'Oh, come you
home on Sunday
When Ludlow's streets are still
And Ludlow's bells are calling
To farm and lane and mill.
Or come you home on Monday
When Ludlow Market hums
And Ludlow chimes are playing
The Conquering Hero Comes.'
Those are the
well-known words of A.E.Housman who wrote 'A Shropshire Lad'. Although
his ashes were laid to rest in Ludlow, Housman was born in
Worcestershire. But that's the effect that Shropshire has on people,
they come to visit and end up staying here.
always been a 'favourite town'. and is even thought of as 'up-market
Shropshire'. Like Shrewsbury, it has its castle and river, Like
Shrewsbury, it has so much history attached to it that, as a subject,
it is worthy of study on its own. But there the comparisons end.
Although both towns have seen development, Ludlow's town centre has
fared better, and the annual Ludlow Festival has firmly put the town at
the top of the county's 'cultural list'.
one approaches Ludlow the town is impressive, and the climb up to the
town centre gives one the impression of 'arriving'. One such approach
is over Ludford bridge then through Broad Gate and into Broad Street
which rises steadily to the Butter Cross at the top. Particularly when
on foot, one can feel the history of this town enveloping the visitor
in a welcome embrace.
In ancient British times Ludlow was known as Dinan and Llystwysoc,
whose derivation implies it was the Palace of a Prince. The Saxon name
Leodlowe implies an administration centre. But of these early
settlements there are no remains and we have to wait until the Norman
Conquest to find the Ludlow of today. Roger de Montgomery erected the
greatest part of the castle, and fortified the town with walls.
He was related to William the Conqueror, and whether he was given the
Marches (border) region because of his family ties, or because he was a
brilliant soldier/administrator, and was therefore the man for the job,
is not clear. Whatever the reasons, for his efforts he was awarded the
Earldoms of Arundel and Shrewsbury.
It must be remembered that at that time most of the country's problems
were with the Welsh. Ludlow, being so close to the border, was an ideal
staging post for armies in times of trouble, and an administrative
centre when times were more peaceful.
To combat the
threats from Wales, the King allowed any Lord or Baron to raise an army
and march into Wales, the reward being that he could keep anything he
took from the Welsh. For this reason, the Lords, or Barons, Marchers
were a great ally if on your side, but a terrible problem if they were
not, and it is these Lords of the Marches who created much of the
history of Ludlow and, indeed, the whole of the Marches area.
When Roger de Montgomery died, his second son, Hugh, inherited his
English titles and estates and became Lord of Ludlow. But,
unfortunately, he did not live long and his death is recorded in the
Welch Chronicle thus;
'The year following being
1096, Hugh de Montgomery, Earl of Arundell and Salopsburie, whom the
Welchmen called Hugh Goch, that is to say, Hugh the red-headed; and
Hugh Vras, that is Hugh the fat, Earl of Chester, and a great number of
nobles more, did gather a hugh armie, and entred into North Wales,
being thereto moved by certein lords of the country .... And so the
Earls came over against the ile of Mon, or Anglesey, where they did
build a castel of Aberihiennhawc. Then the Earls spoiled the ile and
slew all that they found there. And at the verie same time Magnus, the
sonne of Haroald, came with a great navie of ships towards England,
minding to laie faster hold upon that kingdome than his father had
done, and being driven by chaunce to Anglesey, would have landed there,
but the Earls kept him from the land. And there Magnus with an arrowe
stroke Hugh, Earl of Salop in the face, that he died thereof.'
Hugh's brother, Robert, succeeded him, but he was the opposite of his
brother and is recorded as; - ' a most ingeniuos architect, a man of
great insight in serious affairs, and unwearied in his management of
worldly affairs;; but for inflicting torments, a most inexorable
butcher, exceedingly cruel, covetous and libidinous.' - Robert was
finally defeated by Henry I who turned Ludlow into a Royal Residence.
When Stephen came to the throne in 1135, the governor of Ludlow was
Gervase Paganelle, but he was a supporter of the Empress Maud, and the
King besieged Ludlow. The outcome is not clear, but it is generally
believed that Gervase had a change of heart and obtained the king's
forgiveness. (continued on next page)