Langley Gatehouse

Near Acton Burnell, Shropshire

Overview

This beautiful timber-framed gatehouse was built in about 1610 in the best local tradition. On one side, the Gatehouse has views to the Wrekin. A couple of fields over in the other direction, all by itself, stands a tiny early 17th-century chapel.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • Waitrose DeliveryWaitrose Delivery

Beds 2 Twin 1 Double

Sleeps
4 +2
4 nights from
£382 equivalent to £15.92 per person, per night

Perfect for stargazing

The stargazing in this part of deepest Shropshire is second to none. Like all the best buildings this one is a little hard to find but is worth it when you succeed. The gatehouse lies between the lovely historic towns of Ludlow and Shrewsbury. It is one of history’s conundrums that this part of Shropshire saw the birth of the Industrial Revolution but remains deep, blissful countryside.

The Gatehouse was near to collapse when, as a joint operation with English Heritage, we began work on it in 1992 – indeed its north-east corner post appeared to be supported solely by a wine bottle wedged beneath its decayed foot. The exemplary quality of the repairs is a pleasure to see, as is the view from the main windows down a wide valley to the Wrekin.

‘We enjoyed being so close to the farm - tractors and cattle sounds reminding us we were away from home!’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Langley Gatehouse, once the gatehouse to Langley Hall, sits beside a number of farm buildings and enjoys views down a wide valley to the Wrekin from the main windows.

The area surrounding Langley Gatehouse is full of beautiful heritage sites to visit. Acton Burnell Castle is an atmospheric semi-fortified tower house built between 1284-93, and Stokesay Castle  is a stunning Medieval manor set on the Welsh border. You can enjoy fantastic walks around the moat and gardens. 

Ludlow is a lively market town with over 900 years of history. Be sure not to miss the food and drink festival every September. 

Enjoy stunning views at Wenlock Edge, and visit Wenlock Priory, a beautiful Anglo-Saxon Monastery founded in 680. 

The Wrekin is considered "the spiritual heart of Shropshire" and it has been suggested to be inspiration for Tolkein's Middle Earth. Today, you can enjoy the lovely landscape and walks in this unique area. 

In Shrewsbury (10 miles), there is the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, with galleries dedicated to prehistoric and Roman artefacts, the medieval and Tudor period, and the political and religious turmoil of the Stuart era. Also, at Ironbridge (12 miles) – described as ‘the birthplace of industry’ – there is a collection of award-winning museums focussed on the Industrial Revolution and how it shaped the local area. You can gain free entry to all of these with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

For more information on things to see and do during your visit to Langley Gatehouse, take a look at our Pinterest Page

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Langley Gatehouse
Near Acton Burnell, Shropshire
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Shrewsbury – 9 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes – there are two parking spaces about 15m from the entrance.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and a coal burning stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Coal may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, both with baths.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are not steep.
  • Does this Landmark have low headroom?

    Yes, there are low beams and doorways in the Gatehouse.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an enclosed garden.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
History

Built to protect the entrance to Langley Hall

Langley Gatehouse now overlooks a farmyard on one side and a meadow on the other. It was built, however, to protect the entrance to Langley Hall, a rambling house of varied date which was demolished in the 1870s. At the same time, a new farmhouse was built outside the once walled and moated enclosure. The origins of Langley Hall were medieval, as its defences show. These are visible as earthworks south and east of the site, which are possible remnants of a moat, and in the Gatehouse itself. The lower part of its west wall, and the gate arch, belong to a curtain wall of about 1300, which runs on a short way north.

Langley at that time belonged to the Burnells, after whom the neighbouring village and castle of Acton Burnell are named. By 1400, however, Langley had passed by marriage to the Lees, whose main seat it became. In 1591, it was inherited by Humphrey Lee, who besides being Sheriff of Shropshire in 1600 was made a baronet by James I in 1620. He enlarged the Hall and the chapel, and it is now clear that he did the same for the Gatehouse in about 1610.

Some doubts have been raised in the last few years as to whether the Gatehouse was built in several phases, with front and back being of different periods and whether its northern third was also a later addition. While building work was in progress in 1992, however, the Hereford Archaeology Unit made a detailed survey of the Gatehouse, and dendro-dating was done on samples from several of the main timbers. These confirmed that the whole upper part of the building, front and back, with the section north of the gate arch, were all built at one time.

On top of an earlier, possibly single-storied building, Sir Humphrey added what amounts to a small house, a late flourish in a tradition of grand pseudo-defensive entrances that began in the late Middle Ages. Inside the Gatehouse, the rooms on the first floor were of good quality, warmed by fires, so they were almost certainly for living in, either by an officer of the household such as the Steward, or by important guests.

Sir Humphrey's son, Sir Richard, had no son so on his death Langley was inherited by one of his daughters who was married to Edward Smythe. The Smythes lived at Langley for a time, but by 1700 had moved to Acton Burnell. Langley Hall itself became a farmhouse and was eventually pulled down. The Gatehouse was used for storage and perhaps as a dormitory for farm servants.

In this state it survived into this century, occasionally repaired and altered in small ways to suit some new need, but slowly growing ever more derelict. From this state it was rescued in 1978 by the Department of the Environment, which proposed to take the Gatehouse into guardianship, and erected scaffolding around it. Before more than minor repairs had been carried out, however, work stopped due to a change in government policy on guardianship monuments. The Department's successor, English Heritage, was still keen to secure the future of the Gatehouse but how to do this was unclear.

Then, in 1986, English Heritage approached the Landmark Trust with a proposal for a joint scheme to repair the building and provide it with a new use. After lengthy negotiations between all the parties concerned, including the Langley estate, Treasure & Son started work in January 1992, under the supervision of the architect Andrew Thomas. The Gatehouse was furnished in July 1993 and has been let for holidays ever since.

To read more about the history of Langley Gatehouse please click here.

Restoration

Supported by an ancient wine bottle

When building work started in 1992 the scaffolding, which had been put up in the 1970s, was itself something of an ancient monument and was highly unsafe. The first job was therefore to dismantle this and replace it with something more substantial. Props had already been inserted to hold up the plaster ceiling in the central parlour but further props were now added to hold up the northern end where it had been weakened by the removal of part of the ground floor front wall.

This was all the more urgent when it was discovered that the whole north east corner was supported by an ancient wine bottle wedged beneath the worn out foot of the corner post.

The load on the walls was greatly reduced when the stone slates were stripped off the roof. These slates are one of the best features of Langley and come from Harnage, near Shrewsbury, a sandstone with a lot of fossil material. The quarry closed long ago but fortunately Treasures had a supply of second hand ones to make up for those that were broken or missing. Once the slates had been stripped the roof structure itself was patched and repaired before the slates were refixed. They are graded by size with the largest at the bottom and round the gables they form 'swept' valleys, curving round the angle without a break. There are no gutters as the deep eaves shed water away from the walls beneath.

Meanwhile much activity had been going on below. The west front was repointed with a new mortar of lime and sand to match the old. A moment of drama was provided when part of the medieval wall collapsed leaving a hole the size of a man. The west windows, which had been bricked up since the 18th century, were unblocked and reglazed. Finally the great oak doors were fitted, based on those that can be seen in old watercolours.

The repair of the east front had its exciting moments too. The plan was for the whole structure to function properly again, but before this could happen, the sagging framework had to be brought back to its true level. Only then would each post, rail and brace work together in mutual support. The frame at the north end had sunk by about ten inches and had to be carefully jacked up again, a slow and nerve-wracking business calmly masterminded by the foreman Mervyn Higgins. Before work started detailed drawings of the frame had been made, giving each timber a number, to match a list of repairs for each. Some needed new ends, some a piece in the middle, others were missing completely. Seasoned oak was used for small repairs, but where a major timber had to be renewed, green oak was used, as it would have been originally.

Where possible the frame was repaired without dismantling it. In this case the infill panels, whether early lath and plaster or later brick, were simply repaired. Where there was no infill, or brick had to come out to allow repair of the surrounding frame, it was replaced in new lath and plaster. The building thus retains the evidence of its chequered past.

A new window was inserted to light the parlour over the gate passage. There had been a window here originally, but this whole section was later rebuilt. New windows were also inserted in the south end, to light the kitchen and bathroom above. Inside, a new stair has been inserted, cleverly designed to fit the rather narrow space available to it. It seems that the original builders gave themselves more room by allowing the partition to the first floor bedroom to divide the west window in two, but we felt it was better undivided.

The parlour was originally panelled and now is again and its plaster cornice has been repaired. The floors, where they existed, have also been repaired. In the kitchen and the attics, however, they were missing entirely and here new boards have been fitted. The rooms have all been furnished and decorated in a plain and simple manner for the important guests who now occupy them.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.