Ludlow extends up the hill overlooking the crossing of the River Teme. The river curves around the southern end of the town and is crossed by Ludford Bridge and Dinham Bridge. To the north of the town the River Corve meanders down from Corvdale and joins the Teme to the West. Like most places in Britain, Ludlow's councillors have given themselves a reason to holiday abroad and have twinned the town with San Pietro in Italy and La Ferte-Mace in France. If the citizens of San Pietro or La Ferte-Mace ever pay a visit to Ludlow, they'll be overjoyed at the Tudor surroundings - they could have found themselves looking at the dreadful concrete cows had they been twinned with Milton Keynes!
There are nearly 500 listed buildings in Ludlow and the original medieval street layout survives to this day almost unchanged. The town has many half-timbered buildings, notably the Jacobean Feathers Hotel and buildings in Dinham which borders the castle wall. Its grammar school, founded in 1282, is now a sixth form college. To the north of the town, is the impressive St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church. The Clee Hills lie east and northeast of the town.
There was no settlement of any consequence on the present site of Ludlow before the Norman Conquest, although it is possible that there was a small Saxon agricultural hamlet at Dinham.
In the late 12th and early 13th centuries the castle was extended, and part of the grid pattern of streets immediately to the south was obscured by the enlarged outer bailey. From 1233 onwards the town walls were constructed, and as at Southhampton and Canterbury, the castle stood within the circuit of the walls and shared a common line of defence. Ludlow had several medieval suburbs laid out in a planned fashion beyond the gates. An arts festival is held annually in the castle with open-air theatrical performances of Shakespeare plays. John Milton's masque Comus was first presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634.
The watchtower and round chapel of this ruined castle date from the late 11th century. Ludlow Castle played a key role in some turbulent events in English history. Its 14th-century owner, Roger Mortimer, helped his mistress Queen Eleanor, to murder her husband Edward II. In 1473, the Prince of Wales and his brother were held here before their mysterious death in the Tower of London. In 1502 Prince Arthur, Henry VII's son and heir to the throne, died at Ludlow. The castle became crown property in 1461, though it was acquired by the 2nd Earl of Powis in 1811. Edward V, Prince Arthur and other royal children were brought up at Ludlow and the castle became the headquarters of the Council of the Marches, which governed Wales and the border counties until 1689. The Council's courts were very active, and the town was full of lawyers, clerks and royal messengers.
Ludlow was a highly successful plantation. By 1377 it had 1,172 tax-paying residents, which placed it thirty-third in the list of English towns of that date. Ludlow was a fortified town, one of just over a hundred in England and Wales which had a full circuit of walls. Apart from the Castle, it retains some well-preserved stretches of town wall and the sites of its seven gates can readily be identified. As in most fortified towns, the walls and gates served many purposes other than defence. They were a means of controlling the entry of all sorts of undesirables, many of them far less formidable than invading armies. They enable market tolls to be collected easily and gave support to lean-to buildings. In times of peace they were a ready source of building stone, and continued to exercise a strong influence on the topography of the town long after their defensive function had ceased.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Ludlow was a fashionable social centre and county families built elegant brick houses. Glove making was now the major industry reaching a peak production of 660,000 gloves in 1814. Population grew rapidly, causing many back buildings in the congested town centre, though after 1850 there was expansion eastwards.
the population of Ludlow is just under 10,000 and industries include precision
engineering, cabinet making, and the manufacture of agricultural machinery. Tourism is
important, particularly retailing to the town's visitors.
'Oh, Come you home on Sunday when Ludlow's
streets are still
A. E. Housman.
In ancient British times Ludlow was known as Dinan and Llystwysoc, whose derivation implies it was the Palace of a Prince. The Saxon name Leodlowe implies an administration center.
A stroll through Ludlow's streets is pure pleasure, one striking individual structure is the Feathers Hotel, with its timber frames and decorative carving. Broad Street has a delightful parade of shops which include De Grey's famous tearooms. There are a plethora of good eating places in Ludlow - in fact it is claimed that Ludlow has more restaurants per person than any other place in Britain. Buttercross stands at the far end of the market Place and is home to the Town Council offices
We recommend the Feathers Hotel, worth a visit for the architecture alone whilst the Church Inn is has good food but is an excellent venue for trying a wide range of cask ales and ciders. The Bull has a Tudor yard which is worth a visit and the Blue Boar is a pleasant 16th Century inn despite being one of an ever increasing number of 'Pubmaster' chain pubs.