The Tern Valley Trail
The modern day settlement of Charlton shows few obvious traces of the prominent position it once enjoyed in the east Shropshire community. Yet, in a field on the edge of the village, the ruins of a fortified, moated manor house, built by a distinguished 14th Century knight who served at the court of an English monarch, provide enduring evidence of the former importance of this secluded site.
The House Sir John Built
Charlton Castle was once the home of Sir John Charlton, the ‘beloved valet’ of Edward II who was appointed Governor of Ireland in 1338 and served as King’s Chamberlain. Records of a property on the site exist from at least 1174, when a house was apparently leased to the Charlton family by the abbot of Lilleshall Abbey. Sir John, who was knighted around 1307, appears to have inherited the estate at the same time his younger brother Alan succeeded to the family seat of Apley Castle, near Wellington.
In 1316, Charlton was given license by the Crown to crenellate, or fortify, the house as part of a series of improvements that may have been instigated by his wife Hawys (the daughter of Owen ap Griffith – the last Prince of Powys), to whom Charlton was married in 1311. Sir John later received permission to celebrate mass in a chapel on the site in 1341 but, by the time of his death twelve years later, Charlton Castle was said to be worth next to nothing and it seems unlikely that he spent much time there.
The Lords of Powys
Sir John accumulated many properties during his lifetime and, through his court connections, was granted possession of numerous lands and castles across Wales by royal charter. Through his marriage to Hawys, Charlton also acquired Powys Castle which he rebuilt with the distinctive red sandstone towers that still characterise the world-famous property today.
If only in name, it seems Charlton Castle continued to be used as a residence of the Lords of Powys until the 16th Century and, by 1820, all that remained of the formerly high-status property was a solitary corner tower. Sir John’s former home is still enclosed by a well-preserved, if dry, moat and an entrance causeway which leads to some well preserved foundations and walling. The remnants of a large fishpond that once served the Charlton estate and a rabbit warren, for which Sir John was granted free use in 1307, are located nearby.