In the Myddle of a Mystery

The Castle remains at Myddle in Shropshire

The Castle remains at Myddle in Shropshire

I have been back to the remains of the castle and spent a fabulous afternoon with Val and Dave from Castle Farm at Myddle. Val has lived on the farm most of her life and has consequently kept an archive of records, magazine cuttings, photos and illustrations of the castle ruins which she very kindly allowed me access to.

My plan is to rebuild the castle in computer graphics for a documentary about the ruffian who last resided there and in order to that I need as many references as possible to the look and size of the original building. My friend Stephen Smart, an experienced CG expert is going to do the main graphics construction as not only does he have a better understanding of architectural concepts, he is a hell of a lot more disciplined in this department than I. But what we both need is a ground plan, a few side views and a sense of dimensions.

My second visit to the site was to wade through the archive and see if anything there might lead us to either more information about its history or a better understanding of the size and shape of the building. Unfortunately, there seems to be little on the illustration front in the way of historic sketches. The main problem is that the castle was abandoned in the early reign of King Henry Viii and have been slowly tumbling to bits for the last 600 years.

One can imagine that once deserted by the owner, the locals would have started spiriting away the fallen masonry and timber to make use in their own buildings. The small village is awash with red sandstone blocks which either came from the old castle walls or possibly from the local quarry only half a mile away.

Down the lane from Myddle to the east is a hamlet called Myddlewood that Val informed me was at one time a very densely wooded area with a tiny community of poor, probably originally squatters living on the estate after and during the enclosure acts. It s not hard to imagine perhaps a wise old hag in a hovel mixing her herbs and medical compounds and coming down to the castle at night to invoke the spirits in the moonlight in and around the craggy remains.

Richard Gough, who wrote the earliest description extant of Myddle Castle in 1700, lived about a mile or two away and as a young man it is not hard to conjure up images of him and his friends sneaking into the ruins, which were much more substantial with a young lady or two for romantic liaisons.

There are many conundrums to solve from the surviving masonry. The surviving buildings suggest one being an exterior wall by the way they have been dressed and the position of windows, but earlier excavation plans suggest that this was internal, regardless of such anomalies as strangely positioned buttresses. One side of the remaining staircase tower has two many doorways leading into it for no good reason. Its all very confusing.

What is brilliant though has been Val and Dave’s enthusiasm for my project and the permission to march up and down the listed building’s site and try and get a feel for the place and put the clues that we have into some kind of order.

I am very much looking forward to piecing this jigsaw together and presenting a picture of what the castle might have looked like in situ within my documentary.

March 19th, 2011 by