Occupying the high ground above two nearby rivers Teme and Corve, it was
the principle castle of thirty-two that guarded the Welsh Marches.
Its very early history is somewhat hazy, due to the lack of written records, but it appears that Walter de Lacy a follower and leading member of William fitzOsbern’s household of knights, was given Ludlow as well as control of other lands as part payment for the success of the Conqueror’s battle over King Harold at Hastings.
When Walter died in 1085, he was succeeded by his son Roger de Lacy and it is he who is said to have built the first castle or timbered motte and bailey at Ludlow. In 1088 Roger sided with Robert de Belleme and other barons in the first rebellion against King William II (Rufus) in favour of Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy who being the first born of the late Conqueror, should have been given the crown of England. When the rebellion failed it seems Roger de Lacy was forgiven. By 1096 Roger was in trouble again when he joined Robert de Mowbray Earl of Northumberland in the second rebellion against Rufus. This time he was stripped of all his lands and banished from England.
William Rufus then handed all Roger’s lands, including Ludlow, to his brother Hugh de Lacy.
On his death in c.1115 it reverted to the crown.
From the civil war of the 1140’s between King Stephen and Empress Matilda, a tragic love story has come down to us which could be true or false. It tells us about a rival baron, Joce de Dinan, a supporter of Stephen, who captured the castle together with Gilbert de Lacy and Arnold de Lis. Though prisoners they were allowed freedom of movement. Arnold soon fell in love with a young lady of the castle, Marion de Bruer. Feeling pity for them she helped Arnold and Gilbert to escape. Shortly afterwards with the aid of a rope, Marion secretly admitted Arnold back into the castle and into her private chamber. Unbeknown to her, Arnold had left the rope in place for Gilbert and his men to get inside and open the gate to their main forces who slaughtered the garrison and captured the castle. On discovery of her lover’s treachery, she killed him with his own sword and then jumped to her death from a window. Another story from this chaotic time was when King Stephen lay siege to the castle. A grappling iron was apparently thrown from a window entangling Stephen’s ally, Henry of Scotland, threatening to drag him from his horse but Stephen rescued him just in time.
Over the following years the property changed hands many times,
being embroiled in major political power struggles.
1301, Roger Mortimer become Lord of Ludlow and plotted to put King Edward’s son on the English throne.
In the 15th century Richard, Duke of York made Ludlow his base in the War of the Roses.
Elizabeth I appointed Sir Henry Sidney as President of the Council of Marches, to Ludlow where he carried out considerable alterations.
During the Civil War Ludlow was a Royalist stronghold and was besieged by Parliamentary troops but a negotiated surrender was arranged to avoid the usual slighting.
It is now owned by Powis Estates and is open to the public
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