-Saxon word suggesting a cattle farm, and was held by the Lacys, one of the great families of the Welsh marches. It was subsequently divided into two manors, North and South Stoke, the latter coming into the ownership of the Says, hence the later name Stokesay. It then passed to John de Verdon, a supporter of Henry III. Tree-ring dating of the Solar Block suggests it was built during this period in 1261-3, and the timber framed great hall was also probably built in circa 1260-80. After the barons' wars of 1264-7, Verdon went on crusade leaving Stokesay in the hands of a tenant who sold his rights to the manor to Laurence of Ludlow in 1281. Laurence's descendants remained in ownership of Stokesay for more than 200 years until it passed into the hands of the Vernon family. Henry Vernon made repairs to the top floor of the north tower in about 1577, but later fell into financial ruin and sold Stokesay 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, and tree-ring dating of the gatehouse timbers confirmed construction 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 18th century 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 Allcrofts owned the property until 1986 when the burden of upkeep became too great and the castle passed into guardianship. In the 1990s English Heritage carried out a programme of restoration. (21)

A dendrochronological survey of Stokesay Castle was carried out on behalf of English Heritage. 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 NorthTower 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. Two ex situ shutters were discovered (one clearly from the Hall windows) giving termini post quems suggesting they are primary. 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 RA. 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. 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 proved the timber to have been felled after 1541. Photographs taken by the Ancient Monuments Laboratory of the faces of doors and underside of floorboards from the Solar and North Tower Undercrofts have enabled the dating of these features which would have otherwise been impossible to sample non-destructively. (22)



Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1963
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : J T Smith
Page(s) : 211-214
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 113, 1956
Source Number : 11
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SO 4381/14 06-MAY-1992
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Our painted past : wall paintings of English Heritage
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 13
Source : Ancient Monuments Laboratory reports
Source details : 'Wall painting condition audit, Stokesay Castle, Shropshire', by Davies, J and Manning, T
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 26/1997
Source Number : 14
Source : Association for Studies in Conservation of Historic Buildings transactions
Source details : 'Stokesay Castle, Shropshire: the repair of a major monument' article by Tolley, Robert J (1991)
Page(s) : Mar-24
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 15
Source Number : 15
Source : Timber castles: a reassessment
Source details : Fortress : the castles and fortifications quarterly
Page(s) : 50-60
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 16
Source : Stokesay Castle - an interim report on a watching brief and minor excavation
Source details : City of Hereford Archaeology Unit
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 17
Source : Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit [archaeological evaluation reports]
Source details : 'A short report on two pieces of archaeological recording at Stokesay Castle, Shropshire, for English Heritage', by S Litherland in 1998
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 18
Source : Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit [archaeological evaluation reports]
Source details : 'An Archaeological Watching Brief at Stokesay Castle, Shropshire (Report No. 692)', by J Halsted in 2000
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Source Number : 19
Source : Stokesay Castle, Shropshire: Excavation of a Trench for a Telephone Cable. Interim Report on a Watching Brief
Source details : City of Hereford Archaeology Unit
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Source Number : 20
Source : Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit [archaeological evaluation reports]
Source details : 'Medieval Tile Project Phase 2: Stokesay Castle, Shropshire. (BUFAU Report No. 046.10)', by Bevan L, Newton E, S Watt in 1997
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Castles
Source details :
Page(s) : 143-4
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Source Number : 21
Source : Stokesay Castle (English Heritage Guidebooks)
Source details :
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Source Number : 22
Source : Vernacular architecture
Source details : 'List 81: HBMCE (English Heritage) Tree-ring dates from D. H. Miles and M. J. Worthington'
Page(s) : 160-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 28, 1997
Source Number : 4
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Ludlow Rural District, SEP-1950
Page(s) : 52
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1943
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 15-JAN-73
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Source Number : 6
Source : County list of Scheduled Monuments : March 1994
Source details : Shropshire
Page(s) : 24
Figs. :
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Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : South Shropshire, 21-JUN-1996
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 1943-1
Source Number : 8
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 430-1
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 9
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/72424 374 12-OCT-1972
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Source Number : 10
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SO 4381/4-5 04-MAR-1988
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : c1260-80
Monument End Date : 1280
Monument Start Date : 1260
Monument Type : Manor House, Jettied House, Moat
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Late C12-early C13
Monument End Date : 1332
Monument Start Date : 1267
Monument Type : Pele Tower
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Licence to crenellate 1291
Monument End Date : 1291
Monument Start Date : 1291
Monument Type : Fortified Manor House, Moat, Courtyard, Wall, Jettied Building
Evidence : Extant Building, Earthwork, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : paintings date from 2nd quarter of 14thC
Monument End Date : 1349
Monument Start Date : 1325
Monument Type : Wall Painting
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Gatehouse built
Monument End Date : 1641
Monument Start Date : 1639
Monument Type : Gatehouse, Timber Framed Building
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Damaged after the Civil War
Monument End Date : 1649
Monument Start Date : 1642
Monument Type : Fortified Manor House, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Restored 1853
Monument End Date : 1853
Monument Start Date : 1853
Monument Type : Fortified Manor House, Gatehouse, Timber Framed Building
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Restored 1870s
Monument End Date : 1879
Monument Start Date : 1870
Monument Type : Manor House, Timber Framed Building, Gatehouse
Evidence : Extant Building, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SA 8
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 95423
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 460272
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 355
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Shropshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 159
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : MORPH2
External Cross Reference Number : MU.414.7
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 110302
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : K971634
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 48 SW 8
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1399941
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1528144
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 48 SW 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-01-15
End Date : 1973-01-15
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1984-01-01
End Date : 1984-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: MARCHES UPLANDS NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : MANAGEMENT SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT STOKESAY CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, STOKESAY CASTLE: GATEHOUSE CHIMNEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31