Sunday, 28 August 2016

A castle and a ghost

On our travels we’ve often driven past a brown sign pointing to Moreton Corbet Castle and always said, one of these days we’ll visit.   Well, we finally made it.

Following the sign a short drive down a couple of country lanes we soon arrived at the castle, it’s a beautiful spot on a hot sunny afternoon.

A small fortified house was built by the Torets, a family of Saxon descent, not long after the Norman conquest in 1066 in what was then known as Moreton Toret.

By 1239 the site had passed to the Corbet family through marriage and a stone castle was built along the traditional lines of other fortified residences in what were then the lawless Welsh Marches.

Sir Robert Corbet inherited the castle in 1578 and after his extensive travels abroad, immediately started alterations.   The new addition consisted of huge grid windows, lots of classical details and tall gables partially concealing a high pitched slate roof.

A great chamber and long gallery overlooked a garden with formal walks, a central sundial and a nearby orchard.   Parts of the garden are still faintly visible in a nearby field, but we couldn’t see them.

This bed, (photograph from an onsite informational board) currently in Shrewsbury museum, was made for the Corbet family in the 1590’s.   After extensive research a project supported by 200 volunteers helped to recreate the silk velvet curtains and bed covers.   I wonder just how comfortable it is?

After Sir Robert died of the plague in 1583 he was succeeded by Sir Vincent Corbet who continued the alterations.

 During the Civil War Sir Vincent, who was a Royalist supporting Charles I, fortified the house, garrisoning it with a force of 110 men.  Despite this 10 Parliamentarians tricked the garrison into surrendering during in minor skirmish in the middle of the night.

When the Parliamentarians left they burned the castle down and it has been uninhabited ever since.   Well that’s the official version, but…….

according to legend the castle is haunted.

The story goes that despite being a Royalist, Sir Vincent had a softer side and took in Paul Holmyard a Puritan neighbour.   Holmyard became more and more fanatical, in the end as Holmyard was endangering everyone with his ranting and raving, Sir Vincent asked him to leave.

After surviving by scavenging in the woods for a while, Holmyard returned to the castle and cursed the Corbets, saying that the house would never be completed and never be lived in.

Sir Vincent and his son Andrew were so afraid of the curse that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy as they never lived there.

So, according to legend, on clear moonlit nights the bedraggled figure of Paul Holmyard can be seen stalking the shadows, surveying the empty walls and rooms of the castle making sure that nothing is being built.

If you want to go and check it out one dark and lonely moonlit night, feel free to do so, but remember, if you bump into something or someone, it definitely won’t be me!

Right by the castle is the lovely church of St Bartholmew used by the Corbet family.

A tomb in the churchyard shows the elephant and castle which is the emblem of the Corbet family.

Below is the chest tomb of Sir Richard Corbet, who died in 1566, and his wife Margaret.  Although I’m pretty sure that the tomb didn’t have a central heating pipe round the bottom when it was built.

One of several beautiful stained glass windows in the church.

The cenotaph and castle.

Today the Corbet family still own the castle, but the site is administered by English Heritage.

We really enjoyed our visit to Moreton Corbet Castle and are so glad we finally followed that brown sign.

Have fun, we are!

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