RUYTON CASTLE

Built on top of a steeply side promontory overlooking the River Parry, Ruyton Castle was one a number of fortifications along the Welsh border owned by the le Strange family. It was attacked during the Anarchy and suffered several further assaults in the thirteenth century. It was brought by the Earl of Arundel in 1302 but sixty years later it had been abandoned.

History

 

Ruyton Castle was built in the first half of the twelfth century by John le Strange upon a steeply sided promontory to the south of the River Parry. It was probably originally an earth and timber fortification with a tower or ringwork located at the western end of the promontory whilst the bailey extended along the ridge to the east. The castle was one of a line of Marcher Lordships that defended against Welsh incursions with a further two, Ellesmere and Knockin, also owned by the le Strange family. A town was founded to the west of the castle, replacing an earlier settlement, and became known as Ruyton XI Towns, the unusual name because it served as the manorial centre for eleven local townships; Coton, Eardiston, Felton, Haughton, Rednal, Ruyton, Shelvock, Shotatton, Sutton, Tedsmore and Wykey.

 

During the Anarchy, the civil war between Stephen and Matilda over the English throne, the le Strange family supported the former. This led to an attack upon Ruyton Castle in 1148 by one of Matilda's supporters, Fulk Fitz Warine, from his base at Alberbury Castle. His grandson, who was also called Fulk, mounted a further attack in 1203 after he was outlawed by King John. The extent of the damage to Ruyton Castle is unknown but in 1212 the castle suffered another attack, this time by Welsh forces, and this seems to have caused significant damage. The castle may not have been repaired afterwards as the le Strange family abandoned Ruyton and shifted their primary residence to Knockin Castle instead.

 

In 1302 the castle's then owner, John le Strange, sold it to Edmund FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel who added it to his other holdings in the region at Clun and Oswestry. He founded New Ruyton town in 1308 and within five years had rebuilt the castle. His work on the latter included the stone curtain wall around the bailey and the stone keep. Edmund was still the owner in 1326 when Edward II was overthrown by Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. Although Edmund had previously opposed the King, he rallied to his aid and attempted to raise troops to support the beleaguered monarch. However, he was captured and executed whilst his estates, including Ruyton, were seized by the Earl of March. Mortimer's own downfall followed in 1330 when he was captured by his opponents whilst at Nottingham Castle. The following year Ruyton was restored to Edmund's heir, Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel.

 

Ruyton Castle was still a functional residence in 1357 but was abandoned shortly afterwards as a record dated 1364 describes the site as ruinous. Thereafter the castle's stonework was robbed for other uses including construction of the church tower. The town itself also went into decline and in 1407 lost its market. By the nineteenth century a cottage had been built around the ruined castle keep and this was occupied until the late nineteenth century when it was demolished and the grounds became part of the church graveyard.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Allen, R (1976). English Castles. Batsford, London.

Armitage, E.S (1904). Early Norman Castles of the British Isles. English Historical Review Vol 14 (Reprinted by Amazon).

Creighton, O.H (2002). Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England. Equinox, Bristol.

Douglas, D.C and Rothwell, H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 3 (1189-1327). Routledge, London.

Historic England (2003). Tower keep castle immediately west of St John the Baptist's Church, List entry 1020851. Historic England, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Kraus International Publications.

Liddiard, R (2005). Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism and Landscape 1066-1500. Macclesfield.

Morris, M (2003). Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain. Windmill Books, London.

Saltar, M (2002). Castles of the East Midlands. Folly Publications, Malvern.

Sewell, R.C (1846). Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum.

Williams, A and Martin, G.H (2003). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. Viking, London.

What's There?

Ruyon Castle consists of the fragmentary masonry remains of a fifteenth century Keep along with slight earthworks.

Keep. The stone Keep was constructed from sandstone rubble with ashlar dressing.

St John's Church. The church dates from the mid-twelfth century and was originally the castle chapel. The west tower was built with stone plundered from the castle keep. The church was extensively restored in the nineteenth century.

Getting There

Ruyton Castle is found off the B4397 in the centre of Ruyton XI Towns. On-road car parking is possible in the immediate vicinity.

Ruyton Castle

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