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Friday, 11 January 2019

Bishop's Castle


The Kerry Way, an ancient Bronze Age track in Shropshire, runs from the village of Kerry to Bishop’s Castle, but the history of Bishop’s Castle begins when the Saxon Edwin Shakehead was miraculously cured of the palsy by St Ethelbert—or was it just his tomb—who knows? But it is to be found in Hereford Cathedral if you're interested. In gratitude, Edwin gave land to the Bishop of Hereford who promptly built a castle on the largest hill there. 

It was built in 1087, a dangerous year for the Normans. William the Conqueror had just died and the Welsh were one of many who saw it as an opportunity to try their luck.  It survived several Welsh attacks and survived until the C18th when it endured the ignominy of being turned into a bowling green. Much of its stone had long been cannibalised to transform a growing town—predictably named Bishop's Castle.

 Golf Green where once stood the Motte
The C18th hotel built from castle stone

Many of the buildings below were built from Castle stone
A winding lane leading to the main street

The main street leading to the church.

Known as the House on Crutches

The main street is a nice mix of Tudor and C18th.

   It doesn't take long to walk to the church and an interesting splash of colour

The cottages make up for a grey and misty day

My favourite building, predictably, is the Three Tuns brewery. Established in 1642 it is the oldest licensed brewery in Britain. Remarkable in itself but then 1642 was a remarkable year. It marked the start of the English Civil War, a time when people had good cause to drown their sorrows. The Men of Clun and Bishop’s Castle formed a militia loyal to neither king nor Parliament. Their sole intent was to preserve the safety of their respective towns against both sides, though since neither town was of great strategic importance, their impartiality was never challenged.

I first drank in the Three Tuns some decades ago. Then it was an austere place with beautiful beer. They didn’t sell crisps and disapproved of those who went to the Fish and Chip shop next door. Both foods greased the lips thus marring the unique taste of the beer. Not quite a religious experience but more enjoyable than many. Now, all has changed. The Three Tuns has expanded and has a fine restaurant, though I would still advise one to drink first and eat afterwards. 

And after a few pints, rest assured, you're not hallucinating. Bishop's Castle is that kind of town.

It even has a lyrical ambulance for poetical emergencies


Adam M. Smith said...

Looks like a fine town, Mike. My wife and I were within a long stone's throw of it last year when we visited Ludlow and areas nearby on our travels. It's a pity I didn't see your post prior to then and we would have surely swung through the Three Tuns for a pint.

Mike Keyton said...

Ludlow? A hop skip and a jump away from Monmouth. - another fine town and where I live. We could have met up. Never mind. I 'm sure you enjoyed Ludlow, Where else did you go?

Adam M. Smith said...

Hmmm...I replied earlier but the comment appears to have disappeared into the ether. Ludlow was fantastic, though our stay in Shropshire was far far too short (just a single night). We started with a few nights in Cornwall, a visit to Hardy country, a few nights near the Cotswolds, a day each in Hay & Ludlow, and finished up with a few nights in the Dales. We're hopeless Anglophiles so I strongly doubt it will be our last trip. I'm planning a few blog posts about the trip if I ever get around to it.

Maria Zannini said...

I wish there was a castle nearby I could cannibalize. I could use the stone.

The emergency poet, not so much. But then you never know when a rhyme is necessary.

Mike Keyton said...

Looking forward to the blog post, Adam.

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, castle stones or rhymes? I suppose it depends on the quality of either or both. Shakespeare or sandstone.. Discuss. :)