The Church of St john The Baptist dates to the 12th century. During the civil war in 1645 when Shrewsbury had fallen to the Parliamentarians an army was sent to seize Ludlow Castle. On their way, troops came across Stokesay and it was ordered to be 'slighted' or flattened. Stokesay escaped this fate, but in 1648 the church was extensively damaged during a battle . The church was virtually rebuilt in 1654. This makes the church important as it is one of the few churches built in England during the Commonwealth period.
We were too late to get inside, but wandered around the graveyard
Inside, the church has elegant canopied pews where the gentry would have sat and box pews for the humbler folk. There are texts carved and painted on the walls.
We were too late to get inside, but wandered around the graveyard.
Stokesay Castle is technically a fortified Manor House, not a castle. After the Norman conquest, the settlement, originally known as 'Stoke', meaning 'Dairy farm', became the property of the de Say family, hence its name Stokesay . It remained their home until about 1240.
The lower two storey's in the North tower survive from this early era, but Stokesay as it is today is largely the work of Lawrence de Ludlow, a wealthy self-made wool merchant,who owned it between 1281 and 1296.
Because he lent money to the king, he was granted a licence from King Edward I to fortify his house at Stokesay and he set about turning the castle into a fine country residence. He built the Great Hall, comfortable living quarters, the south tower and the curtain wall. The result was a large elegant residence, surrounded by a water-filled moat, now dry..
Lawrence's decendents lived at Stokesay until 1497.
In 1598 Stokesay was sold to pay debts, and was eventually let to Charles Baldwyn who was MP for Ludlow in the 1630s.Baldwin is thought to have built the timber-framed Jacobean gatehouse on a previous medieval site.. The gatehouse remains today and acts as an entrance to the courtyard.
In the 1642-46 Civil war, Stokesay narrowly escaped destruction but managed to survive.
Over 150 years of neglect followed and nearly Stokesay came close to destruction.. Stokesay was bought in 1869 by a Victorian named JD Allcroft who began restoring the historic Stokesay to its former glory.When Allcroft died in 1893, his son carried on the work, before finally opening tthe building to the public in 1908 . It then passed to English Heritage in 1992 who still manage and maintain the site.
Stokesay's superb condition today is largly due to the fact that it only changed hands five times in 700 years.