Moreton Corbet Castle is a wonderfully evocative ruin in Shropshire, and a good place to break a journey, eat a picnic, enjoy a picturesque ramble or take atmospheric photographs. With no ticket office or tourist crowds, the shell of an elegant manor house stands hauntingly alone in the countryside.
A castle on this spot was first acquired by the Corbet family in the thirteenth century, and the same family still own the site today (although it is managed by English Heritage). The medieval castle was altered and added to over the years, with the greatest change being the construction of a Tudor manor house. Damaged in the Civil War, the castle’s rambling buildings were patched up but eventually abandoned in the eighteenth century and left to decay.
Nowadays visitors can see traces of the castle’s different stages of development, from a fortified medieval tower to a grand Renaissance facade, which stands as a testament to the ambitions of the sixteenth-century Corbets. Above the arch in the stone gatehouse is the date 1579 and the initials of Sir Andrew Corbet, along with the family shield bearing an elephant. Sir Andrew added domestic buildings to the castle, and rebuilt this gatehouse. The date on the gatehouse is the year after Sir Andrew’s death, and the carving would have been placed there by his son and heir, Robert Corbet. Robert developed the family home further, building the tall and stately manor house. Inspired by his travels in Europe, his new home incorporated elaborate classical details and motifs, some of which can still be seen on the ruined facade. Only five years after inheriting the family estates, Robert Corbet died of the plague when visiting London.
Visitors to Moreton Corbet shouldn’t miss the church close by (there’s a gate from the castle grounds). Dedicated to St Bartholomew, it contains interesting Corbet tombs and memorials, including two painted chest tombs bearing full-length reclining statues of the deceased couples.
Moreton Corbet is seven miles north-east of Shrewsbury, just off the B5063 (between the A49 and the A53). The site is open in daylight hours and free to enter. Information panels explain the ruins; there are no other facilities. Limited parking is available by the roadside outside. The castle makes a good side-trip when visiting Hawkstone Park Follies, five miles away.