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Acton Burnell Castle

Visited August 2018

Location Acton Burnell, Shropshire
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes
Facilities None


Our journey to Acton Burnell Castle was along some crazy narrow lanes and a ford to cross just to add to the fun- but it was worth it once we got there as it was a beautiful but compact castle deep in the Shropshire countryside.






It is actually approached via the entrance to the college next door, which is a bit confusing as to reach the car park you have to drive through the college gates. However once you are through the gates there is a separate lane to the castle and church with dedicated parking spaces for visitors. It is a very peaceful location next to the church, entrance is through a small wooded area next to a large field. There were other visitors there when we arrived but after five minutes or so we had the place to ourselves and we could really explore.




The castle itself is not huge, it is actually more of a fortified house built by Robert Burnell in 1284. It never really had any defensive capabilities, and was more to showcase his wealth and status. He had risen up from a land owning family to become the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and employed the best masons possible to build his castle and the church next door. The castle had many domestic rooms such as a bake house, stables and even a brewery. There was also guest accommodation as a Bishop would be expected to offer hospitality. The red sandstone used to build made the castle particularly attractive, as opposed to some of the more sombre looking military castles of the time.


The castle was lived in until the 1420's when it was vacated and left empty to deteriorate. However it remained in the ownership of the Burnell family and Acton Burnell Hall was built next to it in the 18th century.





Although parts of the castle are still standing to full height, including one of the towers, there are no upper floors anymore as the castle is open to the rafters. There are the remains of some fine windows and archways, it makes a good outdoor play area for children to run in and out of. The site is nicely maintained, with a large area of grass in front of the castle, and some mature trees to provide shade in the sunny weather. Best of all, it is free to visit.


On your way back to the car take a slight detour to the neighbouring church of St Mary's, it has a picturesque grave yard and some interesting ancient tombs. We were lucky enough to visit the church during organ practice, so we had musical accompaniment.





More info:  English Heritage Acton Burnell Castle

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