A Stay At Upton Cressett Gatehouse, Shropshire

A Stay At Upton Cressett Gatehouse, Shropshire

Author: Andy Shield

As I rest, idle,
in this four-poster bed
with its gilded scrolls and golden drapery,
I look towards a leaded window,
across early-Autumn hues and
the sunlit chill of October.

The trees shiver akin to old friends
awkwardly discussing the impending Winter.
While a crisp afternoon light lifts the buoyant foliage
towards a shimmer of diamond tints.

Below the window, set into 500 year old masonry, a Victorian writing desk stands quietly. Sir John Betjeman stayed here. Perhaps constructing a few lines on old England, while supping Earl Grey. I imagine him balancing a half-eaten digestive on the edge of a saucer. Crumbs scattering the leather table top. Shirt untucked.

It’s no surprise that so many found inspiration in this noble gatehouse. It welcomes you, clutches your hand, sits you down and regales its stories. It’s a silent host, yet communicates more through its fabric than a grandfather at Christmas. If it could extend an arm, you’d be warmly furnished with a single malt from a secret drinks cabinet hiding behind a sunken armchair.

Downstairs, on the first floor, the lounge invites you to gaze upon its 16th-century plasterwork - a Tudor Rose, a portcullis, the Beaufort feathers, all raised in white. They straddle the ceiling, perfectly wonky, as they have done throughout the centuries.

The settee, a comfy country house addition, looks towards an imposing Tudor fireplace that once warmed the aching boots of Royalist cavaliers. You feel them here, bubbling over with nerves before the battle of Bridgnorth. Prince Rupert hid within these walls.

Since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, these proud octagonal towers have weathered every storm. They’ve stood unflinching in the face of elemental forces, grounded in the earth like nature itself. These beasts of timber and brick have radiated their quiet power over an agricultural landscape lifted with birdsong. Yet, like an archetypal family hound, they’ve remained entirely faithful to their impressive list of owners.

This place brings you home.

For there’s no greater mercy
than the sense of permanency.
The guarantee that you belong, here,
like always,
in Merry Old England.

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