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Ludlow Castle

Visited September 2012

Location Ludlow, Shropshire
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Ludlow 1/2 mile
Parking Yes-Town centre
Facilities Toilets, Gift Shop, Cafe
Map

 

The pretty market town of Ludlow is famous for its annual food festival and 'foodies' will find themselves in heaven with so many fine restaurants & cafes to choose from. Castle explorers are also well catered for as the town originally grew up around the magnificent Ludlow Castle, one of the 'marcher castles' built to control the Welsh borders.

 

 


 

 


Review

The castle was started in 1138 by the de Lacy family, and stayed in their possession until the thirteenth century. During the Anarchy it was beseiged by King Stephen who executed a daring rescue of Prince Henry of Scotland, who had been caught on a hook and hoisted aloft from one of the towers, much to everyones amusement, I'm sure!

 

However, Stephen is not the only royal to be associated with the castle. The two 'Princes in the Tower' were resident at Ludlow prior to being moved to London by their uncle Richard III. After that no one knows what happened to them, although the blame for their demise seems to have been settled on Richard.

 

Another Prince to reside at the castle was Arthur, Prince of Wales, the lesser-known brother of King Henry VIII . Young Arthur was married to Catherine of Aragon and the couple would have become King & Queen of England but for Arthur's highly inconvenient death aged just 16 years. Young Henry, at this point totally unprepared for kingship, became heir to the throne. He then married Catherine, his brother's widow. The question of their divorce, many years later, brought about the split from Rome and the formation of the Church of England.

 

With so much history attached to the castle there is obviously much to see. The outer bailey is reached through the  gatehouse- a gift shop has been sited in the old porter's lodge. The arched entrance to the inner bailey is across the bridge over the defensive ditch. The coat of arms above the doorway date to 1581, and are the royal arms of Elizabeth I.

 


 

 


 

Through to the inner bailey you cannot help but notice the small round building, which is the remains of the Norman chapel of St. Mary Magdelene. It is very well preserved and has some interesting detail above the door arches. It was built in a circular shape as an imitation of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the early crusaders would have brought the design back to this country. Still surviving is the arcade of arches carved into the walls, these would have contained stone benches for the congregation.

 


 

 


 

Other parts of the castle are the judges lodgings- built in 1581 as the accomodation for visiting judges at a time when Ludlow was the administrative capital for Wales, the north range containing the great hall and solar (known as Prince Arthur's block after the young Tudor prince) and  the garderobe tower-quite a climb to the top but worth the effort.

 

The most impressive part of this castle though is the great tower, the most secure area of the whole castle. Built within its own court, it had a well and even its own gatehouse, and was designed to be impregnable. The climb to the very top can be done in stages, as the first floor is still in tact so you can stop of and get your breath back before the final ascent. The view from the top is amazing, and gives you an appreciation of the vast size and layout of the castle.

 

There is food provided in the Castle House Tea Rooms, but it was incredibly busy the day we went, and it also contained an art exhibition when we were there, which by the very 'hands-off ' nature of it was not very interesting to the children, so wanting to take no chances  we took a walk around the back of the castle and followed the path down to the river, where we found a pleasant riverside cafe at Ludlow Mill, which served the most amazing food.

 

Ludlow Castle was enjoyed by the whole family, and as there is so much climbing up & down of the several large towers, was surprisingly good exercise for us all. Best of all, say the children, was the well-stocked gift shop on site.

 

 


 

 


 

More info: Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Mill

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