The ending of a chapter in the history of Wilton Castle in Ross-on-Wye

By Ross Gazette sports reporter   |   Sport reporter   |
Wednesday 8th June 2016 8:34 am
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• Alan and Sue Parslow in the grounds of Wilton Castle

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Over the past 15 years Alan and Sue Parslow have lavished love, time and money on the former ruined castle at Wilton, which, for many years, featured on the ‘At risk’ register. Now though, the Parslows have decided that they have done all they can to ensure the castle has once again been restored to its rightful place as one of the iconic sights in Ross-on-Wye. They have reluctantly put the castle up for sale but are not in a rush to sell. They have plans to travel more but also want to ensure the castle is passed on to someone who will continue to make the best possible use of it.

Although there were various attempts over the years to restore the castle it was a mammoth project which was only completed thanks to the Parslows working in partnership with English Heritage. In return the castle has to be opened to allow English Heritage members to see where their money has been spent 28 days a year.

The Parslows though, have frequently opened the Castle gardens more often than that. They have sold refreshments, organised charity functions and the tower is licensed for weddings. These events are something a new owner could develop if they wished.

Sue told the Ross Gazette that it is a perfect place for couples to exchange their vows as this is ‘the most romantic castle’. She said: “It is quite different from other ruined castles as it is really a garden around a castle.” She said that this is why so many people come to visit, painters, photographers as well a gardeners want to soak up the unique atmosphere, smell the wonderful old English roses which climb the castle walls and just dream for a short while of being a prince or princess with their own tower and moat.

Wilton Castle is a Grade I Scheduled Ancient Monument that has been lovingly restored. The Castle originally had a gate house and five towers in the rampart walls which was surrounded by a wet moat. Three towers remain and two have been restored. The Great Tower, which is connected to the house, would make an amazing restoration project. This was the tower used by the Lord and Lady of the Manor and although connected to the House it has no roof and parts of the walls are missing.

Alan explained that although they have put the castle up for sale they really do not want to leave. He said:?“It takes a lot of time and hard work to keep the gardens maintained.” He usually starts work in the gardens at about 6am most days. He said the restored sections of the castle are quite secure and do not need much work now, but he feels that the castle needs a new owner to take on the next stage of its journey, He said that the Great Tower should be the next project, he would like to see the roof restored and to make it truly part of the house.

The five bedroomed Castle House has been skilfully restored. It has sections built in Norman, Tudor, Elizabethan and Georgian times and within the Mediaeval Castle walls lies the romantic ruins of a Tudor Manor House with roses climbing through mullion windows. This was built in the 16thC and was subsequently destroyed in the Civil War.

A private gated driveway leads to extensive parking areas along with stables and visitor facilities. Although it is very close to the A40 this is a blessing as it is easy to get to Wilton and there is very easy access to major roads.

Wilton Castle was built in the 12th C to guard the river crossing on the English border with Wales. The castle was, for 300 years, a garrison for soldiers enabling them to keep an eye on the local population and prevent the Welsh from stealing land and animals. Originally a Mott and Bailey Castle this was gradually rebuilt with a stone castle and a wet moat.

Guys Hospital purchased the Wilton Manor and Castle in 1731 and for 230 years farmed the area with tenants living in the Castle House. Since 1961 the castle has been in private hands.

Wilton Castle has been placed on the market with Roscoe, Rogers and Knight at £1,495,000.

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