About Acton Burnell Castle
Acton Burnell Castle is a ruined 13th century English fortified manor located south of Shrewsbury in Shropshire. Made up of partially-preserved red sandstone walls, the site is a picturesque shell which makes for a peaceful, atmospheric visit.
Acton Burnell Castle history
Originally built around 1284, Acton Burnell Castle belonged to Robert Burnell, a powerful local landowner and close friend of the English King, Edward I. Burnell served as Chancellor of England under Edward and was also the Bishop of Bath & Wells, nearly becoming Archbishop of Canterbury on two occasions – his keeping of a long-term mistress preventing this however.
When constructed, Acton Burnell Castle had walls standing up to 40ft high, with three-storey towers at each corner. Burnell had received a royal license to fortify his manor, something reserved only for trusted members of the king’s party.
It was clearly a well-appointed residence, as witnessed by the fact that it played host to King Edward I and his retinue on several occasions.
The adjacent great barn at Acton Burnell Castle was even used to host two meetings of the English Parliament, one of which in 1283 was the first ever law-making process to include the Commons. The law passed there regarding the protection of creditors became known as the Statute of Acton Burnell.
Acton Burnell Castle today
Today, Acton Burnell Castle lies in ruins, having been slowly abandoned through the Middle Ages and finally replaced altogether by the nearby 19th century Acton Burnell Hall.
The site is now operated by English Heritage and is open to the public, providing an intriguing walk amongst its once-grand structure. All four of its walls remain intact with doorways and stonework detailing found, and information boards around the site tell its eminent history. The nearby St Mary’s Church also dates back to the 13th century and is well worth a visit!
Getting to Acton Burnell Castle
Acton Burnell Castle is situated in Shrewsbury off the A49, and there is a small free carpark at the site. From the carpark, the castle is a short walk through a wooded area. The nearest train station is Church Stretton, a 20-minute drive, or Shrewsbury a 25-minute drive, while the 540 bus stops at the Post Office Stop, a 5-minute walk away.