10 Historic Shropshire Castles to Visit in 2024 

Do you love visiting castles? If so, here are the 10 best castles in Shropshire to visit in 2024, from medieval manor houses to historic ruins!

Stokesay Castle in Shropshire, England

The beautiful county of Shropshire is known for its scenic countryside and medieval market towns. As well as being England’s most rural county, the landscape was once dotted with a large number of castles. This was often due to the actions of Roger of Montgomery, one of William I’s strongest allies, who was gifted Shropshire in the late 11th century following the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Shropshire shares a border with North Wales, and the castles were built to defend against attacks from over the border. The earliest castles were motte and bailey castles, basically a mound of earth with a timber building on top, and only the hill remains of these castles today. 

Some of the structures were later rebuilt in stone, and those medieval castles remain in varying conditions. They all have a fascinating history, and visiting castles in Shropshire makes a great full-day hike or family day out. 

Inside the castle grounds at Ludlow Castle, Shropshire

So here are 10 castles to visit in Shropshire, from the ruins of Oswestry Castle to the glorious structures at Shrewsbury Castle and Ludlow Castle (pictured above). Many of these are pretty close together, so if you love visiting castles, you can easily fit two or more into a day trip. 

By the way, I haven’t added Broncroft Castle to my roundup. Although it’s technically a fortified manor house in Shropshire, it’s a private residence, and you can’t visit it so it doesn’t make my list!

The red sandstone Shrewsbury Castle in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

Shrewsbury Castle (and Laura’s Tower)

Shrewsbury Castle dates back to 1067, making it one of the first castles built by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest. Soon afterwards, Roger de Montgomery heavily extended the castle to create a base for operations over the nearby border with Wales. The castle also provided an additional layer of defence to the town, which sits within a loop of the River Severn.

Shrewsbury Castle was originally built as a motte and bailey castle and later fortified in red sandstone with town walls which once surrounded the town. However, the castle fell into decay in the 14th century at the end of the Welsh wars, and little now remains of the town walls. 

Shrewsbury Castle is a few minutes’ walk from Shrewsbury railway station and overlooks the centre of Shropshire’s county town. It is now a Grade I listed building and was the location of Shrewsbury’s Borough Council chamber for over 50 years. Today, it’s home to the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum, which features on our list of the best things to do in Shropshire

When you visit Shrewsbury Castle, don’t forget to take a look at Laura’s Tower. This folly was added to the site by Thomas Telford in the 18th century, and provides stunning views over the town and surrounding countryside. 

Shrewsbury Castle

Ludlow castle in Shropshire, England

Ludlow Castle

The part-ruined castle at Ludlow was built soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It was probably built by Walter de Lacy, one of William the Conqueror’s most powerful supporters, and is considered one of the first stone castles built in England.

Ludlow Castle sits on a strategic high point overlooking the River Teme, a crucial site in the battle for control of the Welsh Borders in the Middle Ages. Its long history has seen several additions to the castle, including the Great Tower, which was added to the site in the 12th century. Other key features include the Great Hall, the Great Chamber and an unusual circular chapel.

In the English Civil War of the 1640s, Ludlow Castle was initially held by the Royalists but was seized and used as a garrison by the Parliamentarians before falling into disrepair after the war. 

Now owned by the Earl of Powis, Ludlow Castle is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument that has been a popular Shropshire tourist attraction since the 1800s. It’s open to the public, and you can climb the main tower to enjoy the breathtaking views over Shropshire. 

The castle also hosts several Shropshire events annually, including the hugely popular Ludlow Food Festivals. As well as the facilities within Ludlow town centre, there’s an on-site cafe serving breakfast, lunch, and sweet treats. 

Ludlow Castle

  • Address: Castle Square, Ludlow SY8 1AY
  • Dogs: Dogs on a leash are welcome inside the Castle grounds and on the cafe terrace.
  • Parking: Plenty of parking within 5 minutes walk of the castle
  • Visit the Ludlow Castle website
The yellow timber-framed gatehouse at Stokesay Castle in Shropshire

Stokesay Castle

Beautiful Stokesay Castle is considered one of the best examples of a fortified medieval manor house in England and is undoubtedly one of the best castles in Shropshire. It was built in the late 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, one of the richest men in England at that time. His family owned Stokesay Castle until it passed into private ownership in the 16th century. 

The castle is protected as a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument. It’s now under the care of English Heritage and is probably best known for its 17th-century gatehouse. 

Little of the castle has changed since the 13th century, so visiting Stokesay Castle is a rare opportunity to see a near-perfect set of medieval buildings and get a hint of medieval life. You can see characters carved into the gatehouse timbers, the castle tower offers stunning views over the Shropshire Hills and the tearoom serves delicious cakes, pastries and lunches.

Stokesay Castle

  • Address: Ludlow Rd, Craven Arms SY7 9AH
  • Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds; only assistance dogs are allowed inside the castle.
  • Parking: Car park available close to the castle entrance. Free for NT members, parking charges apply to non-members.
  • Visit the Stokesay Castle website

Moreton Corbet Castle

Moreton Corbet Castle is a Grade 1-listed castle and manor house that has been out of use since the 1800s. The earliest parts of the historic castle at Moreton Corbet, including an impressive gatehouse, were built in the 13th century. Part of the curtain wall and medieval keep can still be seen, along with damage from musket fire in the English Civil War. 

The Corbet family remodelled the castle in the 1500s, and you can still see the remains of the Italian-inspired south wing from this period. It hints at how impressive the manor house must have looked in its prime.

Moreton Corbet castle is still owned by the Corbet family but is under the guardianship of English Heritage. The castle ruins are great for exploring, and the grounds make the perfect spot for a picnic. 

Moreton Corbet Castle

  • Address: Moreton Corbet, Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4DW
  • Parking: Limited free car parking is available in the layby next to the castle.
  • Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome.
  • Visit the Moreton Corbet website

Clun Castle

The ruined medieval castle at Clun, Shropshire, was built soon after the Norman invasion of England in 1066 and further developed in the 12th century. It became a vital part of the defence against Welsh attacks in medieval times but was eventually abandoned and turned into a hunting lodge. 

By the 16th century, Club Castle was mainly ruined and it remained in poor condition until renovation work started in the late 19th century. The remains of the 13th-century four-storey keep can still be seen, along with a single wall from what appears to be an earlier and smaller keep. 

Today, Clun Castle is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Monument under the care of English Heritage. It is owned by the Duke of Norfolk, who also holds the title of Baron Clun, and is open to the public with free admission. The site also hosts the Clun Carnival and Show in August.

Clun Castle

  • Address: Newport Street, Clun, Craven Arms SY7 8JT
  • Parking: A free car park can be found over the footbridge next to the castle.
  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome at the castle.
  • Visit the Clun Castle website 
The impressive gatehouse at Whittington Castle in Shropshire, England

Whittington Castle

Whittington Castle lies in North Shropshire, a few miles from the border with North Wales. It is in the village of Whittington, not far from the town of Oswestry and the historic iron-age fort of Old Oswestry.

Like many Shropshire castles, Whittington Castle was originally built as a motte and bailey castle. In the 13th century, the original structure was destroyed by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth of Gwynedd and later replaced by a stone castle with a curtain wall. 

Over time, the castle fell into ruin and by the time of the English Civil War, it was no longer defensible. 

A recent 1.5 million renovation project has restored some of Whittington Castle’s former glory, and it now operates as a community-run castle. Admission to Whittington Castle is free except for special events, and most of the castle is wheelchair-friendly, apart from the viewing mound. 

The castle’s tea room, kitchen@thecastle, offers delicious cakes, lunches and cream teas, using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. 

Whittington Castle

  • Address: Whittington, Oswestry SY11 4DF
  • Parking: Paid car parking is available on-site. Fees are used for ongoing maintenance.
  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome throughout, including the cafe, which offers free dog biscuits
  • Visit the Whittington Castle website 

Bridgnorth Castle

Bridgnorth Castle was built in 1101 on the orders of Robert de Belleme, the son of Roger de Montgomery, who later became the third Earl of Shrewsbury. The castle’s square Great Tower was added in the 1160s. 

Bridgnorth Castle had lost much of its strategic importance by the 1500s. However, the town was a major Royalist stronghold in the English Civil War of the mid-17th century and was seized by the Parliamentarians after a three-week siege. The castle was destroyed on Cromwell’s orders, and much of the stone was used to repair buildings damaged in the siege.

Bridgnorth town park now surrounds the castle remains, and part of the ruined castle’s Great Tower can still be seen today. Due to damage in the Civil War, it now leans at an alarming 15-degree angle, four times as much as the Leaning Tower of Pisa! 

Bridgnorth Castle

  • Address: 3 West Castle Street, Bridgnorth WV16 4AF
  • Parking: Plenty of paid and on-street parking within one mile
  • Dogs: Welcome in the park and gardens

Acton Burnell Castle

Acton Burnell Castle is a medieval fortified manor house near the village of Acton Burnell, about 10 miles south of Shrewsbury. It was built by Richard Burnell, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who was a trusted friend to King Edward I. Edward frequently stayed with Burnell in Shropshire on his way to military campaigns in Wales.

During one of Edward I’s visits in 1283, Burnell’s tithe barn is believed to have been the site of the first English Parliament in which commoners were represented. The following year, Richard Burnell was given permission to build a fortified manor house, a rare privilege at that time. 

The manor house was abandoned by 1420 and left to decay. Now, all that remains of Acton Burnell Castle is the shell of the manor house and the barn’s gable ends. Acton Burnell Castle is registered as a Grade I Listed Building due to its special historical interest, and the ruins are managed by English Heritage.

The castle is currently temporarily closed for emergency tree work.

Acton Burnell Castle

  • Address: Old Walls, Shrewsbury SY5 7PE
  • Parking: There is free parking for five cars and one minibus near the site’s entrance gate
  • Dogs: Dogs on leads are welcome.
  • Visit the Acton Burnell Castle website
The ruins of Hopton Castle in Shropshire, England

Hopton Castle

The ruins of Hopton Castle are situated in the tiny village of Hopton Castle, near Craven Arms on the edge of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s believed to have been founded in the 12th century by Walter de Hopton as a motte and bailey castle, which was later fortified in stone with a two-storey rectangular keep. 

The final Hopton died during the Wars of the Roses, and the castle passed to the family of Robert Corbet, who also built Morton Corbet castle. Hopton Castle later passed by marriage to Henry Wallop, father of one of the regicides of King Charles I, Robert Wallop. 

Hopton Castle was one of the few castles held by the Parliamentarians in the Welsh border area. It was the site of a three-week siege, which is believed to have ended in a bloody siege breach.

Hopton Castle has been in ruins since the early 18th century. It is now owned by Hopton Castle Preservation Trust, and a partial restoration was carried out in the early 21st century. Even in its ruined state, it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Hopton Castle

Oswestry Castle

The first record of Oswestry Castle was in the Domesday Book of 1086, when it was known as Castelle Lurve (or Castle L’oeuvre), and it has been known by various names throughout its violent history. Towards the end of the 13th century, the castle’s walls were extended to protect the town of Oswestry. 

Today, there isn’t much left of Oswestry Castle, which was sacked many times and then almost totally demolished by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. However, if you visit Oswestry (and there are plenty of things to do in Oswestry and North Shropshire), it’s worth climbing the steps up to Castle Mound in the centre of the town. 

There, you can see the remains of the 13th-century castle keep, which is now a Grade II Listed Building, and the site provides an excellent view of the surrounding town.

Oswestry Castle

  • Address: Oswestry SY11 1PZ
  • Parking: Plenty of car parking nearby

That’s my round-up of the historic castles of Shropshire – which one will you visit first?

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