The first surviving record of Rowton is found in the Domesday Book (1086) which stated it was a small settlement of just two households and was in the hands of Alward FitzAlmund who held it as a tenant of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury. Little is known about the site in the three centuries that followed as the narrative of its history has been confused with that of nearby Ruyton Castle. However, at some point a small castle or fortified manor was raised which was later rebuilt either by the Corbet or Le Strange families. In the mid-fifteenth century Rowton was purchased by William Lyster whose family then retained the site until 1889.
By the time of the seventeenth century civil war the then owner of Rowton Castle, Thomas Lyster, was of high enough status to be knighted and he also provided significant funds to the Royalist war effort. However, as Royalist fortunes waned during 1645, Rowton Castle became the target of Parliamentary forces. It is alleged the castle was substantial enough to resist a Parliamentary siege for almost two weeks before honourable terms of surrender were agreed but this was probably a nineteenth century fabrication intended to boast the status of the family. More likely the castle was simply abandoned and then burnt either by the Royalists themselves or the Parliamentary forces of Colonel Mytton.
Whatever the truth about the fate of the castle during the civil war, it was clearly left in a poor state of repair for Richard Lyster (died 1701) bequeathed £1,000 for construction of a new house "upon the bank where the old castle stands". This new brick built house was perhaps intended to raise the profile of his family and if so it worked for his son, also called Richard, went on to become the first Lyster to represent Shropshire in Parliament. After his death in 1766 the castle passed through his immediate descendants including Colonel Henry Lyster who made substantial modifications between 1809-12 and 1824-28 effectively creating the structure seen today.
Following the death of Lady Charlotte Lyster in 1889, Rowton Castle passed to Montagu Lowry Corry and then to his nephew, Colonel Lowry Curry. In 1941 it was sold to the Royal Normal College for the Blind who used it as a replacement building for their London based headquarters that had been destroyed by German bombing. They continued to occupy the site until 1978 when it was sold and converted into a hotel.
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Williams, A and Martin, G.H (2003). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. Viking, London.
Visit Official Website
Rowton Castle is a hotel and restaurant but the exterior can be viewed by non-residents. The structure seen today largely dates from the early nineteenth century.
Rowton Castle was a small fortification or manor house that became the seat of the Lyster family in the mid-fifteenth century. The castle was badly damaged during the civil war and rebuilt into a substantial brick house which was extensively modified in the early nineteenth century. Today the site is in use as a hotel.
Rowton Castle is found just off the A458 between Shrewsbury and the Welsh Border. The castle is clearly visible from the road and there is a dedicated car park. The on-site restaurant is open to non-residents.