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britman Ludlow - A travel report by Brit
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Ludlow,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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britman's travel reports

Ludlow – the perfect historic town.

  18 votes
Page: 1 2
If wandering around an ancient compact English market town with historical buildings, castles, gourmet restaurants, open air markets, friendly pubs and café’s turns you on – look no further than Ludlow. Ludlow is the kind of English town that we all want to visit for a day or perhaps a weekend. It has all the appeal of larger British historical cities, much loved by our foreign visitors, with none of the associated hassles of transport, parking or heaving crowds. report of the month contest
Aug 2004


Ludlow Castle and 900 hundred years of history
Ludlow Castle and 900 hundred years of history
The history of Ludlow, like the town itself, is overshadowed by its ruined castle. The Castle was built between 1086 and 1094 by the Norman Knight, Roger de Lacy, to defend the border area between England and Wales, known as the Marches. It became Crown property in 1461.

In the 1470’s Edward IV established his Court of the Marches here. His two sons, the young Prince of Wales and his brother Richard, lived in the Castle for 11 years until they were taken by Richard III to the Tower of London where they met their mysterious deaths. Twenty years or so later in 1501, the then Prince of Wales, Prince Arthur the heir to Henry VI, set up his court at Ludlow Castle. Since the age of two Arthur had been betrothed to Catherine of Aragon, the Spanish bride he had never met until their wedding day. The marriage was all too brief, for 6 months later in the Spring of 1502 the 16 year old Prince was dead. Catherine of Aragon later proceeded to become the first of Henry VIII’s six wives.

Later in the 1530’s Henry VIII’s governmental changes to Wales meant that Ludlow had lost its importance, whilst its Castle was no longer needed to house the Princes of Wales. The Castle started to slowly fall into disrepair, part of its roof had begun to disappear by 1624 when Milton first performed his Comus here and by the end of the 1700’s it was uninhabited. Today, its ruin is maintained by English Heritage.

Favourite spots:
Nearby Stokesay Castle & Manor House
Nearby Stokesay Castle & Manor House
Ludlow town governed Wales and the bordering counties until 1689; it was the centre of administration where the Council and the Court of the Marches met and sat. The town was then full of lawyers, clerks and royal messengers and many huge impressive houses such as Castle Lodge and The Feathers were built to house the officials. Later building developed over the centuries to the east of the Castle. It is crammed full of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian buildings, tangled cheek by jowl throughout the town. The real star building is the much photographed Feathers Hotel, at the Bull Ring, truly one of England’s finest half timbered buildings. Corve Street and Broad Street are two of the towns’ main streets housing many early half timbered buildings. At the bottom of Broad Street is the 13th Century Broad Gate the last of Ludlow’s surviving seven gates. Half timbered and stone buildings were built over six centuries, later in the 18th and 19th centuries as Ludlow became a fashionable social centre, some properties were newly built in brick, whilst others were “Georganised”, that is modernised, by encasing or fronting older buildings with the then fashionable brick or stucco facades of Georgian architecture. The Bulls Head pub, immediately opposite to the Feathers is one example of this, where you only realise that behind this Georgian frontage and under the archway is a wonderful courtyard surrounded by older Tudor buildings. By the 18th Century Ludlow had become the leading centre for glove making and in 1814 production had apparently reached 660,000 pairs annually. Modern commercial Ludlow is full of character. In the centre of the town are the Market and Castle Squares, which have held open air markets on most days for the past 900 years; the biggest being held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays when many stalls sell local food produce, others sell flowers, antiques, books, arts, crafts and handicrafts. On Mondays there is a livestock market. Attractively housed in the towns ancient buildings are small, individual non chain-store shops. To find in such a small town a huge selection of local butchers, bakers, greengrocers all flourishing by selling locally grown fresh produce is a breath of fresh air, miles away from the city frenzy, with their modern shopping malls and huge supermarkets, which infest many parts of today’s world. Sunday morning regularly finds an antique and flea market taking over the central Market and Castle Square areas.

What's really great:
The Manor House from inside the Great Hall studded door
The Manor House from inside the Great Hall studded door
8 miles North West of Ludlow on the A 49 Craven Arms road is the village of Stokesay. Here you will find a perfectly preserved piece of Medieval England. It is almost pure fantasy like in appearance. The oldest surviving fortified manor house in Great Britain which has remained, almost untouched for 700 years. The site is managed by English Heritage and your modest entrance fee will include a cassette headset, which will guide you around this great historical building, explaining just how it was in its everyday heyday. Must sees here are the Great Hall with its massive roof timbers and the Manor House built between 1285 and 1305 by wealthy wool merchant Lawrence of Ludlow. The manor has changed hands only 5 times in 700 years, which accounts for its remarkable state of preservation. During the Civil War it escaped relatively untouched after being surrendered to Cromwellian troops in 1645. Today the preservation continues and it is one of the finest visits that you can make whilst in England.

Sights:
The Feathers Hotel - One of the best Half Timbered  Buildings in England
The Feathers Hotel - One of the best Half Timbered Buildings in England
1. The Castle: - 900 hundred years of fascinating history outlined above.

2. Castle Lodge:- This remarkable ancient and historic house is in private hands, the owners are the Pearson’s who wish to sell it. The asking price of £650,000 of 3 years ago has recently doubled to £1.2 million in Britain’s house price boom– and still there are no takers! If I was a lottery winner, I would be knocking on their door tomorrow. This house deserves all the superlatives that you can throw at it – built in the 14th Century for the officials of the Kings government it has 4 huge reception rooms on the ground floor, upstairs 12 bedrooms, all with wattle and daub half timbered walls. Outside there is a small walled garden. Most of the ground floor rooms have exquisite linen-fold intricately carved oak panelling from floor to ceiling. Ornate plastering covers the ceilings and magnificent massive inglenooks fireplaces throughout that could burn a whole branch of a tree at once! The couple bought this house 15 years ago and rescued it from ruin. They set about its careful slow restoration and today open it 365 days a year at a modest entrance fee to anyone who cares to ring their bell.

3. St. Lawrence’s Church:- In the centre of the town dates back to the 1300’s and is the largest parish church in the county it has a 135 foot tower and is over 200 feet long. The choir stalls date back to 1447 and have interesting carvings underneath them – known as misericords. Medieval stained glass in the windows shows the life of St. Lawrence. The churchyard where A.E. Housman, author of “The Shropshire Lad” is commemorated has fine views over Shropshire’s rolling green patchwork hills.


4. The Feathers Hotel:- Almost Ludlow’s landmark! Every visitor photographs it and wants to have it as their home whilst staying in Ludlow. There is no other word for this building but outstanding! Both outside and inside the ornamentally carved oak beams, leaded windows, fireplaces with overmantels and richly plastered ceilings all speak history to you as you look. It’s a must to visit – even better make it a special occasion and stay for a weekend!

5. Ludlow Museum: - on Castle Street - entrance is free. It has exhibitions portraying Ludlow through the ages and an excellent geological museum with over 20,000 fossils from Shropshire which is one of England’s richest geological areas.

Accommodations:
The creeper clad Crown Inn at Hopton Wafers
The creeper clad Crown Inn at Hopton Wafers
1. The Feathers Hotel, Bull Ring, Ludlow has a mixture of rooms of varying sizes and prices. Those to the modern rear of the building are large spacious with full ensuite facilities, TV, coffee & tea makers.

2. Dinham Hall, by the Castle has 14 rooms and another fine restaurant.

3. Number Twenty Eight at 28 Broad Street, has no restaurant but 6 comfortable rooms.

4. The Church Inn, 14th Century Town Centre Inn, Church Street, Ludlow. www.thechurchinnludlow.com


5. The Crown Inn at Hopton Wafers. Just outside Ludlow on the A4117 Cleobury Mortimer Road is a traditional family run country Inn. It has excellent reasonably priced accommodation. www.crownathopton.co.uk

 The best tip for accommodation is to either write (with a stamped addressed envelope) or to ring, or email Ludlow’s Tourist Information Centre on +44 1584 875053 or www.ludlow.org.uk. They really will offer and can pre-book all accommodation from hotels through to campsites and hostels.

Nightlife:
Butter Cross, timbered shops and St. Lawrence's Church as seen from Broad St., Ludlow
Butter Cross, timbered shops and St. Lawrence's Church as seen from Broad St., Ludlow
Local cricket, bowling, tennis and golf clubs welcome visitors. There is a National Hunt racecourse. South Shropshire Leisure Centre at Bromfield Road Ludlow has a 25 metre swimming pool, Diving Pool and flume and a 6 Court Sports Hall, Premier Health and Fitness Suite. Those wanting nightlife will find that the pubs will provide all you need. If it dance or trance clubs, ask locally, all the pubs will tell you where to go!


Hangouts:
Church Inn, Ludlow scores on food, drink and accommodation
Church Inn, Ludlow scores on food, drink and accommodation
1. The Wheatsheaf in Lower Broad Street, is a 17th century pub built into the wall of the Town Gate. Good food and exceptionally good Woods Ales from Winstantow. This pub also has reasonably priced accommodation.

2. Church Inn, Church Street, Ludlow is right in the centre of town in front of St. Lawrence’s Church. It is a great drinking pub, a great eating pub and has reasonably priced accommodation too. It was very busy with American and Australian travellers of all ages on my last visit.

3. Bell Inn, opposite the Feathers Hotel in the Bull Ring is a Marston’s owned pub frequented by a younger local crowd and has a good atmosphere.

4. Blue Boar, Mill Street, Ludlow, sells good brews such as Abbot Ale.

5. Crown Inn, Hopton Wafers, Just outside Ludlow on the A4117 Kidderminster Road (you will need transport) is excellent. Particularly attractive restaurant and cheap lunchtime sandwiches. Really good beers in this ivy clad free-house. www.crownathopton.co.uk

Restaurants:
View of Housmans rolling Shropshire countryside from St. Lawrence's churchyard
View of Housmans rolling Shropshire countryside from St. Lawrence's churchyard
If you are a foodie or consider yourself a gourmet, connoisseur or just enjoy food - you have found bliss!

In tiny Ludlow there are no less than three single starred Michelin Restaurants (reservations here are - a must!). Non Europeans may not appreciate that a single star awarded by French owned Michelin red guides to a chef and restaurant is deemed a great accolade and usually means that the food is outstanding but the price consequently expensive. Conversely, many of Ludlow’s pubs, café’s and hotels serve great cheap food. Alternatively and even cheaper Indian, Chinese takeaways sell food to go, as do the several fish and chip shops that sell the Great British meal. Hotel & restaurant menu’s start with huge English Breakfasts, through to lunchtime sandwiches, snacks or more substantial meals. Dinner is usually served between 6.00 pm through to around 9.30 pm. Again, the choice of food is wide and, the bills can match all pockets from backpackers through to well-heeled tourists. Whatever or wherever you choose to eat, the real bonus is that all the establishments are within easy walking distance of the Town Centre.

1. Hibiscus, 17, Corve Street, Ludlow. Tel 01584-872325 (Reservations essential)
2. Mr Underhill’s, Dinham Bridge, Ludlow. Tel 01584-874431 (Reservations essential)
3. Merchant House, Lower Corve Street, Ludlow. Tel 01584- 875438 (Reservations essential)
4. Church Inn, Church St., Ludlow (No need to book)
5. Queens Inn, Lower Galdeford, Ludlow. (No need to book)



Other recommendations:
Broad St., Ludlow
Broad St., Ludlow
Other Recommendations.

Getting there

By Car or Coach: - London 162 miles. Birmingham 39 miles. Shrewsbury 29 miles.

By Rail or Public Transport:- telephone for timetable details - +44 1588 673888



Websites
o www.ludlow.org.uk
o www.ludlowcastle.com
o www.ludlowfestival.co.uk
o www.stlawrences.org.uk
o www.english-heritage.org.uk


Hiking & Backpacking
Some really good walks around Ludlow town and along the banks of the River Teme. The former Town Common – Whitcliffe Common has many paths to walk. If you leave by the Dinham Bridge you can enjoy a 30 mile walk South to Kington in neighbouring Herefordshire. For hiking in the area generally see: - www.ramblers.org.uk/info/paths/shropshire.

Ludlow Festival:-
The Arts festival is in held late June/Early July annually it is a well attended event and even has like Edinburgh, fringe activities too. Jazz lovers might like to look at www.ludlowjazz.co.uk. Otherwise the www.ludlow.org.uk site will give you further full details nearer the time.

Tourist Information and hotels, b&b, lodgings, camp-site bookings. Also a useful Calendar of Events is available if you telephone 01584 875053 or browse www.ludlow.org.uk. Occasionally, the local Historic Society has guided tours of the town again if you are interested, enquire at the Tourist Information Centre.



Published on Tuesday August 24th, 2004


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Mon, Dec 20 2004 - 04:19 PM rating by mikeygee91

Great, Informative and historic Report!

Keep it up,
Mike

Wed, Aug 25 2004 - 01:25 PM rating by priggipisa

Brit, great report! Really sounds like a great place and your report was very informative. I've been to London, and it was nice, but knew next time I'd want to see the hidden treasures of England-sounds like Ludlow is one of them. Thanks for sharing!

Wed, Aug 25 2004 - 06:28 AM rating by travelalain

What a great report, and so detailed.

Wed, Aug 25 2004 - 12:54 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii,it was a great pleasure to read such a nice report abt old town.
ravi

Tue, Aug 24 2004 - 08:28 PM rating by bineba

Dear Brit,

very nice report. Makes me wish we still had a car! Rural England on public transport is a bit of a nightmare.

best

Sabine

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