Kenilworth Castle stands on a low hill that was once at the heart of a 1,600 hectare (4,000 acre) park and surrounded by a vast man-made lake. The spectacular ruins, built mostly from the local red sandstone, reveal much of its medieval and Tudor past.
The castle is approached from the south by a causeway that acted initially as a dam for a lake (the mere) and later also as a tiltyard (jousting arena). At its outer end are the remains of the Gallery Tower, which guarded the entrance and later served as a spectators’ gallery for the tiltyard. Beyond is a large defensive earthwork known as the Brays.
At the further end of the causeway is Mortimer’s Tower, the main medieval entrance to the castle. It was built as part of King John’s ring of stone defences for the outer bailey between about 1210 and 1215, in front of a simpler, 12th-century gatehouse. Even in their ruined form, both gatehouses are remarkable survivals.
The outer curtain wall to the west and south has many buttresses but only two towers – Mortimer’s Tower at the south-east angle and the Swan Tower at the north-west. The north curtain wall was deliberately destroyed during the Civil War to make the castle indefensible, and only Lunn’s Tower at the north-east angle survives. To the east, between Lunn’s Tower and Mortimer’s Tower, is the semi-octagonal Water Tower.
Within the castle, on the higher ground to the west, lies the inner court, which is now enclosed by buildings on three sides. The apartments that formerly closed the inner court to the east, ‘King Henry’s Lodgings’, no longer survive.
On the north side is the massive sandstone keep or great tower, the defensive heart of the castle as well as the main residence during the 12th century. The two main floors were probably built in the 1120s, most of the top stage being added by King John about 1210–15. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, introduced the large grid windows on the first floor in about 1570–71 to light a great room for entertaining. The north wall was demolished in 1649–50. On the west side is the forebuilding, which Dudley remodelled as an approach to the privy garden (see below).
To the west of the forebuilding is the magnificent sweep of buildings constructed from 1371 by John of Gaunt. His great hall is the centrepiece, an architectural masterpiece intended to convey his princely status and aspirations. The interior has vast traceried windows and a huge bay, and originally had no fewer than six fireplaces. The walls are decorated with stone panelling and would have displayed prized tapestries.
To the right are the remains of the kitchen, twice the size of a normal aristocratic kitchen, and the Strong Tower, which housed larders and lodgings. At the south end of the great hall are the Saintlowe Tower and the site of the state apartments. The apartments, which were on the first floor, are now lost, but their elegant entrance oriel survives.
At the east end of the state apartments and juxtaposed with the great tower to the north is the four-storey block known as Leicester’s Building, constructed by Robert Dudley in 1571–2 specifically to accommodate the queen during her progresses through the country. Elizabeth I used the building in 1572 and again in 1575. The block featured large glazed windows with superb views, huge fireplaces, and a luxuriously decorated and furnished chamber for dancing, a passion shared by Elizabeth and Dudley.
The rest of the castle’s interior, the outer court, is divided into three areas: the left-hand court, running south-west around the inner court; the right-hand court, north-west of the inner court; and the base court, stretching north from Mortimer’s Tower. Within the base court are the 16th-century stables built by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and an early 14th-century collegiate chapel.
Leicester’s Gatehouse, built by Robert Dudley on the north side of the base court, provided a grand new entrance to the castle, and gave access via a long bridge to the hunting ground created by Dudley north of the mere. After the Civil War, the building was converted into a residence, using stonework and interiors from elsewhere in the castle.
Let us be who we are and be that well, in order to bring honour to the master craftsman whose handiwork we are.
St. Francis de Sales
It is a lovely place to visit not only do you get a guided tour that explains the history and how the mill works. There is also opportunity to walk around the mill pools and through the surrounding woodlands which allow views of the mill from different perspectives.
There is also the opportunity to walk under the viaduct (part of the severn valley railway) and view it from both sides along with trains travelling along the viaduct. The walk also allows you to see the track and the steam trains at eye level. The train drivers often blow the trains whistle and wave to visitors as the train passes by. The flour that the mill produces can be purchased raw or in the form of scones in the tea shop.
Highley railway station is a station on the Severn Valley Railway heritage line in Shropshire, near the west bank of the River Severn and just under a mile south-east of the village of Highley. Highley is the only staffed single-platform station on the line. Other stops with one platform are unstaffed halts.
Highley station opened to the public on 1 February 1862 and closed on 9 September 1963, before the Beeching axe closures.
Highley station was important as the transport hub of a colliery district, with four nearby coal mines linked to the Severn Valley line by standard and narrow gauge lines, cable inclines and aerial ropeways . There were extensive sidings along the line, and wagon repair works at Kinlet, half-a-mile south.
The station was inconveniently far from Highley so the arrival of a bus service seriously affected use of the station.
The signal box opposite the platform remained in use until 1969 when Alveley colliery closed and freight traffic ceased. The station site was disused until preservation.
Clun castle was built in the late 11th century to proclaim Norman dominance over this part of the Welsh Marches. It later became home to the Fitzalans, and important ruling family.
After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the border between Wales and England remained an usettled area. William the Conqueror granted lands here to his followers to defend the border. These men became the powerful marcher lords, ruling their lands independently of royal control.
One of them, Picot de Say, is thought to have built the castle, high on a natural spru guarding the Clun valley. In 1155, the castle passed by marriage of Isabella de Say to William Fitzalan, and was owned by the powerful Fitzalan family for the next 400 years.
Clun was at the centre of a vast lordship know as the honour of Clu, over which the Fitzalans excercised unlimited authority, administering a mixture of Welsh and English law.*
*From a signboard by the castle remains
Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together,
and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings
of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other’s shadow.
On Marriage, from The Prophet.