I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mona's Musings

June 20th, 2010

A Castle Built For Two

Castle: [kas-uhl, kah-suhl] noun:
a strongly fortified, permanently garrisoned stronghold.


I will never in a million miles drive in England because I would be the certain cause of a 14 Mini pile-up on one of those jumbo round-abouts. On the other hand, with England’s public transportation system I can’t wreck anything except the sense that I am a competent person.

You know how you stare at the inside of your fridge expecting something new to appear or the contents to rearrange themselves into a casserole? That’s me, gaping at a tube map, bus schedule, or train station reader board. And I am discombobulated by harried humanity.

If it weren’t for the fact that my daughter, who is visiting us, inherited her father’s GPS genes; I would not have gone 150 miles from Reading to Shropshire without Dale; then all over the medieval towns of Shrewsbury and Ludlow, the home of my mother-in-law’s ancestors.

Walled in by Tudor and Elizabethan architecture on every cobbled lane, it was easy to imagine villagers pulling carts and noblemen steering horses through mayhem. The surreal was strongest at Ludlow Castle, whose ruins lord over a winding river and rolling green countryside.

The vista from the castle embankment is so picturesque; you would swear a master landscaper had designed it to the last hedge, grove, and cottage roof. A long line of royals and would-be royals had lived in, fought over, and defended Ludlow Castle since 1066 and as we wandered through its stone rooms, stairwells, and turrets, I began to muse how a marriage is “like unto” a castle

●“The castle has a double nature; it is both a home and a fortress…(It is) this double nature which makes the castle so different from dwellings and fortification of other periods…

●One of the things that makes castles interesting is that they are all different. Primarily this is because they were built by men of differing ranks, at different times in different regions…

●This is what makes castles so interesting, that they are both so variable and yet are built according to certain clear principles…

●No castle ever stood in isolation. It was always part of a community. Indeed, there were two communities: the one within the castle, the other surrounding it and forming its milieu…

●A castle may exist inside a town but must be able to be cut off by the closing of a gate or the raising of a drawbridge.” (The Medieval Castle In England And Wales, by N. J. G. Pounds)

Our once-in-a-lifetime week of experience in Shropshire exhilarated and exhausted me. Back at Reading Station, as we dodged the crowds and dragged our luggage, I was on the verge of tears. It was all – EVERYTHING – too much: sensory, physical overload.  Stepping onto the crowded down-escalator, I crumbled emotionally.

And then – through all the moving bodies on the floor below – I saw him: towering over the commotion; his face full of calm anticipation, riveted on mine: so solid, so sure, so still. I did of course; melt the instant I reached him. My honey is a big man, and his arms supported as much as comforted his lady-in-distress. As he kissed me I began to cry.

Here, I thought, is my fortress and defense. HERE is my very own castle.

“Love in marriage not only serves to seal up a man and a woman in a valid union, it seals out everything and everyone alien to that union.” – Rodney Turner


Rumble through the castle with our daughter, Lady Hannah.
Hang in there…ya just gotta go ALL the way to the top!


Visit Mona’s Musings on Facebook for lots more photos of the castle, Ludlow, and Shrewsbury and to receive daily hints of romance.

Hint of Romance

Be patient and vigilant in building a secure marriage; castles are constructed one stone at a time.

What did you think of this musing?

Join the discussion!


  1. Mother Smith says:

    That was so AWESOME!!! I have lots of English ancestry, so to watch the video was VERY EXCITING TO ME!!! My grandfather, who traveled all over the world, thought that perhaps ENGLAND was the most BEAUTIFUL places he ever saw…OUTSIDE the United States…Seeing the landcape…was BREATH-TAKING!!!! Thanks for sharing the moments with us…

    • Hannah says:

      Yeah, as you can tell from the video it took my breath away too!! hehe Isn’t that GORGEOUS!?! I’ve never seen anything more beautiful!

      • Karen Williams says:

        I don’t know how else to get hold of you so I can get your address in England. My daughter is getting married and I want to send you an invitation.
        Hope all is well in England!

    • mona says:

      We have thought of you soooo often — truly — every time we pass a charming, lovingly-kept “garden” (which is what they call their space of land in the front or behind a house; often very small but full of flowers) and that view was the grandest “garden” of all!!!!! So you.

  2. Heidi says:

    “Oh. My. Word.” is exactly right! That was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Having traveled Le Metro in Paris, I was grateful for the couple of times in French class when we studied the transportation system. At the time–thinking I’d never get to visit other countries–I thought it was useless information. But I totally hear you, Mona, in being overwhelmed by those things. It doesn’t even have to be in another country. Big cities do it to me all the time. SLC still has its scary moments for me!! (Love Trax though.)

    And thank you so much for the castle analogy. I love it. So I suppose I’m just busy building my foundation for my one-day fabulously breath-taking marriage while future hubby is working on it, too. Can’t wait until we meet along the way and finish the foundation together to build the rest, one stone at a time. :-) I’m also glad that you have your very own castle–you deserve him!

    • ButMadNNW says:

      Now me, I love the public transit of London and Paris. :) It took me only a day or two to learn how to read a London Underground map, and every time I return, it’s like slipping back into a comfortable coat that I love but haven’t had an opportunity to wear in a while.

    • mona says:

      Now there’s an idea come to late! I should have been studying the transportation system all this time – I might have got the Reading-Paddington run down after 6 months prep. Heidi – thank you once more for attesting to the value of preparation. Though I was married young, we did not have children right away, and I am so thankful for the preparation time I was granted and put to use in earnest: reading, observing, asking questions, making notes, visualizing. You will be getting your hands dirty in the “lab” soon enough and have a much better chance of an “A” grade for your attitude of preparation.

  3. Sue Simper says:

    Great analogy! These days there are lots of things that have a direct feed into our castles (TV, internet, video games, etc.) They’re harder to see for what they are, and the tole they take is gradual. Even when the “drawbridge is up” it’s hard to keep the distractions out. I’m not saying it’s all bad, for sure, just something we’ve noticed takes great care to protect against when it comes to constructing our own fortress. Thanks for a great post!

    Hannah – did we detect a slight British accent in the castle tour? Love you!!! Thanks for climbing all those stairs so we could enjoy the view!

    • mona says:

      Thank you Sue, for seriously addressing the seriousness of what I was trying to say. That is it precisely. We vowed on our wedding day to cherish and protect each other — from our own worst selves AND from the world that would “distract” from and assault that commitment with less successful, more selfish approaches than the old tried and true. You bring up a big potential enemy: time and content on TV and internet.

    • Hannah says:

      Love your comment Sue! Yes, there are so many distractions and it’s up to us to be on alert. And it makes us MORE happy when we have a strong castle.

      And hahaha, yes, I’ve been practicing my British accent. We’ll see how it is when I get home. :) Love you!!!!

  4. Kara says:

    I love the parallel drawn between the castle and our marriage Mona. How fitting. These past few months we’ve built much stronger walls and fortified our “defenses” as you might say, in our marriage. For example we watched the movie “Iron Man” with some family last week that brought the movie. We fast forwarded past a few parts and no one objected. Then right at the end of the movie a “Black Sabbath” songs starts blaring out of our Bose speakers. Josh quickly hit the mute button to silence the horrible music. But a member of our family was upset that we wouldn’t play the music. Josh quietly said he didn’t want that playing in his home. But the demand to play the music intesified and nearly came to a fight. We then explained that this is one of the ways we have fortified our home to help the spirit abide here. It is wonderful to me as we build up our defenses in our home our marriage and union grows stronger as the spirit is more readily found to bless and nurture!

    • mona says:

      Your unity under pressure is impressive! Every couple needs to talk about and agree upon values and standards for their own home and then work together to uphold them – that is such a big part of what makes a strong castle.

  5. Amber says:

    love this.

  6. Belinda says:

    I thought the surrounding views were beautiful. It completely took my breath away. The steps leading up to the top were so narrow, I too wonder how they ran up them. I think they must’ve had small feet in the old days.

    I also want to work on my relationship on stone at a time.

    • mona says:

      Hannah did in one brief shot, showing the size of her shoe against the stair and I think we can affirm that YES! Knights in shining amour were diminutive compared to our guys today. And that is the key my friend — ONE stone at a time – one day, one hour, one interaction, one conversation at a time…GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME.

  7. Sara Lyn says:

    I absolutely agree with Sue. I loved your analogies about the castle and how perfectly they fit within marriage. Morgan and I have had a lot of time building our castle, but we have (after lots of thought) been building it in circumstances that are somewhat trying. It’s nice to have a building partner though. We are both grateful for that. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the video. Love you.

    • mona says:

      Sara Lyn, circumstance and priorities DO affect the building of a castle — and those change constantly throughout marriage. We can always feel when a change is imminent: when its time to rearrange our blueprints. That’s all part of the process.

  8. Bri Z. says:

    I like you hint of romance the best in this post. When you first marry, it seems you’re jumping at the seems to build that castle. If you were careful you’ve built a very solid foundation. Both of you worked hard on yourselves before you met. You’ve carefully placed the corner stone and given that castle something sturdy to sit on. But you might come with different ideas for a floor plan or ideas of what a castle is really like and what it needs. Sometimes the day is hot and musty and lifting stones to build a castle just doesn’t seem worth the effort. But when you get to the top, when you finally finish the gorgeous edifice and see what you can from there, it’ll be “Oh. My. Word” breathtaking. (Even along the way, you get to a turret and have to try to catch your breath for the beauty). Others who visit your castle and see what you’ve created will be astounded and blessed by the experience. You’ll leave a legacy behind for generations to defend and appreciate. Thank you for the beautiful analogy.

    Hiking around Zions for us this weekend was a castle-building experience. Every time one of us was scared, the other would encourage us. When the rock was too tall, Grant would climb up first and pull me up. When the water was too deep to see what was lurking beneath, he would walk in front, leading the way and telling me where to step. When that ladder looked a little unsturdy I lept ahead, showing Grant it was safe while he lingered cautiously below me, waiting to catch me if I fell. Each gorgeous view and the enthusiasm we felt standing hand in hand and viewing these amazing witnesses of a Grand Designer strengthened us. We knew there was a Grand Designer guiding us in creating our own castle. We can’t build it without Him.

    • mona says:

      Gorgeous, detailed exposition on the theme and symbolism Bri! Thank you so much for opening MY mind and I’m sure many others to the “bigger picture” and for sharing such a real and immediate example in your own life. I hope you will write about it (the hike analogy) on Bri Colorful!

    • Heidi says:

      Bri–you have such a beautiful gift with words!

  9. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for this musing. I loved it. I have always been fascinated by the old castles…and to think that I am building one right here, one stone at a time, my marriage, what a great image. I can’t wait to see the view as we grow in our marriage. (Grown children, Grandchildren, Missions, who knows the beauties that will be built)

    I stopped reading your posts when you moved…silly me. You are such a wise women and I love your inspiration and your thoughts. I will be thinking of this one for the rest of the week.

    My husband comes home from a trip from Switzerland this Thurs. and I will probably feel the same way as I get him from the airport. I miss him dearly…my king in our castle…I just hope I don’t cry.

    Thanks again,

    • mona says:

      Cynthia, as you’ve probably picked up, Dale’s been traveling for fifteen years, and I relish his homecomings with an intensity that pleases him and amuses everyone else. Don’t hold back the tears, kisses, and everything else! Keep him coming home to build your castle.

  10. Sarah says:

    I remember carefully planning out blueprints for a future castle. I remember thinking it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone who had the same castle in mind. In one fashion or another, blueprints would be unveiled and wouldn’t line up as well as I hoped. What a SHOCK when I found someone who not only had similar plans, but found great ways to improve mine. SO FUN to sit down and plan a castle (a MARRIAGE), to get in the nitty gritty details with one another and watch how they work! I LOVE to build with my sweetheart!
    This was so beautiful!

    • mona says:

      This whole blueprint idea is one that never even crossed my mind — which just goes to show how valuable my commentators are and how well you all expound on a thesis! What you say here is so true — selecting a marriage partner should be a matter of “lining up” your blueprints, but also being open to another person “improving” yours! Excellent!

  11. maritza ardila- perez says:

    It’s incredible!

  12. David says:

    I thought Princess Hanah’s gasp at the top said it all. What a view!

    I spent 18 months in similar English and Roman castles on most p days during my mission.

    It was amazing to see the architectural differences, but nearly all had the small round steps on the spiral stair cases, from what I remember anyway.

    • mona says:

      Don’t you love that video? It does say it all doesn’t it? I found a passage in “The Remains of the Day” a couple of weeks ago that describes the English countryside so beautifully and sent it to Hannah. I’ll have to use it at Musings soon.

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