Ludlow is a charming market town on the border between England and Wales. It was founded after the Norman Conquest on a bend in the River Teme and contains almost 500 listed buildings within its medieval walls. Two of the tallest as you cross the river from nearby Whitcliffe are St Laurence’s, the biggest parish church in England, and Ludlow Castle. Both have towers that rise high over Ludlow’s roofline.
English Heritage calls Ludlow Castle "a remarkably complete multi-phase complex" and "one of England's finest castle sites". It was one of the first built in stone by the victorious Normans after 1066. Though now a ruin it contains many notable rooms, including a great hall and great chamber, solar block (sleeping accommodation for the lord of the castle) and a circular chapel, modelled on the shrine in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
After the English Civil War the castle fell into neglect. In 1772 the Earl of Powis leased the semi-derelict castle from the Crown, and in 1811 his brother-in-law, Edward Clive, son of Clive of India bought it outright. Clive eventually took the titles Viscount Clive of Ludlow and Earl of Powis.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the castle was a picturesque ruin with a bowling green and even an inn in its outer bailey. Viscount Clive closed the inn and rebuilt it as a gentleman’s residence which was available to rent from 1826. Today this building is still owned by the Powis Estate and since 2007 has been available as a wedding venue with three self-catering apartments on the first and second floors.
The largest of these is named Prince Arthur & Catherine of Aragon after Henry VII’s ill-fated son and daughter-in-law who spent their honeymoon in Ludlow Castle. It sleeps four people but can accommodate six for dinner should you make friends in the town. Cut into the kitchen ceiling is an elegant nineteenth-century lantern that lets in direct sunlight. The second four-person apartment is slightly smaller, but with an attractive window seat, and is named after Sir Henry Sidney who was Elizabeth I’s Lord Deputy in Ireland and who lived out his retirement at Ludlow Castle as president of the Welsh Marches.
On the second floor of the Castle Lodgings is the smallest apartment, cottagey in style and directly under the rafters. It is named Comus after a masque written by John Milton which was presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634.
One of the great joys of staying in the Castle Lodgings is having these historic castle grounds to yourself after-hours - but the town is lovely too. Shop well and discover the joy of self-catering.