The following is a true story about my visit to Shrewsbury Castle, England.
“Are you sure you feel up to this?” I glanced over at my husband. He still looked a little green from his all-nighter with his cousin.
“I’m sure. Besides, we still have almost two hours before the next train. You won’t want to sit on the platform – there’s nothing to see or do there.”
“K,” I said with a shrug. I had given up trying to explain that I had no problems reading on my vacation – this new book on my kindle was dangerously addictive. Then again, I guess flying halfway across the world to read does sound a bit ridiculous.
As we walked up what could only be described as a driveway – despite its lack of cars, my eye was once again caught by the black and white house outside the gates. I wondered if it had once been a gatehouse for the castle or if it was just lucky placement. Either way, the building was pretty impressive – tall and stately, with the characteristic light plaster and dark wood supports. I honestly hadn’t appreciated that style of architecture until my husband kept pointing them out. Granted, when he told me that the building style was popular in the 12th century, my imagination was pretty much caught. There was just something about buildings that were older than the US that just captivated me. I wondered if that made me a typical American.
As we reached the wall surrounding the castle, I was starting to get bored again. The brick looked ancient, sure, but it reminded me of every other castle ruin I’d seen. Walking through the archway, I thought wistfully about the kindle in my purse – then I caught my first look at Shrewsbury Castle. My mind literally went blank for five minutes before my imagination exploded.
It. Was. Perfect. The castle was fully intact, standing proud without any immediate sign of the ravages of time it must have endured. I craned my neck back, taking in the red brick, arched windows that spanned the center of the building, the more ordinary three-paned rectangular windows that ran above them, and the notched design of the roof that just screamed castle. Before I knew it, I was trying to envision which of the two arched doorways would have been the main entrance – surely Marius would think the one at the top of the stairs was more impressive. The lower one would be for servants. What would he use the towers for? Bedrooms? A library? Because this – this – was Marius’s palace.
My eyes flicked over the building, mentally fixing the slight flaws it posed. The castle was a bit smaller than I would have liked, of course, but there was no reason it couldn’t be one wing of Marius’s palace. A part of my brain immediately seized on the puzzle of how to link three or four of these gorgeous dwellings together without having to move the doors or demolish towers. Would there be a central courtyard, maybe? The rest of my brain tried to picture the castle built of light grey stone – the brick wasn’t quite right. But a light grey granite … that would be lovely.
When my mind finally started to wind down enough to grasp reality, I was a little sad to realize the interior of the castle was closed. I would have killed for the chance to look inside – but then again, not knowing would allow my imagination full reign. At least the grounds were breathtaking. I drank in the sight of rolling green lawns, the tastefully placed garden beds, all encircled by that outer wall. What did they call a wall like that technically? A curtain? I hadn’t given it much thought before, but Marius would want some sort of boundary to show where his property ended. It was just something he would do.
Shrewsbury Castle had one more surprise in store for me. One of the pathways winded up the side of a hill, leading to a narrow staircase and a glimpse of yet another tower. Eager to see what other ideas I could use, I sprinted up the steps and found myself on a large raised section that connected with the outer wall. The tower sat in the corner of the platform, but it was the view past the railing that truly captivated me. As I stared out at the city of Shrewsbury that surrounded me, with wooded hills in the distance and the river Severn glinting to my left, I was struck with the realization that I had found my Myrillia.
Now here’s a few pictures of my castle! What do you think? Did my description do it justice? How would you describe it differently?
(Disclaimer – sorry for the horrible iPhone photos. Again, this gem caught me a bit by surprise, so I hadn’t told my husband to bring the nice camera.)