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Ludlow Castle is a large, now partly ruined, non-inhabited castle which dominates the town of Ludlowmarker in Shropshiremarker, Englandmarker. It stands on a high point overlooking the River Teme. The castle is owned by The Trustees of the Powis Castle Estate on behalf of the family of the Earl of Powis, and is open to the public.



Construction of Ludlowmarker Castle began in the late 11th century as the border stronghold of one of the Marcher Lords, Roger de Lacy. It is first referred to by chroniclers in 1138 but was at this time a more basic castle type. It was held by the de Lacymarker's into the 13th century and with their focus on their holdings in Irelandmarker their enemies took it during the civil wars of the reign of King Stephen when the King himself besieged the castle and rescued his ally Prince Henry of Scotland. In 1224 King Henry III of England met with Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, the Welsh prince and leader, at Ludlow to sign a treaty with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton as mediator. Early in the 14th century it was enlarged into a magnificent palace for Roger Mortimer, then the most powerful man in Englandmarker.

In 1402 Edmund Mortimer, himself born at Ludlow Castle, set out from the castle with a large army to seek battle with the forces of Owain Glyndwr - he met them in the valley of the River Lugg at the Battle of Bryn Glasmarker where he was defeated, captured and eventually allied himself to the Welsh rebel's cause, to the extent of marrying one of Glyndwr's daughters with whom he had four children, before starvation and death at the siege of Harlech Castlemarker in 1409.

Royal connections

Later, in the 15th century under the ownership of Richard, Duke of York, the Castle was a major base in the Wars of the Roses and was taken by the Lancastrians in 1459 but back in York hands in 1461. Ludlow afterwards became a royal palace. In 1472 Edward IV sent his son the Prince of Wales and his brother (later the ‘Princes in the Tower’ of Shakespeare fame), to live at the castle, which was also the seat of Government for Wales and the Border Counties. Ludlow was now in effect the capital of Wales.

In 1501 Prince Arthur, (son of Henry VII and brother to Henry VIII) with his bride Catherine of Aragon, lived here for a short time before his early death. Mary Tudor, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, and then heir to the throne of England as the couple's only issue, spent three winters at Ludlow between 1525 and 1528 along with her entourage of servants, advisors, and guardians.

The Civil War and subsequent decline

In the English Civil War between 1642 to 1648 Ludlow was a Royalist stronghold and was besieged by Parliamentarian forces but negotiated a surrender, avoiding damage and slighting. In 1669 the seat of administration for the Marches and Wales and the Council of the Marches was centralised in London during the reign of William and Mary. The legal and administrative community moved with it. In 1689 the Royal Welch Fusiliers were founded at the Castle by Lord Herbert of Chirburymarker but soon after it was abandoned and gradually fell into decay. In 1811 the ruins were purchased from the crown by the 2nd Earl of Powis, in the ownership of whose family it remains.

Description of the castle

The castle forms a large rectangular enceinte, with the town and principal entry on the east side, and the west side overlooking the river. The northwest corner is enclosed by another enceinte wall forming the inner ward and the heart of the castle. Entry is gained by a bridge to the right of the rectangular keep. The inner ward contains the residential buildings that formed the castles principal accommodation. These buildings feature large windows that overlook the courtyard. In addition, the inner ward features the remains of an unusual chapel that had a circular chancel reminiscent of Temple Churchmarker in Londonmarker.

The castle’s long history is reflected in its varied architecture; comprising Norman, Medieval and Tudor styles.


Milton’s masque Comus was first performed in the Great Hall in 1634 and the tradition of a performance is continued each June and July when a Shakespearean play is performed in the open air within the Inner Bailey, as part of the successful Ludlow Festival [29217]. The Castle hosts other events throughout the year, such as the Ludlow and the Marches Food and Drink Festival [29218] which takes place in the Castle precincts each September.

Over 50,000 visitors pass through the gates each year[29219].

In Fiction

Ludlow is mentioned in the Philippa Gregory novel The Other Boleyn Girl and is a partial setting in The Constant Princess. It is also mentioned in Anne Boleyn and Me, a children's novel in the My Story collection, by Alison Prince.

Ludlow Castle is also the main setting for Elizabeth Chadwick's novel Shadows and Strongholds, which chronicles the possession of the castle in the hands of Joscelin de Dinan, husband of Sybilla de Dinan, sister of Gilbert de Lacy. De Lacy later recaptures the Castle and is granted the lands in perpetuity by King Henry II of England, with de Dinan granted the royal manor of Lambournmarker in compensation for the loss.


Further reading

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