From Academic Kids

For alternative uses of "Ludlow" see Ludlow (disambiguation).


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Feathers Hotel, Ludlow (Photo by Mick Knapton)

Ludlow is a town in Shropshire, situated almost on the border between England and Wales. It lies within the bend of the Teme River, forming an area of 350 acres (1.4 km²) about a small hill. The crest of this rise formed the site of the castle and market place of the original town, and from there the streets sloped downward to the Teme, or northward toward the Corve tributary.

The town is also very close to the border between Shropshire and Herefordshire, and in the Domesday Book was included in Herefordshire. As a result of this location, it became important 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, notably Arthur Tudor, who died there in 1502. It is now the headquarters of the South Shropshire district.

Ludlow contains some fine examples of black and white timbered buildings including the Feathers Hotel (pictured), and has featured in movies and TV programmes including Tom Sharpe's Blott on the Landscape.

Famous people from Ludlow include:

In recent years Ludlow has become an unlikely gastronomic centre. It is the only rural town in England with three Michelin starred restaurants and also has an annual food festival. Ludlow is a member of Cittaslow, the slow town movement also related to slow food.



When the Domesday Book survey was performed subsequent to the Norman conquest, this site was home to the unoccupied large Stanton Manor. Possession of this structure was granted to William the Conqueror's henchman Walter Lacy. Walter's son Roger 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 c. 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 formed an important border fortification along the Marches of Wales, and played a significant role in local conflicts.

Records show that the name 'Lodelowe' was in use for this site by the year 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. 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.

About this time the locale began to form a town, part of a deliberate policy of pacification by the Normans. The community also provided a useful source of income for the lords, based on rents, fines, and tolls. The town layout was deliberately planned, so the streets formed a regular grid, although they were adapted somewhat to match the local geography. The first road was most likely High Street, which formed the wide market place to the east of the castle. 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 Broad Street were added later.

The growth of the town by settlement from the surrounding lands resulted in the repair and expansion of the parish church. The town continued to prosper, and reached a steady population of about 2,000 for several centuries thereafter. It became a significant market center for the area, and market day was held on every Thursday up through the 15th century. The town was licensed to build a wall in 1233, and this was constructed about the central part of the community with four main gates and three postern gates.

The castle complex continued to expand, adding a Great Hall, kitchen, and living quarters. The castle gained a reputation as a fortified palace, and in 1306 it was acquired through marriage by the ambitious Roger Mortimer, 1st Baron Wigmore. The Queen Isabella and the young Edward III were entertained at the castle in 1328.

During the Middle Ages the town served as a retail center for the sale of wool and cloth. It was also home to various trades, and by 1372 it was known to have had 12 trade guilds. These included metal workers, shoemakers, butchers, drapers, mercers, tailors, cooks, and bakers. There were also merchants of moderate wealth in the town. But the collection and sale of wool and the manufacture of cloth continued to be the primary trades up until the 17th century. Flocks of sheep in nearby Wales provided the raw materials for this business.

The town also contained several pubs and ale-houses, leading to court records of some alcohol-induced violence and a certain reputation for excess. Several inns were constructed to accommodate travellers. (The oldest surviving inn today is the Bull Hotel, dating from the 15th century.)

During the War of the Roses, Richard, Duke of York, gained ownership of the castle and turned it into one of his main strongholds. The Lancaster forces captures Ludlow in 1459, but at the end of the conflict in 1461 the castle became property of the Crown and Richard's son, Edward IV. The town was then incorporated as a borough.

Under Henry VII the castle became the headquarters of the Council of the Marches of Wales, and served as the administration center for Wales and the counties along the border. During this period, when the town served as a virtual capital of Wales, it was home to many messengers of the king, various clerks, and lawyers for settling disputes. The town also provided a winter home for local gentry, during which time they attended the Council court sessions.

Starting in 1610 the cloth industry began to decline in Ludlow. The town economy continued unaffected until about 1640, when the activities of the Council were suspended for a time. This brought about a 20% reduction in the town population, and accompanying economic difficulties.

Except for brief interludes, Ludlow continued to host the Council until 1689 when it was was abolished by William and Mary. The castle then began a lengthy period of decay. The structure was poorly maintained and the castle suffered from some pillaging. In 1772 some consideration was given to demolition, but it was instead decided to lease the buildings. Later it was purchased by the Earl of Powis, and he and his wife turned the castle grounds into a tourist attraction.

Starting around 1760 the town population began to undergo a significant expansion. New structures were built along the outskirts that would become slums in the 19th century, later to be torn down.

In 1832 a doctor from Ludlow began studying the rock deposits to the west of the town. The bottom layer of the rocks forming the four divisions of the Silurian period became identified as the Ludlow Bone Bed. This was a thin layer of dark sand containing numerous remains of early fish.

By the 20th century the town saw a growth of tourism, leading to the appearance of many antique dealers, as well as art dealers and bookshops. Many of the traditional shops were acquired by retail chains. In 1979 a modern by-pass was built to the east of the town, diverting the A49. This allowed the heavy lorry traffic to avoid the town centre, significantly reducing the noise level.


  • 1377 — 1,172
  • 1801 — 3,897
  • 1901 — 4,552
  • 1971 — 7,470
  • 1987 — 7,450


Bodenhams is a shop in Ludlow and is one of the oldest shops in the country. It celebrated its 600th anniversary in 2005.


The Ludlow Festival has been held annually since 1960 during the end of June and the start of July. The open area within the castle serves as the stage for Shakespearean plays, while a number of supporting events include concerts, musicians, and


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