Ludlow (St. Lawrence)

LUDLOW (St. Lawrence), a borough, market-town, and parish, having separate jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Munslow, S. division of Salop, 29 miles (S. by E.) from Shrewsbury, and 142 (N. W. by W.) from London; containing 5064 inhabitants. This place, called by the Britons Dinam, or "the palace of princes," and by the Saxons Leadlowe, and Ludlowe, appears to have been distinguished for its importance prior to the Norman Conquest, when Robert de Montgomery, kinsman of the Conqueror, fortified the town with walls, and erected the greater part of its stately castle, which was his baronial residence till his death in 1094. On the attainder of his son, Robert de Montgomery, the castle came into the possession of Henry I., who made it a royal residence, greatly enlarged and embellished it, and, having strengthened the fortifications, placed a powerful garrison here, under the command of Gervase Paganell. This leader, in the following reign, having embraced the cause of Matilda, held the castle for a considerable time against the forces of Stephen, by whom it was besieged in person, assisted by Henry, son of the king of Scotland, who, being drawn up from his horse by an iron hook, was rescued from incarceration by the courage and address of the English monarch.

From its proximity to Wales, Ludlow was always a station of importance, and a strong garrison was constantly kept up in the castle, for the defence of the frontier from the incursions of the Welsh. In the reign of Henry III., an order was issued from the castle for all the lords marchers to repair to this place, attended by their followers, to assist Roger Mortimer, at that time governor, in restraining the hostilities of the Welsh. In the 47th of the same reign, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who had joined the confederated barons, assisted by Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, attacked the castle with their united forces, and having set fire to it, nearly demolished it. In the reign of Edward II., Roger Mortimer, a descendant of the former governor, having joined the discontented barons, was sent prisoner to the Tower of London: he contrived, however, to effect his escape, and, in commemoration of his success, erected a chapel in the outer ward of Ludlow Castle, which he dedicated to St. Peter, and endowed for a priest to celebrate mass; but being arraigned for high treason in the reign of Edward III., he was publicly executed at Tyburn. In the reign of Henry VI., Richard, Duke of York, who then had possession of the castle, detained John Sutton, Lord Dudley, Reginald, Abbot of Glastonbury, and others, in confinement here; and issued from this place his declaration of allegiance to the king, which he repeated some years after, on the defeat of Lord Audley at Blore Heath. On his subsequent insurrection and attainder, the king laid siege to the castle, and having taken it, stripped it of all its ornaments, and plundered the town of every thing valuable; the Duchess of York, with her two younger sons, was taken prisoner, and confined for some time in one of the outer towers of the castle. Upon the death of the Duke of York, at the battle of Wakefield, the castle descended to his son Edward, Earl of March, afterwards Edward IV. The young king Edward V., and his brother, the Duke of York, lived in the castle, under the superintendence and protection of Earl Rivers, till their removal by order of the Duke of Gloucester, subsequently Richard III., to the Tower of London, where they were barbarously murdered. Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII., resided here after his nuptials with Catherine of Arragon, in 1501, and kept a splendid court till his decease in the following year. In the reign of Henry VIII., a kind of local government, called the "Council in the Marches of Wales," was established at Ludlow, consisting of a lord president, as many councillors as the prince chose to appoint, a secretary, an attorney, and four justices of the principality; the lord president residing in the castle. During the parliamentary war the castle held out for the king, under the command of the Earl of Bridgewater, but finally surrendered to the parliament; frequent skirmishes took place in the town between the contending forces, in one of which Sir Gilbert Gerrard, brother to the Earl of Macclesfield, was killed.

The remains of the Castle still exhibit traces of its original grandeur, and, from their elevated situation in a country abounding with beautiful scenery, form an interesting ruin; they are on the summit of an eminence of greystone rock, overhanging the river Teme. The north front consists of massive square towers connected by a lofty embattled wall. The ancient fosse and part of the rock were planted in 1772, with beech, elm, and lime trees, and form a delightful promenade. On the west is a precipitous ridge of rock parallel with the castle, and richly crowned with wood, intersected by a chasm, through which the river Teme pursues its course; and on the north and west sides of the building is a deep fosse, cut in the solid rock, over which was a drawbridge, now replaced by a bridge of stone, of two arches, leading to the principal entrance. The interior has a strikingly majestic appearance. On the right are the ruins of the extensive barracks which were occupied by the troops of the lords president of the marches; near the gate are the apartments of the warden and other officers, and on the left is the keep, a large square embattled tower of four stages, 110 feet high, with square turrets at the angles: the walls of this tower, which is of Norman architecture, are from nine to twelve feet in thickness. Opposite to the entrance gateway are the hall and state apartments, in the early and decorated English styles, now much dilapidated: in this hall was performed, by the children of the Earl of Bridgewater and others, the celebrated Masque of Comus, composed by Milton, and founded upon an incident which occurred to the family of that nobleman, soon after his appointment to the presidency. To the left are the ruins of the chapel, of which the nave and the beautiful Norman arch leading to the choir are the principal remains. Within the inclosure are several massive towers, among which are Mortimer's Tower, and that in which Butler, after the Restoration, composed several cantos of his Hudibras. Though irregular in their arrangement, and greatly dilapidated, these ruins, from the breadth of their masses, the bold projection of some portions, and the depth of the numerous recesses, are strikingly magnificent; and the luxuriant ivy by which they are partly concealed adds materially to the beauty of the remains, which hold a prominent rank among the interesting monuments of feudal grandeur for which the districts formerly constituting the marches are distinguished.

The town is situated on an eminence near the confluence of the rivers Teme and Corve, by which latter it is bounded on the north-west, and across which a handsome stone bridge of three arches was erected by the corporation, in 1787. Over the Teme, which, after being joined by the Corve, describes a semicircle on the west and south sides of the town, is an ancient bridge, the entrance to which is under the arched passage of Broadgate, the only one remaining entire of the old town gates. Of the wall that surrounded Ludlow, begun in the 13th, and completed in the 32nd, of Edward I., not more than part of the foundation can be traced. From its elevated situation, the town has a pleasing and cheerful appearance; the streets are spacious, and the houses in general handsome and well built. It is paved, and lighted with gas; and from the salubrity of the air, and the beauty and interest of the surrounding country, it was the residence of numerous opulent and highly respectable families. A building has been erected for a reading-room and museum; and adjoining it is a large square edifice for public business, lectures, &c.: both are of brick with stone facings, and situated in Mill-street. There are a public subscription library, and two circulating libraries: assemblies are held in a suite of rooms in the New Buildings; and a small theatre is opened during the races, which take place in July, and are succeeded by a ball and public breakfast, given in the inner court of the castle. The trade is chiefly in malt: there are some corn-mills, a paper-mill, an iron-foundry, and a manufactory for woollen-cloth, flannel, yarn, and blankets, on the banks of the Teme; the river Corve turns a mill for grinding the bark used in a tannery, and gives motion also to some machinery for making cordage and sacking. An act was passed in 1846 for a railway from Shrewsbury, by Ludlow, to Hereford. The principal market-day is Monday, for grain; and there are smaller markets for provisions on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The fairs are on the Monday before Feb. 13th, Tuesday before Easter, May 1st, Wednesday in Whitsun-week, Aug. 21st, Sept. 28th, and Dec. 6th; the first and last are large marts for butter and cheese, and the others are for hops, horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs.

The town appears to have had a Charter of incorporation at a very early period. The charter was confirmed and renewed by Edward IV., from whose reign till that of Charles II. it underwent several modifications; in the time of William and Mary, on the petition of the inhabitants, it was restored to its original form. The corporation now consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, under the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76; the number of magistrates is seven. On the passing of the act just named, the inscription of the corporation seal was altered. The borough first exercised the elective franchise in the 12th of Edward IV., since which time it has continued to return two members to parliament: the right of election, by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, was extended to the £10 householders of an enlarged district, comprising an area of 1395 acres: the mayor is returning officer. The corporation hold quarterly courts of session for the borough, at which the recorder presides, for the trial of all offenders; and a court of record is held every Tuesday, under the charter of Edward IV., for the recovery of debts to any amount. The powers of the county debt-court of Ludlow, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Ludlow, and part of that of Church-Stretton. The corporation, as lords of the manor, hold an annual court leet; and pettysessions take place weekly. The market-house, or townhall, is a large plain building of brick: the guildhall, in which the courts for the borough are held, is a neat and commodious edifice of modern erection; and the borough gaol, erected by the corporation in 1764, in lieu of Goalford Tower, an ancient prison and gate of the town, is also a convenient building.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £19. 12. 6., and in the patronage of the Crown; present net income, £160 per annum. The salaries of a "preacher" and an "assistant to the rector," are paid out of the valuable Guild estates. The church, which was formerly collegiate, is a spacious and handsome cruciform structure, in the early and decorated English styles, with a noble square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles. The nave is separated from the aisles by gracefully pointed arches, resting on slender clustered columns; the choir is lighted by five elegant windows on each side, and by a noble east window of large dimensions, on which is painted the legendary history of St. Lawrence; the oak-stalls are still remaining, and the roof of richly carved oak is preserved in the several parts of this sumptuous edifice. In the north transept is St. John's chapel, in which is some ancient stained glass, representing the history of the Apostles, and the legend of the ring presented to Edward the Confessor, as a prognostic of his death, by some pilgrims from Jerusalem. In Corve-street is a consecrated burial-ground, presented by Lord Clive and the Hon. R. H. Clive, in 1824. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans. The free grammar school was restored by Edward VI., who vested in the corporation the estate of the guild or fraternity of Palmers, in Ludlow, to support this and other charities connected with the guild; and an act was passed in 1846, confirming to the charities estates worth £1500 a year: there are two exhibitions, of £45 per annum each for eleven years, to Balliol College, Oxford, for boys of the school, founded in 1704 by the Rev. Richard Greaves. A national school was established in 1813, with which a Blue-coat school has been incorporated; and from the funds of the latter, a house has been purchased and fitted up for the instruction of girls. Almshouses, adjoining the churchyard, were founded in 1486, by John Hosyer, who endowed them for thirty-three aged people: the present building was erected by the corporation, in 1758, at an expense of £1211. Four additional houses were founded and endowed by Mr. Charles Foxe. A workhouse and house of correction was endowed in 1674, by Thomas Lane, with land producing nearly £100 per annum; and among other valuable institutions are, one for the relief of lying-in women, a dispensary established in 1844, a winter-clothing society, a Church district-visiting society, and branches of the Societies for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. There are numerous bequests, also, for distribution among the poor generally. The union of Ludlow comprises thirty-one parishes or places, twenty-three of which are in the county of Salop, and eight in that of Hereford, altogether containing a population of 17,521: the workhouse is a large stone building, at Gravel Hill, to the east of the town.

Adjoining the castle is Dinham House, a plain mansion of brick, belonging to the family of Clive, in which Lucien Buonaparte, towards the close of the war with France, resided while in England. Among the religious establishments which flourished here, was the college of St. John the Evangelist, founded in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and after the Dissolution given by Elizabeth to the corporation for charitable uses; the remains are divided into separate tenements. Here was also a priory of White friars, founded about the year 1349, by Sir Lawrence de Ludlowe, Knt., and of which some vestiges may be traced in the environs without the Corvegate. Of the several mineral springs in the neighbourhood, Saltmore Well, below Ludford, contains a small quantity of carbonate of iron, with a little sulphate of magnesia, and a considerable portion of muriate of soda; it is highly beneficial in scorbutic cases, and a bath has been fitted up for visiters. Numerous fossils are found. Thomas Johnes, Esq., translator of Froissart; R. Payne Knight, Esq., author of an Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste, and other works; T. A. Knight, Esq., author of various works on Horticulture; and Dr. Badham, the translator of Juvenal, were residents of the town or neighbourhood.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.