Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Sunny Sunday at Moreton Corbet

Hello, thank you SO much for your comments on my last post, I love to read your comments and the Best Beloved thanks you too; he is delighted that you liked his birdie photos.  

Spring is almost here: daffodils are nodding their heads and the crocuses are opening their faces up to bask in the periodic sunshine.  It's light when the Best Beloved leaves for work just before 7am and I watched a glorious sunset while I waited for him to pick me up yesterday at 6.30pm, waves of pink sweeping across the dark blue sky as the sun sank in a bank of amber and gold.  However, if you've been reading here for a while you will know that I am an astronomical kind of gal and in my book, it's not spring until the solstice next week, so although spring is almost here, winter is not quite done with us yet.

On Sunday, however, it did feel like spring as the sun shone and the birds sang, the Best Beloved even saw a butterfly (which is really annoying because he can't tell you any of their names) so when he suggested we go "out somewhere", he knew that he was pushing at an open door.  We really should have stayed at home and worked on the garden, neglected all winter, that would have been the sensible, grown-up thing to do, but I felt a blog post calling, so off out we went to place I have been wanting to share with you: Moreton Corbet Castle.

I love to visit old places.  Do you?  I like to tread the paths which others have trod hundreds of years before me, to place my hand on the stones they dressed and laid, to look at views which they would have looked like and feel their stories travelling through the centuries, to feel the connexions between their lives and mine.  Moreton Corbet is such a place.  In the 12th century the land was owned by the Toret family and in about the year 1200 they replaced the earth and timber structure which was there with a great sandstone keep, surrounding it with a curtain wall with an imposing gatehouse - remember that these were still violent times and an Englishman had to protect his castle.  When Bartholomew Toret died in 1239 without a male heir, the land and its castle passed to his daughter, Joan, except, of course, that married women were not allowed to legally own ANYTHING in this country until 1870, so in fact the land passed to her husband, Richard de Corbet, and so Moreton Toret became Moreton Corbet.  Seven hundred and seventy-seven years later, the Castle still belongs to the Corbet family, who live locally.  Shropshire's a bit like that.

Let's move forward in time 330 years or so, to the 1560s.  By this time, Queen Elizabeth I was ruling England and Sir Andrew Corbet had inherited the castle.  He decided to do some remodelling, building a range of domestic buildings inside the curtain wall and developing the castle into a comfortable manor house.  

When Sir Andrew died in 1578, his son, Robert, inherited the castle and continued his father's work. Robert, however, didn't really want to live in a Medieval castle, despite its makeover; he had travelled extensively in Europe and represented the government as an ambassador to The Netherlands.  His tastes were more sophisticated, he spoke fluent Italian and he was obviously enamoured of the new Italian style of architecture, so he set about the construction of a new range of buildings immediately south of the old castle, brick-built and faced with stone, elaborately carved and decorated.  Sitting in the middle of the fields of rural Shropshire it was absolutely extraordinary, and its remains still take your breath away.

Robert died of the plague in London in 1583, before his new home was finished and although his brothers Richard and then Vincent took over, the work was never fully completed.  During the Civil War in the 1640s the castle was damaged, eventually being taken by the Parliamentarians, and although it was restored to the Corbet family afterwards and repaired, it was abandoned in the early 18th century and mother nature has taken hold, dismantling the walls and wearing away the stones.  It is a lovely place to spend an hour or so, a quiet and peaceful place surrounded by fields and sheep, accompanied by the occasional butterfly or pheasant, a place where you can feel the hundreds of years of history which have drawn you there.  It's free to visit and open during daylight hours, just park your car in the layby and open the gate...

There is a little church there too, built around the time that Bartholomew Toret built his great stone keep, a fascinating church with much to see, but I shall save that for next time.  

See you very soon.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x


  1. I'm like you, I love to imagine what their lives would have been like. What a beautiful setting it has.

  2. Mrs. Tiggywinkle, this was a fascinating read into the history of this gorgeous castle ruins. I think it's so interesting that you can see all the brickwork behind the exterior stonework. You tell a wonderful tale. I'm also amazed that the same family has owned it right through to the present day! Thank you for sharing this bit of history. The photos are remarkable :)
    PS I really like your description of the sunset whilst waiting for your husband ... very romantic!

  3. Living here in the "colonies" (west coast of Canada) I cannot fathom such history! But I love it. You told the story well. We're visiting England for the first time this summer and I can hardly wait to do as you've written - touch the stone and think of the hands that built the walls.
    Lovely post. There's a bit of melancholy around old ruins, isn't there?

  4. This is such an informative post you've written. To live and touch such history is amazing! How lucky you are! Thank you for sharing this. Pat xx

  5. Your part of England is so rich - in buildings, in history and in landscape. I look forward to visiting Shropshire again, and will have to remember these places - your posts will be a bit of an extra 'guide book'.

  6. There is something very special and intriguing about a ruin. I love the colour of the sandstone. What a turbulent history! I will definitely try and look it up next time I'm nearby. Thank you. B xx

  7. Such a beautiful setting, with so much history. Walking in the steps of thousands that have walked before you is always a great adventure. A lovely post.

  8. How lovely, such a pity it's never been cherished. All that effort building it in those difficult times. Maybe they enjoyed a corner of it while they were building the rest! Great photos. x

  9. I love Moreton Corbet Castle. It is a good 'stop off' place on our way home from Shrewsbury to Stoke. Often we've parked in the little car park opposite the farmhouse and had sandwiches and then walked around the castle grounds. Such an interesting and atmospheric place and lovely in all seasons:)

  10. What an interesting place to "go out somewhere"! A lovely idea to get out and about and enjoy the spring. xx