Dark shadow of a Civil War massacre

A tree casts a dramatic shadow across the medieval walls of Hopton Castle, near Craven Arms, at sunrise.

Dark shadow of a Civil War massacre

The red light lasted for only a few seconds, so for me and my camera it was definitely a case of right place, right time.

This romantic ruin is said to be haunted by the ghosts of soldiers who died in the Civil War.

During that time most of Shropshire was loyal to the Crown, but Hopton was one of the few places that supported Parliament.

In 1644 an army of about 500 Royalists attacked the castle and laid siege to it. There were only 30 or so men inside, and in the end they had no option but to surrender.

As prisoners-of-war they had every right to expect honourable treatment, but instead they were put to death in what was widely condemned as a massacre.

Accounts vary as to how the men died, but some say they were hanged one at a time and their comrades forced to watch so that they would be under no illusions about the suffering that awaited them.

This disgraceful episode led to ‘Hopton Quarter’ becoming a byword for treacherous behaviour in war.

Published by Shropshire and Beyond on