Newest Review: ... walk across the field and enter the actual Castle after crossing the (dry) moat and walking through the gates of the Great Tower. Origi... more
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Ludlow Castle (Ludlow)
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Ludlow Castle (Ludlow)
Advantages: Well maintained ruined Castle
Disadvantages: A little bit more info on what you are seeing would have brought it to life more.
Ludlow Castle is situated within the market town of Ludlow in South Shropshire. Although a ruin, it is now open to the public and is privately owned. As you look through the gates, you only see one wall, and you think there is nothing behind it, but there is much more to see once inside.
Ludlow castle started life as a Norman fortress, needed to hold back the unconquered Welsh; it was subsequently the property of various Earls and key historical figures such as Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. In the 15th Century it became a Royal castle and other famous residents included young Prince Edward and Richard, who were to become better known as the Prices in the Tower. Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII died here whilst honeymooning with his wife Katharine of Aragon (who went on to marry Henry). It was abandoned 1689 and fell into decline before the Earl of Powys took it over in 1811 and halted the decline, his descendants opening the castle to the public.
You enter the Castle grounds through the Gift Shop and pay your admission (£4.50 for adults when I visited at the end of 2009), you walk across the field and enter the actual Castle after crossing the (dry) moat and walking through the gates of the Great Tower. Originally built in Norman times, and added onto to make it an impressive four stories high, over subsequent years. I believe you can climb this tower, but it was icy when we went, so it was closed.
You also have a round chapel, again Norman. There was a rectangular chancel, but this no longer remains, but the circular nave is still standing and makes a lovely home for the local pigeons. The North Range at the back of the castle includes more towers and we climbed these with care. This part is slightly younger then the other parts - about 14th Century. The staircases are fairly treacherous and you need strong footing as they are narrow and spiral and it was a bit icy at the top. I think it is worth doing if you can face the staircases, as there are some lovely views of the town and area. However, I think it is worse going down than up on these stairs, so I urge caution! The North Range contained the Great Hall and other lodgings and there are lots of little small rooms and hidey places for small children. When we visited, the countryside sound effects consisted of pigeons cooing and human parents calling their missing offspring!
Outside of the gates is a chapel that later became a courthouse. There are plaques dotted around the castle for you to read with a little bit of information on each one. I did think these weren't particularly informative and think they have missed a trick here. I don't recall an audio tour being offered but there was a guide book on sale. The Castle is really a fair-weather attraction as you are walking across grass and through uneven, broken stone floored buildings with no roof. In the winter some of the slopes and steps could be icy, and parts of it were quite muddy, so practical footwear needs to be worn.
You exit the castle through the Gift Shop again; they have an excellent selection of relevant history books. There were also a lot of children's gifts, mugs and homeware gifts. As you come out of the shop, just opposite is the Castle House which holds a few craft style shops, and the Castle Tea Room. This is a smart little tea shop, accessed down a corridor, where you can sit inside or outside (outside is actually a glass covered corridor, although in summer months, you may be able to eat outside 'proper'). They offer cakes, sandwiches and baked potatoes as well as tea, coffee and hot chocolate. There are also toilets here too. Depending on if there is a market on or not, you maybe able to park outside the castle, alternatively you can park on the streets surrounding it where parking restrictions allow or use the Park & Ride service. There are local buses running nearby as it is right on the market square. The castle is open all year round, but only at weekends in December and January (except in the break between Christmas and New Year when we went). Opening hours vary according to the season, with the Castle being open until 7pm in the summer, but only 4pm in winter so this is worth checking out. They seem to have various special events on throughout the year, some of which are open to the public, and some which keep the castle closed.
If you are in Ludlow I do recommend a visit, although you may feel you get more out of it from purchasing a guide book. Having visited lots of historical sites in the area, I feel they could bring it to life more. Weather needs to be a consideration, and you need to be steady on your feet due to the uneven floors.
Summary: Well maintained ruined Castle
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