Ludlow Castle, Shropshire.
Question – what do Henry VIII’s elder brother, a tragic twelfth century love story, an annual arts festival, a fictional diocesan deliverance consultant, and a Viking re-enactment society, all have in common?
The answer of course, is Ludlow Castle.
And that’s what I love about Ludlow – it’s been sitting at the centre of events in Ludlow for so long, it’s acquired all sorts of history, inspired so many people and continues to play a role in the life of this vibrant town.
We know for a fact, that Prince Arthur, the elder brother of Henry VIII, died at Ludlow in 1502, just weeks after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The young couple had set up court in Ludlow, which at the time, was the centre of the Council of Wales and the Marches, but Arthur and Catherine were taken ill. How the history of England may have differed if he’d survived…
The tragic twelfth century love story of Marion de la Bruyere, gives the castle one of its best ghost stories (she is supposed to have killed her lover and herself, and to haunt the Hanging Tower). I’m so sure I’ve read a fictionalised account of this in the dim and distant past, but can’t remember who it was by – do let me know if you happen to have read it too.
For years, Ludlow has staged an annual arts festival, using the castle as the stage for Shakespearean plays (although I understand that following some difficulties, this may be slightly different in 2013) – I’ve been to a few of these, frying under the hot sunshine some years, getting drenched in others – all part of the fun and atmosphere!
I wonder who else remembers a young Anthony Head as Henry V, back in 1977… urrmm.
Then there are the literary Ludlow Castles. I’m sure there are many, but my favourite book to feature the castle, is Phil Rickman’s The Smile of A Ghost – I love reading books set in places I actually know – it lends them a special atmosphere, and guarantees that any subsequent visit, has you looking out for exact locations in the action. (The heroine is Merrily Watkins – fictional Diocesan Deliverance Consultant for Herefordshire).
And for all those location spotters – if you’ve seen the charming film, Faintheart – you’ve seen inside Ludlow Castle – much of the action, including the re-enactment scene at the end, is set in the castle grounds. I had a quick look in Blogland, checking details about Faintheart and am astonished to find that it gets only average reviews – take no notice, it is a lovely film – perfect feel-good stuff.
And this is all just scratching the surface.
For what it’s worth, I prefer to think about the early medieval history and the characters, especially the Mortimers who owned the castle in the fourteenth century. But walk around the outside of the walls, and I defy you not to imagine poor Marion, flinging herself to her death.
More than enough history at Ludlow to satisfy any history junkie.
Tickled your fancy? Read more…
I’m a fan of the Merrily Watkins books by Phil Rickman – the one that features Ludlow Castle, is called The Smile of A Ghost – I’m not one for advertising, so if you want to read it, I’m sure your favourite book supplier will be able to get it for you.