Lockdown, and the closure of so many of our local and national attractions, has led to many people having to think outside the box when it comes to weekends and leisure time. The glorious sunshine has made it far too nice to stay inside, but we have been limited to where we can go and what we can do. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to drive to Stafford Castle, a local heritage site that is almost on our doorstep, but we had never been to before.
Stafford Castle is little more than a ruin now, but it has a rich history that spans 900 years, and was surprisingly still inhabited until the 1950’s. The castle was built on a large, steep hill which made it a strategic site for the Normans, who built the first, huge timber fortress here by 1100 AD. The castle was the home of the Stafford family, with Ralph becoming the 1st Earl of Stafford in the 14th century. However during the English Civil War in the 17th century it was decreed that the castle was to be destroyed. It was rebuilt in the 19th century in the Gothic revival style, but then fell into ruins in the 20th century when the last caretakers left. Now the site has seen excavations again and is now considered to be one of the best surviving examples of Norman earthworks in the country.
Visitors to the castle can enjoy the site, following a trail that takes around 45 minutes to complete, with boards giving information about the castle’s construction and history. You need flat shoes as the site is very hilly, but it is perfect for a picnic on a sunny day, and there are some lovely views to be annoyed. It is great for those who love a history lesson, or for young children who want to let their imagination run wild.
As well as the castle, there is a medieval herb garden in the grounds that is just wonderful, so pretty and fragrant, and another lovely place to explore.
The visitors centre is currently closed, but may reopen on July 4th with the new 1 metre measures in place. The public toilets are also closed. There is a small car park, and plenty of picnic benches for those who want to enjoy a picnic, or just need to rest.
You can find out more here.