Tuscany it ain't. Bridgnorth just doesn't quite have the same ring about it and neither does the name of its castle...Bridgnorth Castle. But it should be at least as famous as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
For a start, the leaning tower of Bridgnorth Castle leans more. Three times more. It looks so unstable, as if it's about to topple at any moment but I am reliably informed that the centre of mass is such that the tower will not fall. So how did this happen? What kind of castle is this?
Bridgnorth stands on a tall cliff beside the River Severn in Shropshire. More significantly, it is on the border of Wales. When William the Conqueror came to stay in 1066, the Welsh belonged to a separate country and homed the indigenous peoples of ancient Briton from pre-Roman times. So the castle was a strategic fortress (well, aren't they all) and a message that the Normans had arrived. It was built originally in 1101 by a very nasty character called Robert del Belleme. The story goes that he tortured a great many people and even gouged out the eyes of his godson with his bare fingers.
The castle was always a royalist stronghold during the several civil wars that England endured during the Middle Ages. But once Edward I made Wales a principality at the end of the thirteenth century, Bridgnorth Castle lost its significance. Until THE Civil War that resulted in the King of England losing his head.
Once again the castle was a Royalist stronghold and King Charles I proclaimed his love for the views over the River Severn. They are lovely though. This was enough to make the castle a target for the Parliamentarians who were determined to take it over and overthrow the Royalist troops who were garrisoned there. The leader of the Parliamentarians, Oliver Cromwell, ordered that the castle be demolished.
The Royalists responded by setting fire to the houses around the castle in the hope that it would force the Parliamentarians back. The fire also reached Saint Leonard's Church, which held the ammunition of Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian army. What a fireworks display there must have been that night.
The town of Bridgnorth was burnt to a crisp. On 26 April 1646 the town surrendered.
I visited Bridgnorth a few years ago. Not much remains of the castle - just a few scattered stones and broken walls. Except for the toppling tower. The views of the River Severn in the valley are simply beautiful as are the gardens that surround the ruins of the castle. It was a wonderful day out visiting the market town. There are many grand listed buildings and Tudor homes. Saint Leonard's Church has been rebuilt, there is a theatre on some steps that go down to the lower part of the town, great chips and England's oldest and steepest cliff railway.
Beat that, Tuscany.