Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stokesay Castle and Witley Court

From left to right, top to bottom: Stokesay Castle, great hall entrance; Witley Court, grand steps to East Garden; Flowers at Stokesay; Slide at Wilderness playground, Ben loves slides; Roses at Stokesay Castle; Stakesay Gatehouse, the ridiculously bright colors likely saved the Castle during the English Civil War; Rope Bridge at the Wilderness playground; Witley Court East Garden; Stokesay Castle South Tower
Saturday was a great day to see another castle.  Stokesay Castle really shows just how liberal a definition they had of castle as it is more of a fortified manor house.  Apparently Lord Ludlow wanted to build things like towers and a moat which only castles could have so he petitioned the King for "castle" status and received it.  It didn't turn out well for him during the English Civil War because the Parliamentarians saw those turrets, they decided to invade to make sure there were no Royalists there.  It was quite a price to pay for some fancy stone buildings!  

The tickets included an audio guide so we got one for everybody.  Ben likes to push the buttons and it keeps him entertained.  It didn't help this time though.  I ended up hanging outside with Ben because he was yelling and screaming inside the large empty hall, making it impossible for anyone else to listen to their guides.  I even tried some tic tac bribes but that just exacerbated the situation.  There were a few lovely flowers though and when I wasn't trying to bribe Ben with cookies/biscuits, I took pictures of them and enjoyed sitting outside.

After a bit of lunch we were ready to leave Stokesay castle.  It was relatively early in afternoon so we decided a visit to Witley Court and Gardens as well.  (I should say, we had purchased an English Heritage Pass which gave free entrance into several historical places all over England.  In part we were trying to make good use of it.)  At first I think the most important draw was the wilderness play areas for the kids.  It was the closest we would get to a big Pemberley-esque manor house on this trip and I was all for it.

Front entrance

The kids has a great time at the playground and didn't want to leave, even when it stated raining on us.  We'd brought rain jackets and so we soldiered on to the manor house.  By the time we arrived at the house, the rain had stopped and we were able to see glimpses of the once majestic home.  The house had been around for a while--several hundred years at least--but came into it's glory in the mid-1800s.

Just inside the entrance hall.

The house burned out in 1937 in a fire that destroyed most of the building leaving just the exterior shell behind it.  Today you can see the bricks and potions of the decorated facade.  It was interesting to think about how as people we often try to put on a grand exterior to hide our imperfections or "commonalities" but inside we're all just people just like this house was grand on the outside but inside it was built of bricks just like the rest of the buildings of the time.

One of the gardens has been restored and it looked beautiful.  The grounds really were stunning.  As we walked around and gazed at the once grand building, it was easy to imagine the carriages and the ladies in their dresses arriving for a ball or social event.  It was quite the house.

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