Shropshire

Hopton Castle in Shropshire is restored

A Grade I listed Shropshire castle which was in danger of falling down has been restored.

Hopton Castle near Craven Arms has been a ruin since it was damaged in the Civil War and abandoned by its then owner, Robert Wallop.

The Hopton Castle Preservation Trust was formed in 2006 and raised more than £1m to refurbish the building.

The castle, which is about 700 years old, will soon be open to the public after two years of work.

Bodies in ditch

The trust bought the ruined building from a private landowner in 2008 and work began the following year.

The castle achieved notoriety in 1644 after Prince Rupert laid siege to its occupants, soldiers of the Parliamentary forces.

They held out for three weeks but when they surrendered, they were all killed and their bodies thrown into a muddy ditch.

Many local people believe the castle to be haunted by their ghosts.

The secretary of the preservation trust, Tom Baker, said the building was a house which had been made to look like a Norman castle.

It would have been surrounded by service buildings such as kitchens and a chapel.

The restoration has included work on a bridge and constructing steps up to the main castle.

English Heritage gave the trust permission to rebuild two arches, one of which leads to a spiral staircase.

Sheep graze on the castle mound.

"The sheep are necessary to keep the grass down. We would never be able to mow this, so they are very useful," he said.

Health and Safety concerns about the wooden steps at the front of the building have meant that it cannot be fully opened to public for another week.

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