The tranquil, romantic face of Shropshire belies an often turbulent past that is revealed at scores of sites by the remains of dykes, ramparts and hill forts, and by the castles of the marcher lords, who seem to have divided their time between fighting the Welsh and fighting each other. The county boasts some of Britain’s most important Roman sites, notably at Wroxeter, which at one time was the fourth largest Roman town in the land. Shropshire beckons with a landscape of great variety: the little hills and valleys, the lakes and canals of the northwest, the amazing parallel hill ranges towards the south, the rich farming plains around Oswestry, the forests of Clun and Wyre, Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. This stretch of the Severn Valley is now a World Heritage Centre, ranking it alongside the Pyramids, the Grand Canyon and the Taj Mahal. Add to this the historic towns of Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Oswestry, several interesting museums, the churches and the stately homes and the glorious gardens, and you have a part of the world just waiting to be explored, whether by car, bike or on foot. South Shropshire affords a trip through history, including the wonderful town of Ludlow and the spectacular scenery of Wenlock Ridge, Long Mynd and Clun.
Often called ‘the perfect historic town’, Ludlow is an enchanting place with more than 500 listed buildings and a medieval street pattern that has been kept virtually intact. There are some lovely walks along the banks of the River Teme with its plentiful wildlife, markets on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, a livestock market on Mondays, and regular flea markets on Sundays.
Ludlow Castle was built by the Normans in the 11th century, one of a line of castles along the Marches to keep out the Welsh. Under its protection a large town was planned and built - and prospered, due to the collection and sale of wool and the manufacture of cloth. The Castle has been home to many distinguished families and to royalty: Edward V, Prince Arthur and other royal children were brought up in Ludlow, and the Castle became the headquarters of the Council of the Marches, which governed Wales and the border counties until 1689. The parish Church of St Laurence is one of the largest in the county, reflecting the town’s affluence at the time of its rebuilding in the 15th century. There are fine misericords and stained glass, and the poet AE Housman, author of A Shropshire Lad, is commemorated on the outer wall of the church; his ashes lie outside the north door. Other places that should be seen include Castle Lodge, once a prison and later home of the officials of the Council of the Marches, and the fascinating houses that line Broad Street.