Moreton Corbet Castle
Moreton Corbet Castle is a magnificent and unusual, ornate ruin that is, disturbingly atmospheric. It is one of the most exciting places to visit in Shropshire, with the ruins looking like the setting for the most romantic melodrama.
Set within the village of Moreton Corbet near Shawbury, the castle at Moreton Toret, as the site was then known, was built by Bartholomew Torret following the Norman conquest in 1066 in the 11th Century.
In approximately 1239 the Corbet family acquired Moreton Toret through marriage and built a stone castle on the site.
The remains of the keep (1200) and gatehouse are merged with a later Elizabethan manor house that was added by Sir Andrew Corbet, the design of which Corbet is reputed to have been brought back from Italy, but who died before its completion.
During the reign of King James the 1st, Sir Vincent Corbet continued the building work. At the time the King was persecuting the Puritans and Sir Vincent took in his neighbor, a Puritan named Paul Holmyard.
However, the Puritans ideals became increasingly fanatical and Corbet asked Holmyard to leave. Holmyard hid in the nearby woods, eating whatever he find. One day he left the woods and approached Morton Corbet, where he cursed the Corbet family so that the building would never be finished.
It seems the curse has been fulfilled as this flamboyant and ambitious project was never finished and although the house and castle changed hands four times during the Civil War, the building remains unfinished and incomplete, with little surviving inside, except a large decorated fireplace.
It was during the civil War that Sir Vincent Corbet fortified the house in support of King Charles I and had a force of 110 men. However, following a trick in the middle of the night by ten Parliamentarian troops, the Royalist force at Morton Corbet surrendered.
As the Parliamentarians left, they burned down the castle. What remains you see today have triumphed over siege, damage, fire, decay and Oliver Cromwell.
Rumour has it that the ghostly spirit of Paul Holmyard stalks Morton Corbet's walls, ensuring that no building work goes on.
Nearby is St. Bartholemew's church, which contains some fine tombs of the Corbet family and which is also worth a visit. Betjeman wrote..."in May, when we visited it, there seemed to be enough cowslips, oxslips, primroses and violets and wood anemones about to decorate all the churches of the diocese."
Take the A53 north-east from Shrewsbury to centre of Shawbury, and follow signs to the castle on the B5063.