Acton Burnell – Castle Review

Built:  Built between 1284 and 1293

Location: Acton Burnell Castle, Acton Burnell SY5 7PF

History: The Burnell family of Acton Burnell held land in Shropshire from the 1180s, though it was a century later that Robert Burnell came to prominence. Entering royal service as a clerk to Henry III’s son Prince Edward, he rose to become Chancellor of England and Bishop of Bath and Wells when the prince acceded to the throne as Edward I in 1272.

The king’s military campaigns in Wales frequently brought him to Shropshire, and he stayed at Acton. His visit in 1283 assumed national significance when he held a parliament, according to tradition, in the tithe barn here. This was supposedly the first at which commoners were represented.

In 1284 Robert Burnell obtained a licence from the king to fortify his residence. Work was probably still in progress when Robert died in 1292. The large first-floor windows of the castle suggest, however, that it never had a serious defensive purpose and that it was instead perhaps designed to impress. Evidence of Robert’s building zeal may also be seen in the adjacent church, a fine example of Early English architecture. Burnell’s wealth and his position as bishop enabled him to employ the best masons.

By 1420, however, the castle was abandoned. It was allowed to decay while a new house, Acton Burnell Hall (not in the care of English Heritage), was built next to it in the 18th century. Thus saved from later alterations, the castle remains an impressive example of a medieval fortified manor house.

Review: So this is actually a thirteenth century fortified manor house. It’s a small site, it’s quaint, it’s actually quite a stunning ruin.

First off, to get to it. My dad and I missed the turn off from the main road, but luckily there was another lane just a little bit down the way which we could take to get back on track. To be honest it was probably a really good thing that this happened because the lane that we went down had two gorgeous houses (they looked rather amazing to be honest). So that was quite a nice little surprise.

This place is great to visit. But you kind of need to be in the area for it – it’s really not worth making a day trip out of it. HOWEVER, there is a way to get around this dilemma. I know because this is what I did.

Ludlow castle is nearby (you can find the link for my review of Ludlow Castle at the bottom of the page). So if you do Ludlow Castle first and then Acton Burnell, you’ll have the perfect day trip.

Acton Burnell is literally just the outer building that is left over from it’s good days.

It’s completely free which is a bonus and there is a really nice Church to the side of it (with two bone yards – one is Catholic and one is Protestant – which just makes it a little different).

You also have a very nice (but very small), forest area before you get to the castle. I say forest, but that is probably not the right word. It’s more like a little area of trees.

It won’t take you more than an hour to look round here, but I did find it quite enjoyable and it’s something different to going to the big famous castles, that are always full of people. So this place is great if you want a bit of quiet time.

The only down side is that some of the signs are a bit destroyed, as in the descriptions written on them are non-existant which is a shame because I think that there is a lot of history that happened here.

If you are ever in the area I really do suggest that you give this place a moment of your time – it’s something different and something which you should see.


Ludlow Castle Review:


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