Ludlow Castle can be found in the heart of a bustling market town of Ludlow that owes its very existence to the magnificent structure. In the heart of the beautiful Shropshire countryside, the town boasts nearly 500 listed buildings and the original medieval street layout still survives to this day.
Developed in 1086 by the de Lacy family, the castle sits on a hill overlooking the rivers Teme and Corve. It became one of a line of castles along the Marches built specifically to keep out the undefeated Welsh. The castle was extended in the 12th and 13th centuries and the town walls were constructed so that both castle and town shared a common defence against attack.
Over the years, Ludlow Castle was passed through generations of the de Lacey and Mortimer families to Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. Becoming a Crown property in 1461, it remained a royal castle for the next 350 years.
Its status was enhanced when it became the centre of administration for the Marches shires and for Wales. This resulted in Court sessions and the Prince’s Council being held there. As a result, there was a massive refurbishment programme of the castle and the buildings which were developed in the style of an Elizabethan country home.
The Royal connection is well documented. Prince Edward and his younger brother Prince Richard, spent most of their childhood years at Ludlow. Prince Edward was at the castle when news was received that his father had died and he acceded to the throne as Edward IV. Sadly, both he and his brother were arrested, imprisoned and subsequently murdered, in the Tower of London. They were forever immortalised, by Shakespeare, as ‘the princes in the Tower’.
Their uncle, Richard, became Richard III. He lost his crown to Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, who defeated him at the battle of Bosworth Field.
Henry VII’s eldest son, Prince Arthur died at Ludlow Castle in 1502 whilst on honeymoon with his bride, Catherine of Aragon. Prince Arthur’s heart was buried at Ludlow. Catherine returned to London and later married Arthur’s brother becoming the first of Henry VIII’s six wives. Henry’s divorce of Catherine led to the English Church splitting from Rome and the launching of the Reformation.
Mary, daughter of Catherine and Henry and later Queen Mary 1, spent three winters at Ludlow when she was a young girl.
Ludlow Castle was abandoned in 1689 and quickly fell into disrepair. In 1811, the Earls of Powis took over ownership and, thanks to them, further decline has been prevented and they have opened the castle to the public.
Vistors can now walk through the Castle grounds and see the ancient houses of kings, queens, princes, judges and the nobility - and imagine a lifestyle that has long gone by. Ludlow Castle is also the home to major festivals and events that are held throughout the year.
Private tours of Ludlow and Ludlow Castle form part of the Tudor Monarchs Tour developed by Ambient Tours.