Monday, 26 January 2009

Clun Castle

In A Shropshire Lad, A.E. Housman wrote:
“Clunton and Clunbury,
Clungunford and Clun
Are the quietest places
Under the sun.”

Over the next hundred years it seems that Clun hasn't changed at all. The most noise now seems to be generated by several ducks, that loiter with intent, on the River Clun near to the 14th Century bridge.

The focal point of this small Shropshire town is the imposing ruined castle and earthworks. The castle was established by Robert Picot de Say, a Norman baron, as a motte & bailey structure.

In 1233 the castle was garrisoned for the King and successfully saw off an attack by Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth. The castle was also held by Roger Mortimer of Wigmore Castle (see Wigmore blog).

In the 14th century the castle was transformed into a hunting lodge by the Fitz Alan family, the Earl’s of Arundel. They were probably responsible for the great keep which towers down the side of the motte to the north. In the wars of Owain Glyndŵr the earl of Arundel again fortified the castle.

According to the information panels the unusual placement of the eighty foot high Great Tower, complete with its false arrow loops, on the side of the motte indicates that it was more for show than defence.

By the time of the English Civil War the castle was in ruins and never saw action.
Since 1894 it has been owned by the Duke of Norfolk, a descendant of the original FitzAlan family.

Bruce Bairnsfather, the artist responsbile the the famous WWI cartoon "Old Bill", lived at Cresswell House in Clun for a short time.

Great Tower looking west

Great Tower looking east

14th Century packhorse bridge

St George's Church, Clun. The base of this structure is Saxon. It appeared to our untrained eye that distinctive, and familiar, red Roman tiles had been incorporated into the building material of the bell tower.

Grave of John Osborne who wrote the 1956 play “Look Back in Anger”. He lived in nearby Clunton. He is buried in St George's churchyard, Clun, next to his wife, the critic Helen Dawson, who died in 2004. Note the inscriptions on both of their gravestones.

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