Ludlow, Shropshire, is a traditional medieval market town around 30 miles south of Shrewsbury. Though it is only a small town with a population of 11,000, it is considered to be the largest in South Shropshire. Many medieval and historical structures and Tudor half-timber buildings are entirely intact.
Today, Ludlow is famed for its exquisite dining, with some of the best food and drink in the country.
A History of Ludlow
Ludlow has played an important part in military history – especially throughout Medieval times. Due to its proximity to both Hereford and the Welsh border, as well as the confluence of the rivers Corve and Teme, the town was considered to be of national importance. In 1472, Ludlow became the seat of the Council of Wales and the Marches.
Ludlow is famed for the beautiful Ludlow Castle. Work began by Roger de Lacy in approximately 1075, though it was continuously built on until around 1170; up until the addition of larger outer baileys. Ludlow Castle was imperative in the defence of the town, and it played an important role in the Marches, the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War alike. Through the medieval years, Ludlow was also able to prosper through the wool trade – mostly due to its close proximity to Shropshire. In the 16th century, the castle was occupied by both Henry VIII and his heir, Prince Arthur.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Ludlow grew significantly. The town was massively expanded, with major developments in housing, coaching inns, public houses and other structures. Horatio Nelson played a prominent part in the town’s growth, as he was awarded the freedom of the borough in 1802.
In more recent history, Ludlow has fought to keep its historic identity, battling large supermarkets who wish to alter the image of the town. The town is now also home to many artisan stores, antique dealers and art sellers.
Things to Do in Ludlow
Ludlow castle is a true architectural wonder; though it might sit in ruins today, visitors can still marvel at the sheer size and prominence of the ancient fortification. It runs a range of activities perfect for children and adults, making it a great option for a fun-filled family day out.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Ludlow Market was operating at its peak. Due to how close the town is to Wales, Hereford and Shropshire, it was a great place for sellers to barter – especially those in the cloth trade.
The market still runs 4 times a week (all-year-round), offering a busy yet welcoming atmosphere – ideal for browsing the great range of handmade artisan goods.
Mortimer Forest is a truly magical place; with fantastic views, walks and hikes. A great place to relax and unwind, the forest is set over a jaw-dropping one-thousand hectare, so it’s strongly recommended to bring a map and a compass!
Mortimer Forest is known for its intricate flora and fauna – visitors can go on the hunt for rare woodland plants and animals, before retiring for an afternoon picnic.
Places to Stay in Ludlow
The Feathers Hotel
The Feathers Hotel is instantly recognisable; it’s a large, Tudor style premises with a distinct white and black half-timber front. Traditional windows and intricate decorations mark The Feathers as a must-stay place for anyone looking to experience the true historical value of Ludlow.
The antique hotel offers a good range of four-star fine dining options, with a varied selection of charismatic and intimate rooms.
The Townhouse Ludlow
The Townhouse is another example of a well-preserved half-timber building. Not much information is available on the structure’s history, though it looks as if it may have traditionally served as a coach-inn or a public house.
Each room has been individually themed, planned and decorated, incorporating period-style furnishings with some of the highest-quality, softest beddings available. The hotel has been designed exclusively with your comfort in mind, so you’re bound to have a comfortable, cosy stay.
The Wheatsheaf Inn
The Wheatsheaf Inn is a contemporary, luxury hotel based on Lower Broad Street – a short distance from the vibrant town centre. The building itself dates back to the 1660s (and has been operating as a pub since the 1750s), though unlike the hotels listed above, the Wheatsheaf does not have a half-timber exterior.
The interior is an intricate blend of bespoke luxury features and an original wooden finish. The hotel itself is described as being placed against the ‘prettiest street in Great Britain’.
Places to Eat & Drink in Ludlow
A contemporary Asian-fusion restaurant, Chang Thai is a must-try place to eat in the heart of historic Ludlow. Serving authentic Thai food on an extensive menu, the restaurant promises a truly unique atmosphere with a busy, accommodating ambiance.
Chang Thai also features a relaxing bamboo garden, with a fully heated patio area.
Mortimer’s, named after the expansive Mortimer Forest, is a fine dining restaurant in Ludlow. Featured on the Michelin guide 2020, it’s a strong contender for a Michelin star!
Serving a menu consisting primarily of Modern-British food, Mortimer’s only uses fresh, seasonal ingredients – ideally from local sources! Fronted by head chef, Wayne Smith, Mortimer’s promises to deliver outstanding quality with all of their dishes.
The French Pantry
This cute bistro can be found on Tower Street. Listed in the Michelin guide, as well as being the proud recipient of 2 AA rosettes, the French Pantry serves French-inspired dishes from the comfort of a fairy-lit café.
The French Pantry is a great place for a small bite to eat, with a great selection of gourmet cakes and coffees, or as a venue to enjoy a delicious, wholesome and fresh meal.
In & Around Ludlow