Stokesay takes it name from the
old English vill of Stoke which belonged to the Say family.
They were lords of Clun
until the 1150s and were descended from Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, the king of
Powys and founder of Powis castle. Tradition says that after Laurence Ludlow bought
Stokesay from the Says, some time before 1284, he built the
castle. Unfortunately, yet again, science says
differently. The woodwork on the upper levels of the north
tower and in the hall has been dendrochronologically dated to around
1262 although several pieces of wood within the hall were earlier, viz,
1118, 1151, 1192, 1218, 1230, 1241, 1242 and 1245. As the
woodwork was made to fit the tower and shows no sign of reuse it seem
reasonably secure that the masonry under the woodwork predates
this. In short, the woodwork suggests that something existed
on the site from the early twelfth century and that the north tower and
hall block were standing by the mid thirteenth century.
Laurence himself died in 1294, when he drowned as his ship sank as its
woolen cargo had become sodden in a storm.
The castle was slighted after a determined siege during the Civil War.
The hub of the castle is the peculiar 3 storey heart-shaped tower,
sometimes called the south tower, whose woodwork was totally
refurbished in 1641. This is obviously the keep of the
fortress and was joined to a sub-rectangular ward by high curtain
walls, of which the east portion has totally gone. Between
the equally irregular 3 storey north tower and the keep was the hall
block, 79' long, which has survived intact from the thirteenth
century. This makes up the bulk of the castle remains
although a wooden gatehouse of 1641 survives to the east. The
whole thing was surrounded by a water filled moat and had a pond to the
south as well as other earthworks which point towards further water
defences. North of the castle is the early Stokesay church.
not join me at other Lost Welsh Castles next Spring?
Please see the information on tours at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry