Grid Ref: SO 508 746
Date: 19 April 2013


For a modest market town, Ludlow has an interesting place in the most important events of the 16th century. Henry Tudor (1457 – 1509) became King Henry VII in 1485 when he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire. To unite the Houses of Lancaster and York which had fought the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, Henry married Elizabeth of York, the daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Their eldest son was Prince Arthur (20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502). As part of the dynastic politics of the time, Prince Arthur was betrothed in 1497, at the age of 11, to Catherine of Aragon (16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) to form an Anglo-Spanish alliance against France. In 1499 they were married by proxy at Arthur's Tickenhall Manor in Bewdley, Worcestershire. With Catherine still in Spain, the couple communicated in Latin, only to discover later that they had learned different pronunciations which meant that they could not converse. Catherine landed at Plymouth on 2 October 1501. The marriage service took place at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on 14 November 1501. Arthur was thus 15 years and two months at his marriage and Catherine almost 16. The couple then went to live in Ludlow Castle. In March 1502, Arthur and Catherine were afflicted by an unknown illness, "a malign vapour with proceeded from the air". While Catherine recovered, Arthur died on 2 April 1502.

Subsequently Arthur's younger brother, Henry, who was to become Henry VIII, married Catherine of Aragon. The church forbade a man from marrying his brother's widow so everything hinged on whether the marriage of Arthur and Catherine had been consummated. They were married for 4 months but she was not pregnant. Subsequently, when Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine, it was in his interest to claim that his marriage to her was invalid. This would require the marriage to have been consummated but Catherine herself at the time of the divorce claimed the contrary. Thereby hangs the long tale of Henry's six wives, the English Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries - and Ludlow Castle played its part.


Ludlow Castle
View of some of the main castle buildings
Ludlow Castle
A view farther to the right with the town beyond
View from the outer bailey


Walter de Lacy was a member of the household of William FitzOsbern who came to England as part of the Norman Conquest in 1066. FitzOsbern was given an Earldom and given charge of Hereford. In the manner of feudal times, the barons divided their lands into units for their supporters in return for military service. Walter de Lacy was granted parts of South Shropshire and he is associated with the earliest work on the castle. Roger than Hugh de Lacy, two of the sons of Walter built the earliest parts of the castle still visible today. The castle is on high ground and is bounded in part by the Rivers Teme and Corve. A well was dug from the inner bailey down to the level of the River Teme. The de Lacy's held the castle until the the middle of the 13th century when it was acquired by Geoffrey de Geneville, 1st Baron Geneville who was born somewhere between 1225 and 1233 and lived until October 1314. Geoffrey de Geneville rebuilt part of the inner bailey.

In 1301, Roger de Mortimer, 3rd Baron Mortimer and 1st Earl of March (1287-1330) married Joan de Geneville, who was the heiress of her grandfather Geoffrey de Geneville and his wife, Maud de Lacy. She was a rich heiress and Roger Mortimer thus acquired estates in the Welsh borders known as the Welsh Marches as well as in County Meath in Ireland. The Welsh lands included Ludlow Castle and the town. He added to the internal complex of buildings and the Mortimer family held Ludlow for over a century.

Mortimer led the Marcher lords in a revolt against King Edward II. Mortimer went to France where he was joined by Edward II's queen, Isabella who was his mistress. While they were in France, Mortimer's wife, Joan was imprisoned in Skipton Castle and at Pontefract in Yorkshire. Mortimer and Isabella led a successful invasion of England, Edward was deposed and murdered in 1327 at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. Mortimer and Isabella ruled England for three years before being defeated by Edward's son, Edward III. Mortimer was executed at Tyburn. Mortimer's wife was again imprisoned for a time but in 1336 regained her lands when she was pardoned for her husband's crimes by Edward III. Roger and Joan had 12 surviving children and Joan lived until 1356.

In 1425 the castle was inherited by Richard of York and through his son, who became Edward IV in 1461, Ludlow Castle passed to the crown. It became the location for the Council in the Marches of Wales. It was renovated in the 16th century. Ludlow Castle was a Royalist stronghold in the Civil War but was captured by Parliament 1646 and garrisoned. With the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the castle was repaired and the Council of the Marches came back into operation until 1689 at the end of the reign of James II. The castle then was left to decline but was leased from the crown in 1772 by Henry Herbert, Earl of Powis (1702-1773). His brother-in-law, Edward Clive, 2nd Baron Clive (1754-1839) bought the castle in 1811. He was the son of Robert Clive, known as Clive of India (1725-1774). Lord Clive built a mansion in the outer bailey but the castle per se was left as a ruin.


doorway   Doorway
View towards the inner bailey   Canon outside the walls
Round Tower   doorway
The round tower stands on its own   Entrance to the tower
Entrance   Modern effigies
Inside the tower   A knight and his lady

Wikipedia articles on Henry VII, Catherine of Aragon, Arthur Prince of Wales, Ludlow Castle, Geoffrey de Geneville, Roger Mortimer, Joan de Geneville,
Ludlow Castle website

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