I’m sorry, there’s been more marking, I’m not sure another explanation for the pause is necessary… As a result I continue trotting along about eleven months behind, taking me to April 2015, when I was in the town of Bridgnorth. Now, had you asked me when I was younger I’d have said there was only one reason to be in Bridgnorth other than relatives, which would have been that it is one end of the Severn Valley Railway, but over years more recent various people had spoken well of it as a place to visit and also noted that it has a castle. And being in Birmingham, as I still was then, meant that I was finally close enough to do the Severn Valley and still have some time at the Bridgnorth end to explore. But one of those people had said it was basically a ruin and the other that it was really impressive, and it seemed that both could not be right. As it happens, though, they are…
The direction from which you approach can make quite a difference, in fact. From some aspects it’s hardly there at all.
I should say, by the way, that this trip was the first trial of a new camera, and I’d left it set to provide a datestamp in the photos. It took me a little while to review enough photos to decide I hated that and switch it off, so many of these pictures do have numbers in the bottom right. Sorry about that.
The sorry story here is regaled to one by local signage. What you are looking at above is the ruins of a square tower which apparently sat at the corner of a circuit of walls atop the hill at Bridgnorth and was put there in 1101 by one Robert de Bellême, and withstood siege by King Henry I the very next year. What we see now, however, is the result of bombardment, capture and subsequent demolition during the English Civil War, when the place was held and lost by the Royalists in 1646. This means that among other things, if you look closely enough you can see holes caused by cannonballs.
There’s just enough left from one angle to give you some sense of an interior. It would have been close, but I bet it seemed fairly impregnable until it finally wasn’t.
There are other things to see in Bridgnorth, of course, and not all of them are even trains (does a vintage funicular count as a train? They call it a railway so it probably does, doesn’t it?). The place has a good sense of its own history…
… but for general visual impact, as well as for medieval relevance, the castle is hard to beat, toppled or not.
Ah, Robert de Belleme, the eldest son of two notorious families, Montgomery and Talvas/Belleme. According to his entry in Wikipedia, Orderic Vitalis described him as “Grasping and cruel, an implacable persecutor of the Church of God and the poor… unequalled for his iniquity in the whole Christian era.”
Robert was among the many rebels who faced execution after rebelling against William II in 1088, but were spared, on the grounds of their utility to the government, courtesy of earnest intercession by the loyal barons led by Count Alan Rufus.
It also helped Robert that his father Roger, Earl of Shrewsbury, had been beaten early in the conflict and had therefore had to come to terms (duplicitously) with the king.
Bridgnorth seemed to us to be an attractive Tuscan hill town plonked down in England.
P.S. It was famous in its day (at least to the short-trousered) as home to the Bridgnorth Stamp Club, which advertised its wares in, I suppose, Wizard, Rover and suchlike homes of ripping yarns.
I obviously haven’t spent enough time in Tuscan hill towns! But which of us has, really?
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