Castles and Chapels and Sheep! O My!

The National Trust and English Heritage are associations that preserve and protect historic buildings, coastline and countryside. Various membership options are available for each, with discounted rates offered for students and seniors. When you arrive in a country with only the luggage you can carry, joining either wasn’t our first priority. Certainly re-establishing our lives and buying the basics like mattresses, sheets, and towels took precedence, but after an incredibly cold winter, yielding a self-induced state of hibernation…we seriously needed to get out of the house. Stephen opted to join English Heritage, which gives you unlimited access to over 400 historic places…including Harrison’s favorite…Stonehenge.

If it were up to me, I would head out for adventures the moment Stephen walked in the door each evening and would rise before the crack of dawn on the weekends. My family is a little less enthusiastic in regards to sightseeing, but thankfully, they indulge me. 

With a country teeming with quaint villages, seaside towns and historical buildings, there are a million things to see and do. If last year is any indication, we’ve got less than 6 months before the dreaded game of hide-and-seek with the sun kicks off again, so we’ve set about learning more about this new place we call home.

Witley Court and Gardens

Our first adventure, after joining English Heritage, was to Witley Court and Gardens. I’ve never much cared for traditional walking tours. While others jockey for position at the front of the pack, I seem to find myself at the back of the herd just out of earshot. I can see their mouths moving but miss all the interesting tidbits. However, at some of the popular sites within English Heritage, audio tours are available, which allow you to stroll around at your own pace so you never miss a thing.

Stephen seems to have a penchant for panoramic photos. He gives no warning, he just starts shooting. As he pans, we suddenly realize we’re about to be unexpectedly immortalized so bodies begin to plummet. It has to look crazy. The British are sitting peacefully on their picnic blankets looking ever so quaint, while the American’s are dive bombing.

A short walk from Witley Court, the Parish Church was built between 1732 and 1735 by the Foley family and contains an organ that was originally built for the composer G.F. Handel.

It would appear the church door was built to accommodate Goliath...or...the Jolly Green Giant.

Stafford Castle

Stafford Castle was constructed in the late 11th century and is considered to be one of the best surviving examples of Norman earthworks in the country.

Stafford Castle close up April 22 2018.jpg

Matthew loves the public footpaths because there is an adventure around every corner. The path from the castle to the church involves a quick detour over the local golf course, passing through the kissing gates, and wandering down a narrow lane before arriving at the church gate. 

Castle Church

Shrewsbury

Currently voted the 8th happiest place to live in the UK, it's a lovely town with charming alleyways everywhere you look.

Matthew and I even found the perfect size door for us at a local art gallery.

Shoe shopping for a teenage boy turned out to be a bit more time consuming than we had planned so we popped in for a Thai lunch on the river while overlooking a local cricket match.  

With matches typically being played over three to five days with at least 6 hours of cricket being played each day, it appears that some of the friends and family opted to tan rather than cheer on their loved ones.

In a town steeped in history, it’s easy to find quaint things around every corner...even a vintage bus.

Langley Chapel

Easily my favorite chapel so far. Tucked away in the countryside, the skeleton key hangs from a spool for you to unlock when you arrive. 

The interior of the chapel shows how Anglican churches were arranged in the early seventeenth century, with box pews, a desk for musicians at the back and bench seats around the communion table for use during the sacrament.

The sheep in the neighboring field welcome you as you pull up to the chapel, which was last roofed in 1601.

It’s interesting how intrigued my kiddos are by spiders outside. However, let them cross the threshold of our house, and it's an entirely different matter!

Stokesay Castle was constructed at the end of the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England. With a Great Hall that has been unchanged for over 700 years and towers to climb, it's a great way to experience what medieval life was like. You can even give archery a go!