Ludlow through the Ages



'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.

Ludlow has 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'.

Whichever way 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.

Early History
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)