"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 1 December 2014

Ludlow - Part 1: Medieval Fayre and Castle


For years I've been keen on attending the Medieval Fayre at Ludlow so this year I picked it as my birthday day out (albeit an early treat!). The Fayre is in its 16th year and there are over a hundred stalls selling everything from food and drink, craft work, seasonal goodies, handmade soap, jewellery, paintings - the list is endless. The main event is centred within the castle but the market stall holders in the town square were dressed in medieval costumes and there were craft fairs and Christmas bazaars in the college and church. In the castle itself events included fighting knights, puppetry, medieval music, hands on history, have a go archery, St Nicholas's Grotto, story telling and jesters.

Ludlow is a medieval market town in Shropshire in the Border Country. We used to visit a lot when I was little as my grandmother grew up in a nearby village so driving through the Shropshire countryside and walking round the town itself brought back many happy memories.

Sorry, the photos aren't very good (we won't mention the low light!!) as there were thousands of people milling round the town and castle - the atmosphere was incredible - but hopefully they will give you an idea of the great day out we had. The photos taken by D with the Canon are marked with an asterisk.

This is the Butter Cross - said to be situated right at the centre of Ludlow. It was built in 1746 in the classical style designed by William Baker. The Ground floor was originally used as a butter market and it is still used by stall holders on market day.

The whole town centre has lots of quaint alleyways (it reminded me slightly of York) and I have never seen so many independent shops.

A market is held every Saturday and

it was lovely to see holly and mistletoe and Christmas trees for sale.

My only regret from the visit is not buying one of the lovely jugs from this stall. I do have a tendency to collect pretty jugs and I use them as vases.

Who could resist some mulled wine

whilst listening to Christmas Carols :)




The Parish Church of St Laurence - I did manage to have a quick look round later just before we came home


Reindeer by the Father Christmas Grotto


After a quick look round the town centre we visited the castle.

Construction of Ludlow Castle began in the late 11th century. It was the border stronghold of Roger de Lacy (one of the Marcher Lords). It was one of a line of Norman castles built along the Marches to keep peace in the countryside and to hold back the unconquered Welsh.

It is mainly built of Silurian Limestone quarried from the mound on which it is located. It occupies an ideal defensive position assisted by the Rivers Teme and Corve.

Early in the 14th Century the castle was owned by the Mortimers and Roger Mortimer was responsible for extensive alterations and additions.

The castle was later owned by Richard, Duke of York and was involved in the War of the Roses. It was the seat of Government for Wales and the Border at one time. Edward IV sent the Prince of Wales and his brother (later the boys became known as The Princes in the Tower) to reside here. Prince Arthur (brother of Henry VIII) spent his honeymoon here with his bride, Catherine of Aragon, in 1501.

Mary Tudor (Queen of England 1533-1554) and her court spent 3 winters at Ludlow between 1525 and 1528.

The 2nd Earl of Powis bought the castle (by now in ruins) from the Crown in 1811 and today the castle is still owned by the Powis family. The castle combines various styles of architecture - Norman, Medieval and Tudor.


The Outer Bailey covers almost four acres and was full of stalls - many in marquees.

The curtain walls of the Inner Bailey are 5 to 6 feet thick and they, together with the flanking towers and Gatehouse Keep, are the oldest part of the castle dating back to the 11th Century

More stalls and events including falcons.

This is the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene - it has a rare circular nave and a rectangular chancel now in ruins.

I escaped into the Great Hall and Solar Wing to escape from the crowds for a while - both date from the late 13th century. The Great Hall would have been used for ceremonial and public events and the top floor of the Solar Wing is believed to have been where Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon spent their honeymoon.

The Great Hall

You can see how busy it was in this photo!

The Solar Wing

The Ludlow Giants - Brother Sid and Lady Bella

The next set of photos were taken by D - you can see how useful the zoom on the Canon is in some of them - e.g. the falcons compared to mine!!

D got these photos from the top of the the Great Tower Gatehouse Keep - the zoom came in handy again and you can see how busy the town and castle were - it was very misty and murky so sadly you can't see much of the view.

Before leaving I had a quick look round the Parish Church of St Laurence - I'll save the photos for another post as there are already far too many in this post.

B D and E went a wander round the town whilst I was in the church.

Finally, (if you have managed to get to the end of this post!) - no visit to a castle is complete without a ghost story. I am currently reading "The Smile of a Ghost" by Phil Rickman so the visit to Ludlow where much of the book is set was particularly interesting. Fans of the Merrily Watkins books will I am sure already know this tale.

Many centuries ago a Marion La Bruyere lived in the castle and she had formed an alliance and then fallen in love with a Knight who was an enemy of the castle Lord. One evening she lowered a rope from a tower so that her lover could climb into the castle and meet her. Unfortunately, the dangling rope allowed 100 enemy soldiers to enter and take control of the castle later that evening. On discovering her lover had betrayed her Marion grabbed his sword and cut his throat. Filled with guilt and remorse she jumped off the Pendower Tower to her death on the rocks below. Stories tell of how on quiet evenings her ghost can be seen wandering around the castle at dusk and her screams can be heard on the anniversary of her suicide.


Jerry said...

Loved every photograph and every word (Would also have loved to try the Ludlow beer)!

Ragged Robin said...

Jerry - Thanks so much Jerry - was a bit worried I had posted far too many photos so I was very glad to read your kind words :)

I would have liked to try the Ludlow beer too but mulled wine had gone to my head!! My husband and daughter disappeared into the beer tent at one point - I gather beer was good :)

Ian said...

Another great tour and it is a Fayre that we would have loved to visit. Terrific photos as usual.

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - Thanks so much :) So glad you enjoyed the post - did you manage to visit that part of England when you were over here?

Deb said...

Great photos. I love the medieval figurines

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much :) I could have spent a small fortune there :)

Toffeeapple said...

Thank you so much for this post. I adore Ludlow even though I have never been in the castle. It's the streets I love, the beautiful buildings and the independent shops. There always seems to be a market on when we go, bargains galore!

The Fayre looks good, no chance of me walking around it though. I am so glad that you enjoyed your time there.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thank you so much for your lovely comment - I am so glad you enjoyed the post. I really do feel we must return and spend more time in the independent shops - just didn't have time to do everything!

Still hoping we can have a short break in the area - hopefully next year :)

Ian said...

We didn't get to the Shropshire district, as after Kenilworth we headed for York. So much to see and six weeks is not enough, so unfortunately we had to miss a lot.
Your visits fill in many gaps, so very pleased to follow your blog.

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - Thanks for the reply and so pleased you follow my blog and it helps to fill in gaps :) I remember that you saw quite a few places I have never visited! I've just been reading about a place called Old Sarum and Salisbury and realised its an area I've never seen!

Ian said...

We visited Old Sarum and Salisbury, both very impressive particularly Salisbury Cathedral and the Chapter House which has one of the copies of the Magna Carta all my schoolboy history relived.

Ragged Robin said...

Ian - I would so love to visit there - must have been a great experience for you :) If you look at www.bbc.news.co.uk and check under Science and Environment there is a feature (still on there at the minute) called Medieval City detected which is all about Old Sarum.

Countryside Tales said...

Ludlow is one of my all time-favourite places so it was LOVELY to see you all your photos and read the descriptions. I took M there for a short holiday a couple of years ago- I spent several years going to and fro in my twenties as a BF I had at that time lived there. I just love it.

Pete Duxon said...

Ludlow is lovely! lots of good food shops :)

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks so much - yes it really is a lovely town and what a great place to go on holiday :)

Pete Duxon - Thanks Pete - wish I'd had time to explore town more (spent too much time in castle). I am sure you've visited the church - it was so beautiful and those misericords! :) Shame I missed most of the stained glass :(

Chris Rohrer said...

This LOOKS like a haunted castle. The solar wing is rather fascinating and reminds of things a person would read about in a novel OR see in a movie like a Game Of Thrones. What a beautiful place. I love the Frosty lady....and mulled wine sounds delicious:) I have a problem with food. I love it too much and feel like I would have sampled all of the goods. I would have loved to go walk around the grounds here.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris - yes castle really was amazing and just stuffed with history! I know what you mean re: food - came home with lots of cheeses!

I really ought to persevere with Game of Thrones - read and loved the first book but it was SO long! My son is watching the series but I fear it may be a bit over violent for me - am too squeamish!!