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Hopton Castle

Hopton Castle was an 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, founded by Robert "Picot" de Say. In the 13th century Walter de Hopton founded the stone castle and added an impressive rectangular two storey keep, with a projecting stair turret to the low motte. The inner bailey, is lined with the foundations of ranges of buildings, encased by a curtain wall and flanking towers. This low lying castle was defended by a large 14th century outer bailey platform, marshy ground and wet ditches.

History of Hopton Castle

1140's - The original timber castle at Hopton is built during the civil war between King Stephen and Queen Matilda by Osbert de Hopton.

1231 - King Henry III stays for a short period at Hopton.

1260's - During the Wars of the Roses the swashbuckling Justice Walter Hopton rises to significant fame and influence.

1267 - A complaint is finally made that in November 1264 Walter de Hopton seized £20 worth of cattle and took them to his castle. (more in the History section)

Castle today

This formidable ruined keep in the extreme south-west of Shropshire is old enough in foundation, strong enough, and certainly looks grim enough to have played a desperate and perilous part in the history of Norman relations with Wales at least from the time of Henry II. Close neighbour to the Welsh of Powys, it must have seen sporadic raiding in its time, yet recorded history has passed it by until the Civil War, when it was garrisoned for Parliament, besieged by the Royalist forces for three weeks, and after accepting an offer of honourable quarter in return for surrender, every man of the garrison was killed and the castle slighted and abandoned.

This is one castle visit worth reading the history in advance, as it will make your experience feel quite different when you wander round the castle walls. There is a dedicated car park just outside the castle grounds, so this is a castle where access is very easy to get to. As it also consists of just a tower with earthworks, it won't take long or require a great deal of effort to stroll round its grounds.

Text by Fred Vincent