1066 - BEGINNINGS
Walter de Lacy, a trusted member of the household of William fitzOsbern, arrived in England with the conquering army of William the Conqueror in 1066.
FitzOsbern was rewarded for his loyal part in William’s victory with an Earldom over the lands of Hereford. After three years of local resistance, FitzOsbern was able to claim his Earldom and planned to keep his new acquisition secure by developing a string of castles along the border of England and Wales.
Walter de Lacy was granted the manor of Stanton, which contained the site of present day Ludlow. Walter’s sons, first Roger and then Hugh, built the earliest surviving parts of the Castle that can still be seen today, and the de Lacy family retained the lordship until the end of the 13th century.
For more information about the de Lacys, visit www.delacychronicles.com
1473 - ROYAL CONNECTIONS
From 1473 to 1483, Ludlow Castle was the home of Prince Edward (known as one of the ’Princes in the Tower’). He was in residence here when he learned of the death of his father, Edward IV, and assumed the title of King Edward V.
Prince Arthur (eldest son of Henry VII) spent a few months at Ludlow with his wife Catherine of Aragon before his death here on 2nd April 1502. Catherine went on to marry Arthur’s brother, who became Henry VIII and their daughter, Mary, spent three winters at the castle between 1525 and 1528.
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Ludlow Castle was held by the Crown, except for a brief time during the Civil War and the Commonwealth.
COUNCIL OF THE MARCHES
The castle held great status as the centre of administration for the shires of the Marches and for Wales.
The Council of the Marches was set up by Edward IV when he sent his son Edward, Prince of Wales, to live at Ludlow in 1473 and its responsibilities grew over the years to become responsible for the government of Wales and the border counties.
For over a century Ludlow was seen as the capital of Wales and its courts were kept busy hearing criminal, civil and ecclesiastical cases.
The result was a surge in construction at the castle to house the judges. Although primarily an administration hub, the castle had many features of an Elizabethan stately home.
The Council was dissolved in 1641 but was revived with fewer powers from 1660 until it’s abolition in 1689.
1642 - THE CIVIL WAR
During the years of the Civil War (1642-46) the castle was a Royalist stronghold.
In 1646 the town was besieged by a Parliamentary force and the castle was surrendered after negotiation.
The castle was abandoned after 1689 when the Council of the Marches was dissolved and power was centralised in London. The townspeople looted the castle for useful materials and it soon became a ruin.
1760 - THE POWIS ESTATE
In the 1760s the Government considered demolition of the castle, but this would be costly, so instead, it was leased to the Earl of Powis in 1771. The castle began to attract visitors as part of the new tourism movement concentrating on the Picturesque style, and as part of this, walks were set out around the castle.
The Earl of Powis bought the castle in 1811 and it is now owned by the Trustees of the Powis Castle Estate on behalf of the family.
1900 CASTLE HOUSE RENOVATIONS
The Trustees are keen to halt any further decline in the buildings and to improve the visitor experience.
Castle House appears at first to be a Victorian mansion, set within the walls of the castle, but dig a little deeper and the archives will show that a Tudor tennis court, and the Castle Inn used to be located here. The building seen today was finished in around 1904, but had changed hands from the Estate to Shropshire Council.
The trustees reacquired Castle House from Shropshire Council who had been using it as civic offices. In 2005 the Trustees undertook a huge renovation project on the building and won a RICS Building Conservation Project of the Year award in the process by creating three holiday apartments on the first and second floors, and a large function room on the ground floor, where weddings and other events are now held. The Castle Gallery and Chapter 66 Café Restaurant, as well as the ticket office and residential apartment are also housed within this building.
2018 - Archaeology
Leon Bracelin is an archaeologist who takes tours around the castle on the first three weekends of the month during the summer.
He has found many links to the castle in houses in the surrounding area and gives regular talks locally and further afield.
2019 - Round Chapel Restoration
The Chapel of St Mary Magdalene is a rare survivor of a church with a round nave (the chancel was rectangular, and only survives as a footprint in the grass).
For the first time since it fell into ruin, the much-photographed Norman Chapel in the Inner Bailey was repaired and re-roofed by Shropshire building company Phillips & Curry who specialise in Building Conservation, conversion and intervention in 2019.
The roof was built off-site and was transported to the Castle in kit form for fabrication once the crenellations were rebuilt. The stone and mortar used was chosen to match a panel of post 16th century blocking on the Chapel so as to distinguish later work from the original. Stones from two local quarries was used: a green buff stone from Garstone Farm, Weobley, and a red buff stone from Weston Hill Bredwardine.
The trustees worked closely with English Heritage on the project to protect the fabric of the chapel and increase its longevity for future generations to enjoy. It now provides an all-weather wedding venue.