A walk around the outside of the castle is a good way to get some fine views. It passes along the city streets facing town and down a trail that goes along the outside walls. You can circle the whole castle in short time and see how impressive it is from all sides. It is easy to get a feel of the Norman and medieval times.
A friend told me there was not much to see at Ludlow Castle. But I visited anyway. And I think my friend was thinking of a different castle - Ludlow's 'pile' is verrry interesting!
Like everything else in Ludlow, there is loads of information notice boards on display around the castle grounds. It is great fun to explore, because there are many staircases, towers, ramparts and rooms open and accessible. At the very top of the main Keep you have incredible views over Ludlow Market, the Church, the River Teme and the Shropshire hills.
And there are some beautiful details if you look closely. The interesting Round Chapel (rare example) has a splendid decorated Norman arch. And gargoyles to hold the floor up!
Ludlow Castle supported King Charles during the English Civil War. Large parts of Ludlow's outskirts were burnt and knocked down as the Parliamentarians tried to capture the Castle (it eventually surrendered to save the town)!
During Ludlow's festivals the central area of the Castle, between the inner and outer moats, is used as an arena, for fairs and Shakespeare plays.
There is a large souvenir and gift shop at the Castle entrance. Some nice stuff!
Normal opening hours February-December 10am-4pm. Closes 5pm during Summer. Open weekends only in January. Current adult admission £4.
There is lots in Ludlow but it is fairly compact. You could wander round and see most things in a day. There is an excellent fold-out guide available at the Tourist Information Office and, during the Summer, guided evening walks around the town.
The area around King Street and the Bull Ring is Ludlow's main shopping area. The centre of things touristy is around Castle Square (where the markets takes place) and the elegant Broad Street. At the top end of Broad Street is the 18th century Buttercross building. Down the hill (past De Grey's Tea Shop) is the only surviving town gate, then Lower Broad Street and the River Teme. Mill Street is another grand road that runs parellel to Broad Street. It leads back up to Castle Square and Ludlow Museum. There are several quaint little roads that cross from Old Street, Broad Street, to Mill Street. The other main street of note is Corve Street, which winds down the hill to the north from the town centre.
Ludlow's impressive Castle is facing... Castle Square. Here is the large Tourist Information office on the Square too as well as the town Museum (open March to September).
Ludlow Civic Society have done an amazing job putting blue plaques on the walls which explain the history of everything, so wander around the town and soak it up! There are guided tours available during the Summer - check the Ludlow website or Tourist Information Bureau.
Ludlow is also famous for its geology - the rocks in the area are superb examples of Silurian siltstones, filled with all sorts of fossils dating back over 300 million years. Whitcliffe Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of this. 'Cliffe' is self explanatory. 'Whit' comes from the white deposits left by the lime in the rocks, I think.
You can see the cliffs of siltstone if you take a stroll along the Bread Walk. This is a wooded path along the River Teme, between Ludford Bridge and Dinham Bridge. It is believed the path got its name because the labourers who made the path 150 years ago were paid with bread.
I walked the path before the leaves had grown on the trees - there were great views of Ludlow from the top of the cliff, through the bare tree branches. The River Teme is beautifully tranquil between each weir. You also have the opportunity to take a closer look at Ludlow's two ancient bridges - one of the arches of Dinham Bridge was added by Thomas Telford (of Ironbridge fame).
'There is but one church in the towne but that is very fayr and large and richly adorned and taken for the fayrest in all these quarters'
(John Leland, 1539)
St Lawrence is still easily the biggest and most important church in the town. If you can find it behind the shops of King Street, go inside. It is massive. It shows how rich Ludlow was in 1199, when the church was built!! Sometime in the 15th century the pretty Perpendicular style adornments were added.
The inside is vast and has many interesting things to look at. There is a free information leaflet (though a donation is suggested). Around the church you will find notices giving you additional information.
I was very impressed with the old church organ, which was installed in 1764! You can see the old mechanism for the church bell chimes next to the organ. In the opposite (east) aisle is the old clock mechanism - Ludlow's church clock is nowadays computerised!! Also look out for the interesting gravestones on the floor - can you spot 102 year old Thomas Wainwright? There is also some very old graffiti on the church pews - William Payter 1753 for example.
The church is very well looked after. There are stewards on duty and a large shop for books and postcards. Presently (2005/6) they are building some new washroom facilities for the church..
Try and go up the church tower if it is open (see my other tip).
Open from about 10am to 4pm most days.
St Lawrence's Church tower can be seen for miles, being at the top of Ludlow's hill. The tower nis 135 feet high. That means it is also possible to see for miles from the top. And yes, this is what you are allowed to do!
For the small price of £1.50 you can climb up to the top of the tower. Two hundred twisting steps, past the bell-ringing chamber (which has a window in the floor) and ending with a tiny door to the roof. Stunning ariel views of this wonderful town and the Shropshire countryside!! Maybe you will notice the thirty-five years of graffiti marked into the lead-roof. And just inside the doorway there are names and dates carved into the stone, one-hundred years earlier. I am not recommending you add your own name, I'm sure these people were struck down by a bolt of lightning as they left the church :-)
Ask the member of staff inside the church to show you where to go.
WARNING: There are 200 steep steps. Children under 8 years old are not allowed entry. See my Warnings and Dangers tips.
Although the castle is primary a ruin there is sufficient of the castle standing to allow you to climb via a stone circular stairway to the top of the castle.
The views are magnificent. The River Teme.can be seen running past the castle below
Ifound the round chapel and its history fascinating. It is one of the finest types of round chapels in England.
It is sometimes called the Norman Chapel, and it sits in the middle of the Inner Bailey of the castle. It is though to have been built by Hugh de Lacy, son of Walter de Lacy, a member of the household of William FitzOsbern who had arrived in England with the army of William in 1066
The Chapel is dedicated to St Mary Magdelene and is the most important chapel at Ludlow Castle. Round chapels like this were associated with the Knights Templar
The castle dominates Ludlow. With your imagination you can glimpse its past grandeur but be warned it is now a ruin.
Well worth the entrance fee for the views it gives you over the surrounding rolling countryside.
Ludlow is rare in that its streets still follow the medieval street pattern. During the 13th century a massive town wall was built, completely surrounding the settlement. There were seven town gates through the wall, the majority with a portcullis to keep intruders out!
Unfortunately only one of Ludlow's gates survives today - The Broad Gate. This incredible gate dates from the 13th century. And it looks ancient, in a beautiful way :-) Above the gate is a massive house with two large stone turretts. From under the gateway, you can clearly see the stone slots that guided the portcullis. The floor of the house above is made from ancient timbers.
The Broad Gate is still used by pedestrians and cars - so watch out, in case you are run down by a Ludlovian in a '4x4' :-)
Next door to the Gate, in Lower Broad Street, is the Wheatsheaf Inn. I did not enter but from the outside it looks like a busy, pleasant place for a drink or a meal.
Everyone visiting Ludlow will eventually come across the Feathers Hotel. This, together with the Castle and Broad Street gets by far the most photographs in guide books, postcards etc. I can totally see why!
The Feathers has been an inn since 1670 and, before that, a private house since the fifteenth century!!
Welsh owner Rees Jones added the incredible ornate carved facade in the 1620's. His and his wife's initials are still on the ancient front door.
I haven't stayed there (its cheaper to catch the train back to Cardiff for me) but Bed & Breakfast starts at £40 per person.
See Kiriel's Accomodation tip - yes, she has stayed there:
The Feathers Hotel can arrange for you to meet up with a lovely man by the name of Dr James Harris. For a small fee (5 pounds for 2 hours!) James will explain to you the way that Ludlow has grown over the years, the important parts that the town has played in England's history, and will take you for a walk around the town itself. The walk is an easy one, and James points out sights of interest as you go; medieval and renaissance architecture, Edwardian homes and gothic structures. I found James to be delightful and knowledgeable and the walk and talk fascinating. I was really pleased that I did the tour and highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in history. James was able to reveal all sorts of little tidbits of history that I would never have discovered by myself.
This shop has been trading in this building for 140 years, but the building is over 600 years old.
The shop sells ladies and gentlemens clothes.