Featured Image of Ludlow Castle

The History Of Ludlow Castle

LocationLudlow, Shropshire, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byThe Earl of Powis
Official WebsiteLudlow Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Filming, Stay)

Ludlow Castle is a beautiful medieval castle ruin situated in the town of Ludlow, in the countryside of Shropshire, England. The castle offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of medieval society to the visitors who bask in the events and festivals organised throughout the year while exploring the castle.

History

The origins of Ludlow Castle can be traced back to the 11th century when it was built by Walter de Lacy, a Norman nobleman. He is said to have been given the property by a prominent supporter of William the Conqueror. The year when Ludlow Castle was founded is still unclear, but the earliest parts still standing today are believed to be the work of de Lacy’s sons, Roger and Hugh. Roger de Lacy was incriminated in a rebellion against William II in 1095 and had fled abroad. The castle was taken into Royal ownership and was later granted to Joce de Dinan. He held it through 1139, upon the outbreak of the Anarchy and the civil war between Stephen and Matilda over the English succession. Joce supported Matilda’s claim, and hence Ludlow Castle was unsuccessfully besieged by Stephen in 1139. During this action, a grappling hook was hurled from the castle, managing to snare Prince Henry of Scotland, serving in Stephen’s army. It was only due to swift action by the King himself that stopped the Prince from being hoisted into the castle and ransomed.

Gilbert de Lacy ultimately recovered Ludlow Castle and held it until his death in 1163, and then it subsequently passed to his son, Hugh. One of them greatly expanded the castle by constructing an Outer Bailey. However, Hugh’s actions in Ireland prompted Henry II to take Ludlow Castle back under Royal control in the 1180s. Hugh died in 1186 and was succeeded by his son, Walter, but it took until 1216 before he recovered Ludlow from the King. He had a tumultuous relationship with the Crown like his father, and Ludlow Castle was confiscated for some time. During one such period of Royal control in 1224, the castle hosted peace negotiations between Henry III and Llywelyn ap Iorwerth.

In 1316, Roger Mortimer inherited Ludlow Castle, under whose ownership many of the domestic buildings within the inner bailey were constructed. However, he was executed in 1330 by Edward III, but the Mortimer family retained their estates. When in 1425 the male line died out, the castle was granted to Richard, Duke of York. During the Wars of the Roses, the Duke’s soldiers were heavily trounced at Ludford Bridge (located just outside of town), and the castle was sacked.

In the 15th century, Ludlow Castle became the property of the Crown and was re-established by Edward IV. It acted as a body to counsel and act on behalf of his son, Prince of Wales’s infant Edward. King Edward had recently been reinstated to the monarchy during the Wars of the Roses, and he and his allies directed most of the marcher lordships within and adjoining Wales. He appointed his son at Ludlow Castle and selected his allies from the Woodville and Stanley families as prominent figures in the Council. However, the castle was abandoned in 1689 and subsequently fell to decay.

Architecture

Ludlow Castle keep
Ludlow Castle keep”, by Hadrianus1959, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ludlow Castle boasts examples of architecture from the Norman, Medieval, and Tudor periods. Its construction began around 1085, with many additions made later in two centuries. It is one of the most intriguing castles in the Marches, sitting in a dominant and imposing position high above the River Teme. The castle had an elliptical trace and was enclosed by a deep rock-cut ditch on the eastern and southern sides. The castle’s curtain wall has been built in stone from the beginning using the spoils from the ditch. Entry to the castle was via a Gatehouse Keep on the south side, while four towers were constructed along the northern and western walls. A postern gate was built into the Western central tower of the castle.

The outer bailey houses Mortimer’s Tower, initially the west gate to the castle, and St Peter’s Chapel was added in the 14th century. The inner curtain wall was built in the 11th-century and houses a sturdy stone keep used initially as a gatehouse. Beside the gatehouse is the Judge’s Lodging, added in the Elizabethan period.

Movie Features

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001)– Ludlow Castle is featured in the History- Drama Documentary is narrated and presented by historian David Starkey about the wives of the Tudor King Henry VIII.

Monarchy with David Starkey (2004-2007)– The History Documentary attempts to discuss the history of the English Crown starting from 400AD to the present and briefly features Ludlow Castle.

Faintheart (2008) – Directed by Vito Rocco, this Romantic-Comedy movie features the castle in its representation of a guy trying to win his wife back in the world of the battlefield.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ludlow Castle famous for?

Ludlow Castle is famous for being the Council of the Marches of Wales headquarters, founded by Edward IV in the late 15th century. Ludlow Castle remained the center of Welsh politics until 1641.

Who owns Ludlow Castle?

Ludlow Castle has been owned by the Earls of Powis since 1811, who have saved the castle from further ruin, and allowed this glorious historical monument to be open for visitors throughout the year. 

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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