November 21, 2015
November was quickly coming to a close, and with it the season providing good weather for adventures. We embarked on one last adventure before winter closed in on us completely, and another English Heritage site was calling our name - after all, we have to put those passes of ours to good use!
Stokesay Castle is in Craven Arms, about an hour and a half train ride straight west of Birmingham, almost to the border of Wales. The country looks completely different here, and it is extraordinary. As we got close, my heart lightened at the sight of snow-topped mountains and sheep grazing the land. It was as pretty as a postcard.
This place was fabulous, seriously. We spent all day wandering around this medieval fortified manor (AKA small castle) and were completely content doing so. Walking around in a place that was built in the 1200s is still so unreal. It was a beautifully sunny day, but it was awfully blustery and bitterly cold. Winter had definitely arrived in England!
The first place you walk through before entering the manor house is the gatehouse. It was added to Stokesay in 1641 - that's 135 years before we became a country; the castle had been around for 350 years before the gatehouse built. I'm not so hot at mathematics, but that's a lot of years. Hence why I will forever be ruined for our "old" architecture back home.
The wind blew through the ancient windows and doors, the chill rather harsh on our faces as we stood in the great hall of Stokesay Castle. It's no wonder their fireplaces were so large. As it was built in the 13th century, I was impressed to find out that some of the windows had glass. Not all of the windows had glass, mind you; only the top portion of the windows in the great hall contained glass, and the bottom portion only had wooden shutters. Brr! The roof of the hall employed a rather new construction technique using naturally curved tree trunks, and it is most impressive even today. The stairs leading from the hall to the upper level were kind of scary to walk on, too - who knows how long they've been there!
|This was the second of five hot beverages that day. SECOND OF FIVE. It was so cold!|
|Roses in bloom during literally freezing weather. That's the magic of England.|
|The gatehouse. Love that half-timbered look!|
|Standing in the great hall. Those bottom windows only had wooden shutters back in the day!|
|The great hall. Those stairs were a bit scary, but that door is awesome!|
|A view into the great hall.|
|Those tiles would have originally been brightly colored. You can barely see the patterns now!|
|Daisies in freezing temperatures bringing life to a medieval castle.|
|Personal quarters. The wooden paneling was only added in the 1700s, but look at the detail in the wooden mantle!|
|To give a bit of perspective on the size of that fireplace...|
|...it was ginormous!|
|Castle lighting is rather beautiful.|
|It was really cold and extremely windy. Brr!|
|The view from the top of the castle. Talk about beautiful!|
|The castle had a teeny cafe. We got hot chocolate just because we were frozen stiff!|
Public footpaths are the best thing ever. We walk everywhere around Birmingham and when we got on explorations, but we don't really get tired of the walking part. We always complained that it wasn't feasible to walk places back home, so we have really come to kind of love relying on our own two feet. That has probably only encouraged our love for the public walking paths here. They're something that I will truly miss, no matter how much I love or hate living in England on any given day.
We also don't take blue skies for granted over here. It's a lovely thing to see the sky as we adventure outside city centre, even if we were freezing our tails off. We embraced it whole heartedly!
|Just along the public footpath near Onny River.|
|I made a Scottish pun... something about the bonny Onny river.|
|Leaves trodden black.|
|His name is Smudge, and he was so sweet that I just wanted to pick him up and squeeze him.|
|The worse "latte" I've ever had, but it was hot and we were sitting in comfy leather chairs by a fireplace, so I was happy.|
|Winter skies over a house by the train stop.|
We were extremely cold and tired by the time we got back to our flat, but getting out of Birmingham means we come home happy. When that day involves medieval castles, it's pretty darn fantastic!