infobox UK place
country = England
latitude= 52.3681
longitude= -2.7176
official_name= Ludlow
population = 10,500
shire_district= South Shropshire
shire_county = Shropshire
region= West Midlands
constituency_westminster= Ludlow
post_town= LUDLOW
dial_code= 01584
os_grid_reference= SO517750
london_distance= 155.6mi

static_image_caption=Dinham Bridge crossing the Teme near Ludlow Castle.

Ludlow is a market town in Shropshire, England close to the Welsh border and in the Welsh Marches. It lies within a bend of the River Teme, on its eastern bank, forming an area of 350 acres (1.4 km²) and centred on a small hill. Atop this hill is the site of Ludlow Castle and the market place. From there the streets of the medieval town 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 [cite web|url=|title=Ludlow|accessdate=2007-09-10] . With a population of around 10,000, Ludlow is the largest town in the South Shropshire district and home of the district council headquarters [cite web|url=|title = South Shropshire District Council - Press release|accessdate=2007-09-17] .

Ludlow has nearly 500 listed buildings [cite web|url=|title=Ludlow's Buildings|accessdate=2007-09-17] . 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 [cite web |url= |title= Getting a Taste for Ludlow|accessdate=2007-09-17] .


The name 'Lodelowe' (Welsh: "Llwydlo")was in use for this site before 1138. At the time this section of the Teme river contained rapids, and so the "hlud" of Ludlow came from 'the loud waters', while "hlaw" meant hill. [cite book
first=Adrian | last=Room | year=2003
title=Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings
publisher=McFarland | isbn=0786418141
] 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.


Medieval History

seealso| Ludlow Castle
More has been written and documented about Ludlow than any other town in England, thanks to Ludlow Historical Research Group and other organisationsFact|date=August 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 Walter 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.Fact|date=March 2008

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 Marches of Wales, and played a significant role in local, regional and national conflicts.

Marcher Town

The town also provided a useful source of income for the 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 geography. 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 wide Broad Street were added later.

The town was licensed to build a wall in 1233. It was 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 Baron Wigmore. 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 metal workers, 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 [cite web|url= |title= St. Laurence's Church |accessdate=2007-11-10] .

The town also contained several coaching inns such as the old Angel, pubs 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.

During the War 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 also sent his sickly heir Prince Arthur to Ludlow, where he was joined briefly by Henry's wife Catherine of Aragon. Ludlow Castle was the site of the controversial wedding night, when the question of marriage consummation became the crux of Catherine and Henry VIII's annulment.

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.

Later History

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 a doctor, and amateur geologist, from LudlowClarifyme|date=March 2008 began studying the rock deposits to the south-west of the town, along the River Teme and on Whitcliffe and in Ludford. The bottom layer of the rocks forming the four divisions of the Silurian period became identified as the Ludlow Group Bone Bed to the world of geology. This was a thin layer of dark sand containing numerous remains of early fish, especially their scales, along with plant debris, spores and microscopic mites laid down as sediments in a shallow tropical sea some 400 Million years ago. Whitcliffian is a term used worldwide for rocks of this age in modern geology to this day. The site is now an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

By the 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. Many of the traditional shops were acquired by retail chains, and a long battle of words between local activists and local companies and Tesco was eventually won by the mega retailer when it obtained planning permission to build a supermarket on Corve Street, but Bodenham's, a clothing retailer, survives and is one of the oldest shops in the country - it celebrated its 600th anniversary in 2005 [cite web|url=|title=Association of Convenience Stores|accessdate=2007-11-10] .

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, hotel and pub / restaurant, recently opened. 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.

Ludlow was described by "Country Life" as:
. . . . the most vibrant small town in England

[cite web|url=|title=Ludlow Tourist Information|accessdate=2007-09-17] .

Transport and communications

In 1979 a single carriage way bypass road was built to the east of the town, diverting the A49. 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.

Ludlow railway station is located about five minutes walk from the town centre.

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. [cite web|url=|title=Bridge collapse severs gas main] . The bridge is now replaced with a bailey bridge.


The census of 2001 recorded 9,548 people living in Ludlow parish. A further 395 live in the neighbouring Ludford parish.

*1377 — 1,172
*1801 — 3,897
*1901 — 4,552
*1971 — 7,470
*1987 — 7,450
*2005 — 10,500

Figures are also available for the broader area of South Shropshire and paint a figure of rural stagnation and slow growth since 1831.

Notable people

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. Baron Rees of Ludlow, the current Astronomer Royal is associated with the town, and Anthony Howard, a senior British political journalist and commentator keeps a home in there.

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.

Sir John Bridgeman, a Chief Justice of The Marches in the 17th century is buried in St. Laurence's church, within a tomb monument attributed to Francesco Fanelli.


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 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' [cite web|url= |title= Ludlow Food Festival |accessdate=2007-11-10] .

The Medieval Christmas Fayre is another annual event in Ludlow taking place during late November, again centred on Ludlow Castle and the market square [cite web|url= |title= Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre |accessdate=2008-08-15] .


Ludlow has become a gastronomic centre and at one point was the only town in England with three Michelin-starred restaurants [cite web|url=|title=Ludlow Shropshire tourist and visitor information|accessdate=2007-09-17] (a distinction lost to Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire) 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 [cite web|url= |title= UK Cittaslow Website |accessdate=2007-11-10] [cite web|url=|title=Woman's World - Going slow in Ludlow|accessdate=2007-09-17] , and is at the forefront of the UK's Cittaslow network. It supports three traditional butchers, a regular farmers market and a range of specialist food shops.


The town is also home to an arts and cinema centre - The Ludlow Assembly Rooms - that hosts live music, theatre, 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) [cite web|url= |title= Ludlow Assembly Rooms |accessdate=2007-11-10] .Ludlow has featured in movies and TV programmes including Tom Sharpe's "Blott on the Landscape" and 90's TV adaptations of "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" and "Moll Flanders", as well as being featured in the 1950 movie version of Mary Webb's "Gone To Earth".

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. The naval historian and novelist Captain Geoffrey Bennett (Sea Lion) lived in Ludlow aftre his retirement in 1974 up to his death in 1983 and his ashes were interred in the parish churchyard.

The actors Pete Postlethwaite and John Challis (Boycie in "Only Fools & Horses") both live near Ludlow. 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 a Ludlow-girl.


The town also has a football and rugby union team competing in the Midland leagues and a cricket team sporting 3 teams in the Shropshire Premier league . The cricket pitch has a picturesque setting with the castle, church and surrounding hills and countryside clearly visible. Ludlow Racecourse is situated just off the A49 road a mile north of the town [cite web|url= |title= Ludlow Racecourse |accessdate=2007-11-10] .

Closest cities, towns and villages

hub = Ludlow
type= ex
NN = Shrewsbury, Church Stretton
NE = Telford, Bridgnorth, Highley, West Midlands conurbation
EE = Cleehill, Cleobury Mortimer, Bewdley, Kidderminster
SE = Tenbury Wells, Bromyard, Worcester
SS = Leominster, Hereford
SW = New Radnor, Presteigne
WW = Knighton
NW = Craven Arms, Brampton Bryan, Bishops Castle, Clun

External links

* [ Geograph] - photos of Ludlow and surrounding areas


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