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Whittington Castle

Visited August 2018

Location Whittington, Shropshire
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby Gobowen 2.5 miles
Parking  Yes
Facilities Cafe, Gift shop, Toilets
Map

 

Whittington Castle is unique as it is owned by the local community. It is free to visit, and the castle is financed by the car parking fee and sales from the cafe and gift shop. This means it is well used by the local community, and is accessible at all hours. It was especially nice to see many families relaxing and strolling around the grounds on a summers evening. There are several nice family pubs in the village of Whittington which made the whole visit an enjoyable one.

 


 

 


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The castle was sited on marshy ground, as this would have given extra defence from invaders. The village of Whittington is on the English side of the border area between England and Wales, so a fortified castle was a necessity for any lord with lands. There had been a previous wooden structure on the site before the Norman invasion, but this was enlarged and re-built in stone by William Peveril in the 1100s. It later came into the ownership of the Fitzwarine family, who held it until 1420. Fitzwarine is the name of the family that Dick Whittington goes to live with in London, according to the fairy tale.  There is some dispute over whether Dick Whittington was actually from Whittington , but the story states he was from Gloucester, so it is anyone's guess! 

 


 

 


 

During the Fitzwarine tenure of the castle a pleasure garden was added, which had an ornamental viewing platform built on top of the old motte. This was around the early 1300s and digs at the site revealed some clues to the lay-out, which has given us valuable information on medieval gardening techniques. Although the garden area is grassed over today, the viewing motte is still there and a wooden structure has been built on the top as a representation of what might have been there originally.

 

In its heyday  the castle had as many as ten towers, the remains of six can be made out today, in various states of repair. The most impressive by far are the two 'D' shaped towers of the gatehouse, which was added by the Fitzwarines. The gatehouse is still in good condition today and houses a cafe and shop, and one of the towers is laid out as a dungeon, with stocks and a few skulls thrown in for good measure. Outside there is a pillory, so you can try both types of punishment. The upstairs rooms of the gatehouse are also viewable but there was a private party there the day we visited, which is good to see as it suggests that the castle is well used by the community.

 

As the castle eventually fell into disrepair the gatehouse was used as a house, with the back part extended into extra living quarters. It was privately owned and in habitation until the 1990's, when it was finally vacated. Since 2002 the castle has been leased by the Whittington Castle Trust who restored it with the help of the Lottery Fund and now run it as a community asset. This means there is open access at all times. It seems to be a unique set up but one which clearly works as the castle is well maintained and well used.

 

 


 

 


 

The castle grounds are very picturesque, with a large moat and lake with a beautiful willow tree growing next to it, trailing its branches into the water. There is a small stone bridge crossing a weir in addition to the large drawbridge leading to the gatehouse. It is possible to walk around the edge of the moat and across the bridges, it is a nice walk by the water, but obviously take care with young children. There is a large grassy area for children to play behind the castle, and plenty of space for picnics. There is a toilet in the gatehouse but if you go in the evening this will be closed so bear that in mind. 

 


 

 


 

More info:  Whittington Castle

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