Ludlow is an attractive English border town, dominated by its magnificent ruined castle dramatically sited on a bluff above the River Teme. Once a thriving wool centre, much of its medieval layout has been well preserved, hosting a generous mix of timber-framed and Georgian architecture. It has over 400 listed buildings, including the lovely stone arched Dinham Bridge (1823), shown below.
Dinham Bridge over the River Teme at Ludlow © Mat Fascione
The River Teme runs noisily over a shallow pebble bed below the castle, giving the town its old English name of lude meaning 'loud' or 'roaring' and law meaning 'hill'. Parts of the old town walls are still visible, although the only surviving town gate is Broad Gate. Broad Street, leading from the gate, is lined with many fine Tudor, Queen Anne, Regency and Georgian houses; considered one of the finest streets in all England.
The well-known black and white facade of the Feathers Hotel is one of the many attractive timbered buildings along the main thoroughfare. This elaborate 15th-century inn has embossed ceilings, carved panelling and wall paintings. The Bull Hotel opposite is actually much older. Although its frontage appears 19th-c. the large yard at the rear is typically Tudor, with wood beams and an overhanging upper floor. Other fine establishments include the 16th-c. Rose and Crown and the Angel Hotel, where Lord Nelson once stayed. The Reader's House in Church Walk, is part-medieval, part-Tudor, with a rare 3-storey Jacobean porch.
The oldest part of the town lies around Dinham Street, which runs downhill from the castle towards the river. Dinham House, a redbrick mansion built in 1716, was once the town house of the Earl of Powis. The building was restored in 1975 and is now a crafts centre.
The oldest remaining building (apart from the castle), is a tiny chapel built in 1190 and dedicated to St Thomas Becket.
The town's massive red sandstone castle dates from 1085, built for Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury. Among its inhabitants were the ill-fated sons of Edward IV (The two little "Princes in the Tower") who were kept here before being sent to London.
The market square (Castle Square) lies over the site where the old Town Hall once stood (demolished in 1986). On the north side of the square is the magnificent 18th-c. red- brick High Hall. Opposite is the half-timbered Castle Lodge, used as a prison during the 16th-c. and later the house of officials of the Council of Wales and the Marches.
The 15th-c. Church of St. Lawrence (to the east of the castle) is one of the most spectacular parish churches in England. The prosperous merchants of medieval Ludlow built the church with cathedral like proportions. The 130ft (40m) tall pinnacled tower is visible from across the town. The fine interior is filled with light from the tall windows along the aisles and in the lantern of the central tower. The north-east chapel, dedicated to St John the Evangelist, was original the chapel of the Palmers' Guild, a wealthy 14th-c. religious organisation who once owned about a third of the properties in Ludlow. The remains of the poet Housman lies in the church graveyard.
The town museum, housed in the old Butter Cross building (near the church) provides a useful introduction to the town's long history.
Ludlow is known as the homegrown food capital of Shropshire and the annual Food Festival in September celebrates this well earned reputation. The impressive castle ruins also provide a dramatic backdrop for annual Shakespearean productions and the Summer Festival, which fills the town with theatre, comedy and music in June.
The ruined castle still gives an impression of impregnable strength. It was constructed by Roger de Lacy in 1085 as a defensive fortress along the stormy Welsh border. It reached the height of its glory under the Mortimer family in the late Middle Ages.
From the outer bailey a causeway leads to the inner bailey, containing the ruins of several 13th and 14th century domestic buildings. Its most notable features include the round Chapel of St Mary Magdalene (circa 1100) and some late 13th-c. state rooms.
In 1501, Prince Arthur (Henry VIII's brother), came here with his bride, Catharine of Aragon. He died five months later and his heart was buried in the church.
Opening times: daily from 10am to 5pm - Admission Charge
Location: Castle Square, Ludlow SY8 1AY
Tel: 01584 873355
Located in the 18th-c Butter Cross building. The museum covers the history of the town and its castle up until the present century. Exhibits include examples of arms and armour, geology and Georgian and Victorian domestic items. Thousands of fossils from Shropshire and adjoining counties are the main feature of the museum's geological collection.
Opening times: Fri, Sat & Sun, 10am to 4pm - Small Admission Charge
Location: The Buttercross, Ludlow SY8 1AW
Tel: 01584 878697