History of LudlowWhen the Domesday Book survey was made in 1086 the site of Ludlow was part of the large manor of Stanton and seems to have been unoccupied. After the Norman Conquest, Stanton, and many other manors had been granted to Walter Lacy (d. 1085), a henchman of William the Conqueror. It was Walter’s son, Roger, who began to build the castle a few years later.
The first civilian settlement was probably at Dinham, where the remnant of a central open space can still be seen.
By 1138 the place name ‘Lodelowe’ was already in use, suggesting that a larger town had been created. This ‘new town’ was part of a deliberate policy of town plantation by the Normans.
Such towns helped to pacify the surrounding countryside, still seething with anti- Norman sentiments, while the tolls of the market, the fines of the courts and the rents paid by the burgesses were welcome sources of revenue for the seigneurial lords.
The town plan was rectilinear, though it was adapted to fit in with the topography and with pre-existing route ways. The town probably grew in phases, the first being the wide high street or market place running east of the castle. This ancient high street has been partly filled in, e.g. by the rows of shops west of the Buttercross, but its original boundaries can still be traced, e.g. along the southern edge of Pepper lane.
The next phase was probably along the prehistoric route way, now followed by Corve Street and Old Street. The Broad Street / Mill Street unit, south of the High street, with its ‘very regular layout’ of main roads and service lanes, was perhaps laid out later, as were properties along the routes converging from the east one known as upper and lower Galdford.
The building of the outer bailey of the castle in the late 12th century may have altered part of the original street plan of the new town. The land laid out for settlement was divided into long, relatively narrow burgage plots, each of which was rented by a burgess for 12 pence a year.
The length and width of burgages varied in different parts of the town but most of them were 33ft, 49½ ft or 66 ft wide, i.e. multiples of 16½ ft a standard medieval measurement called a pole or perch. Some burgages have been amalgamated or subdivided but many can be detected, e.g. the bull hotel, which is exactly 33ft wide, or the Rose and Crown in church street and the two shops in front of it, which occupy a property 49½ ft wide. The total area burgaged in this way covered some 350 acres, an exceptionally ambitious town plan.
The parish boundaries on John Woods' map of Ludlow, drawn in 1835, show the extent of this area while the outlier of Stanton Lacy, long known as Castle Meadow, can also be seen. Some of the peripheral burgages were never settled, e.g. parts of Linney where the land was liable to flooding; but as a whole the planned town was a success. Settlers were attracted from further afield and in 1199 it was necessary to rebuild and enlarge the parish church.
In the 13th century the town continued to prosper and in 1233 license was obtained to build stonewalls. By the end of the century these had been built round the central part of the town with large gateways in Broad Street, Old Street, Galdeford and in Corve Street and smaller postern gates in Mill Street, Dinham and Linney.
Substantial built up areas were left outside these defences though ‘the lower bar of Corve’ near the present Linney turn gave some protection to the long and important suburb of Corve Street.
Reproduced from 'Ludlow - an official guide' Copyright Ludlow and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce