Wintertime Ludlow as seen from Whitcliffe
Coat of arms of Ludlow
Ludlow shown within Shropshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
Ludlow is a market town in Shropshire, England close to the Welsh border and in the Welsh Marches. It is located along the A49 road, 28 miles (45 km) south of Shrewsbury and 22 miles (35 km) north of Hereford.
The oldest part of the town is the medieval walled town, which lies within a bend of the River Teme, on its eastern bank, forming an area of 350 acres (142 ha) and centred on a small hill. Atop this hill is the site of Ludlow Castle and the market place. From there the streets slope downward to the River Teme, and northward toward the River Corve. The town is in a sheltered spot beneath the Clee Hills which are clearly visible from the town. With a population of around 10,000, Ludlow is the largest town in South Shropshire and home to the southern area committee of Shropshire Council.
Ludlow has nearly 500 listed buildings. They include some fine examples of medieval and Tudor-style half-timbered buildings including the Feathers Hotel. The parish church, St Laurence Church, is the largest in the county.
In 2006, Ludlow was winner of The Great Town Award from The Academy of Urbanism.
The placename "Lodelowe" (Welsh: Llwydlo) was in use for this site before 1138 and comes from the Old English "hlud-hlaw". At the time this section of the River Teme contained rapids, and so the hlud of Ludlow came from "the loud waters", while hlaw meant hill. Thus Ludlow meant a place on a hill by a loud river. Some time around the 12th century weirs were added along the river, taming these rapid flows. Later in the same century the larger outer bailey was added to the castle.
Though the settlement became known as Ludlow, Fouke le Fitz Waryn (a 13th-century poem) states that it was called Dinham "for a very long time". The western part of the town immediately south of the castle retains this name, and many writers assume it is Saxon in origin, and the suffix -ham occurs in Shropshire. Another alternative is that the town took its name from Josce de Dinan who controlled the town's castle in the 12th century.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2008)|
The town is close to Wales and also very close to the county border between Shropshire and Herefordshire. It was included in the latter in the Domesday Book. This strategic location invested it with importance in medieval times and its large castle remains largely intact. Ludlow Castle was the seat of the Council of Wales and the Marches and a temporary home to several holders of the title Prince of Wales, including King Edward IV and Arthur Tudor, who died there in 1502.
The site features heavily in the folk-story of Fulk FitzWarin, outlawed Lord of Whittington, Shropshire and a possible inspiration for the Robin Hood legend. Fulk is brought up in the castle of Joce De Dynan, and fights for his master against Sir Gilbert de Lacy – these battles are also the source of the story of Marion de la Bruyere, the betrayed lover whose ghost is still said to be heard crying "Goodbye, Cruel World!" as she plummets from the castle's turrets.
At the time of the Domesday Book survey Ludlow was the location of the unoccupied large Stanton Manor, a possession of Walter de Lacy. Walter's son Roger de Lacy began the construction of a castle on the crest of the hill between about 1086 and 1094, forming what is now the inner bailey. Between about 1090 and 1120, the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene was built inside the walls, and by 1130 the Great Tower was added to form the gatehouse. The castle was an important border fortification along the Welsh Marches, and played a significant role in local, regional and national conflicts such as the Owain Glyndŵr rebellion, the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.
The town also provided a useful source of income for successive Marcher Lords, based on rents, fines, and tolls. They developed the town on a regular grid pattern, although this was adapted somewhat to match the local topography. The first road was probably High Street, which formed the wide market place to the east of the castle gates. The town continued to grow, joining an old north-south road, now called Corve Street to the north and Old Street to the south. Mill Street and the wide Broad Street were added later.
The first recorded royal permission to maintain defensive town walls was given to the "men of Ludlow" in the Patent Rolls of 1233. The entry is however incomplete and atypical and was not renewed in the usual way. A murage grant was next made in 1260 and renewed regularly over the next two centuries. This time the grant was made by name to Geoffrey de Genevile, Lord of Ludlow. From this and other surviving documents it seems that the town walls and gates were in place by 1270. They were constructed about the central part of the community with four main gates and three postern gates. The castle complex continued to expand (a Great Hall, kitchen and living quarters were added) and it gained a reputation as a fortified palace. In 1306 it passed through marriage to the ambitious Earl of March, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Queen Isabella and her son, the young Edward III, were entertained at the castle in 1328.
The town prospered, and sustained population of about 2,000 for several centuries. It was a market town; market day was held on every Thursday throughout the 15th century. In particular, it served as a centre for the sale of wool and cloth. It was home to various trades, and in 1372 boasted 12 trade guilds including metalworkers, shoemakers, butchers, drapers, mercers, tailors, cooks and bakers. There were also merchants of moderate wealth in the town and especially wool merchants, such as Laurence of Ludlow, who lived at nearby Stokesay Castle. The collection and sale of wool and the manufacture of cloth continued to be the primary source of wealth until the 17th century. Drovers roads from Wales led to the town.
This prosperity is expressed in stone and stained-glass as St. Laurence's parish church. It is a wool church and the largest in Shropshire. Despite the presence of some Decorated work it is largely Perpendicular in style.
The town also contained several coaching inns such as the Old Angel on Broad Street, public houses and ale houses, leading to court records of some alcohol-induced violence and a certain reputation for excess. Several coaching inns were constructed to accommodate travellers by stagecoach and mail coach. The oldest surviving inn today is the 15th century Bull Hotel on the Bull Ring.
During the Wars of the Roses, Richard, Duke of York, seized the castle and turned it into one of his main strongholds. The Lancastrian forces captured Ludlow in 1459, but at the end of the conflict in 1461 the castle became property of the Crown and passed to Richard's son, Edward IV. The town was then incorporated as a borough. Edward set up the Council of Wales and the Marches in 1473 and sent his son, Edward, Prince of Wales, to live there, as nominal head of the Council. It was at Ludlow that the prince heard the news of his father's death and was himself proclaimed King Edward V of England.
Under Henry VII the castle continued as the headquarters of the Council of Wales and served as the administration centre for Wales and the counties along the border, the Welsh Marches. During this period, when the town served as the effective capital of Wales, it was home to many messengers of the king, various clerks and lawyers for settling legal disputes. The town also provided a winter home for local gentry, during which time they attended the Council court sessions. Henry VII also sent his heir Prince Arthur to Ludlow, where he was joined briefly by his wife Catherine of Aragon later to become wife to Henry VIII, who was living in Castle Lodge, Ludlow at the time. Ludlow Castle was therefore the site of perhaps the most controversial wedding night in English history, when Catherine's claim that the marriage was never consummated became central to the dispute concerning Henry VIII and Catherine's annulment in 1531.
After 1610, the cloth industry declined but the wealth of the town was little affected until about 1640, when the activities of the Council were suspended and the town's population promptly fell by 20%.
Eventually, the Council resumed and except for brief interludes, Ludlow continued to host the Council until 1689, when it was abolished by William and Mary. The castle then fell into decay. The structure was poorly maintained and stone was pillaged. In 1772 demolition was mooted, but it was instead decided to lease the buildings. Later still it was purchased by the Earl of Powis, and together, he and his wife directed the transformation of the castle grounds.
From 1760, the population began to undergo a significant expansion. New structures were built along the outskirts that would become slums in the 19th century and later, torn down.
In 1832 Dr Thomas Lloyd, the Ludlow doctor and amateur geologist, met Roderick Murchison at Ludford Corner to study the rocks exposed along the River Teme and on Whitcliffe, advancing Murchison's theory for a Silurian System that he was to publish in 1839. Immediately above the topmost layer of the marine rock sequence forming Murchison's Silurian period was a thin layer of dark sand containing numerous remains of early fish, especially their scales, along with plant debris, spores and microscopic mites. In contrast to the underlying sediments of the Ludlow Series which were deposited in a shallow warm sea some 400 million years ago, the Ludlow Bone Bed represents terrestrial (land) conditions and thus a fundamental change in the landscape. At the time, this was believed to be the earliest occurrence of life on land. Murchison thus took the Ludlow Bone Bed as the base of his Devonian Period, although over a century later this boundary was to be moved a little higher, the overlying rocks being ascribed to the Pridoli. The science of Geology has taken a number of local names from these studies and now applies them worldwide, in recognition of the importance of this area to scientific understanding, for example Ludlow Series and Whitcliffe Formationian. The site is now an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and still attracts international studies.
By the late 20th century, the town had seen a growth in tourism, leading to the appearance of many antique dealers, as well as art dealers and independent bookshops (now mostly gone). A long battle of words between local activists and local companies and Tesco was eventually solved when the mega retailer obtained planning permission to build a supermarket on Corve Street, but only after agreeing to conform to the architectural demands of the local council. The building is designed to follow the shape of the old town plans with a curving roof. Bodenham's, a clothing retailer, has been trading from a 600-year-old timbered building since 1860 and is one of the oldest stores in Britain.
In 2004 the council was granted funding from Advantage West Midlands to build a new Eco-Park on the outskirts of the town on the other side of the A49, with space for new "environmentally friendly" office buildings and a park & ride facility.
More construction work began in 2006 on the same section of by-pass by Bennett's development company on a much-debated piece of land on the town's fringe known as The Foldgate. The land has now been drawn up for commercial use with a petrol filling station, Travelodge hotel and pub chain pub/restaurant, opened in late 2008. The previous plans to include a number of "high-street" stores was thrown out when an independent official branded it "damaging" and "out-of-place" with the character of the old town.
||Clun, Bishop's Castle||Craven Arms, Church Stretton, Shrewsbury||Bridgnorth, Highley, Telford
West Midlands conurbation
|Brampton Bryan, Bucknell, Knighton||Cleehill, Cleobury Mortimer, Bewdley, Kidderminster|
|Presteigne, New Radnor||Ludford, Leominster, Hereford||Tenbury Wells, Bromyard, Worcester|
R. G. Conzen remarked of Ludlow "Its composite medieval town plan and a history of eight and a half centuries with several periods of considerable importance have endowed its Old Town with an historically well-stratified and richly textured landscape."
The 2001 UK census recorded 9,548 people living in Ludlow parish. A further 395 live in the neighbouring Ludford parish. In 1377, poll tax was levied against 1,172 of the parish's residents. By this measure, Ludlow was the 35th most populous town in England.
- 1971 – 7,470
- 1987 – 7,450
|Population growth in Ludlow since 1801|
|Source: A Vision of Britain through Time and the Office for National Statistics|
On 4 February 1980, the £4.7m single carriageway bypass road, which had been built to the east of the town, diverting the A49, was opened by Kenneth Clarke. This allowed heavy lorry traffic to avoid the town centre, significantly reducing noise levels and delays. The town centre was built for the era of the horse & cart and there are long running problems with motor traffic and car parking. A number of proposals have been offered to remedy these problems.
The new Ludlow Eco-Park situated on the outskirts of the town, along the A49, includes a new Park & Ride facility, with a frequent bus service to and from the town centre.
On 26 June 2007, rising flood water caused Burway Bridge in Ludlow to collapse, severing a gas main and causing 20 homes in nearby Corve Street to be evacuated. The bridge is now replaced with a new construction.
Festivals and fayres
The Ludlow Festival has been held annually since 1960, during the end of June and the start of July each year. An open area within the castle serves as the stage and backdrop for various Shakespearean plays, while a number of supporting events at various venues include classical and pop/rock concerts, varied musicians, lecture talks from public figures, and entertainers.
The Medieval Christmas Fayre is another annual event in Ludlow taking place during late November, again centred on Ludlow Castle and the market square.
Ludlow has become a gastronomic centre and at one point was the only town in England with three Michelin-starred restaurants (a distinction lost to Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire), but Ludlow still holds two Michelin starred establishments, and eight AA Rosette starred restaurants. The town hosts the prestigious annual Ludlow food festival. Ludlow is the first UK member of Cittaslow or "slow food" movement, and is at the forefront of the UK's Cittaslow slow movement network. It supports three traditional butchers, four bakers, a regular farmers market and a range of specialist food shops. The town has its own brewery, which has been producing real ale (using local hops) since 2006.
The annual Ludlow Marches Festival of Food & Drink is a food festival that takes place in and around Ludlow in September. Centred on Ludlow Castle, where over 150 local, small food producers showcase and sell their wares, the three-day event involves the town centre in food and drink trails including the famous "Sausage Trail".
The town is also home to an arts and cinema centre, The Ludlow Assembly Rooms, that hosts live music, theatre, stand up comedy and talks. It also acts as an arts community centre, has a visual arts gallery, and on most evenings, shows a film, from a wide variety of genres (including classic, arthouse, and blockbuster). Ludlow has featured in movies and TV programmes including Tom Sharpe's Blott on the Landscape and 90s TV adaptations of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling and Moll Flanders. Ludlow is described as the capital of Wales following a zombie apocalypse in the novel World War Z.
Ludlow has connections with a number of figures in the arts – most notably, Alfred Edward Housman, poet and author of "A Shropshire Lad" (his ashes buried in the graveyard of St. Laurence's Church and marked by a cherry tree). Stanley J. Weyman, the novelist known as the "Prince of Romance", was also born in Ludlow, as was sculptor Adrian Jones, whose ashes are also buried in the same churchyard. The naval historian and novelist Captain Geoffrey Bennett (Sea Lion) lived in Ludlow after his retirement in 1974 up to his death in 1983 and his ashes, too, were interred in the parish churchyard.
The actor John Challis (Boycie in Only Fools & Horses) lives near Ludlow, as did Pete Postlethwaite. The actress Holly Davidson (from Casualty and The Bill) was born locally in 1980. Hollie Robertson, winner of the BBC's Strictly Dance Fever in 2006 is also from Ludlow.
The town also has a football and rugby union team competing in the Midland leagues and a cricket team sporting its 1st and 2nd XI teams in the Shropshire Premier Cricket League and its 3rd and 4th XI in the Shropshire Cricket League Division 5 and Division 6 repspectively. The cricket pitch has a picturesque setting with the castle, church and surrounding hills and countryside clearly visible. Ludlow Racecourse and golf club are situated just off the A49 road a mile north of the town.
- La Ferté-Macé, Orne, France (since 1992)
- San Pietro in Cariano, Province of Verona, Veneto, Italy (since 1986)
Notable people associated with the town include Charles Badham, a Victorian scholar and professor at Sydney University. Sir Charles Hastings, a pioneering Victorian doctor and founder of the BMA, was born in Ludlow, and grew up in Worcestershire. Ludlow was birthplace of historian Charles Lethbridge Kingsford in 1862, when his father was headmaster at Ludlow Grammar School.
Born near the town in 1836 was John Marston, the founder of the Sunbeam racing car and motorcycle company. Also born in proximity to Ludlow was Henry Hill Hickman, a very early pioneer of anaesthetics, who was born at Lady Halton, near Bromfield in 1800. Later in the same century, in 1831, Pictorialist photographer Henry Peach Robinson was born in the town.
Captain Geoffrey Bennett DSC, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, naval officer and also a well-known author, writing novels as 'Sea Lion' and naval histories under his own name, retired to a cottage in central Ludlow in 1976, dying there in 1983.
Captain Adrian Jones M.V.O., M.R.C.V.S., F.R.B.S., the well-known sculptor. He has many works throughout the world, particularly the Peace Quadriga on the Wellington arch in London.
Sir William Jukes-Steward, later Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, had boyhood home in Ludlow, where he attended the Grammar School, at Numbers 4–5 King Street (marked by plaque).
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ludlow.|
- Geograph – photos of Ludlow and surrounding areas