The exact date of Ludow’s build is unknown, but it is between the 11th and 12th centuries. It stems from the corner of manor of Stanton. The de Lacy family owned it for the first few centuries of its life, but in the 13th century it began changing hands. Built from limestone found on the site, the castle offered a coveted defensive position in southern Wales. It’s first centuries were spent building and expanding it, giving it both Norman and Medieval aspects. Ludow witnessed many conflicts between its owners and the crown, and after it fell into the de Lacy hands, it slowly found its way to the hands of Roger Mortimer, lover of Queen Isabella of England. He would become the Earl of March and entertain Edward III here. When Mortimer was inevitably executed, his wife, Joan, was allowed to stay here. After which his sons (and grandsons) would take claim of the castle, but Richard II would take wardship and ultimately control of them throughout his reign.
In the 15th century, Henry IV protected the castle from Owain Glyndŵr during his revolt. Roger’s brother Edmund was placed in charge, but ultimately captured and joined Owain Glyndŵr. The next heir, also named Edmund, was arrested and taken to South Wales until Henry V granted him his land back, and he went to fight for the crown. Edmund died penniless and childless in 1425. His heir would be his great-nephew through his sister: Richard, Duke of York. Richard modernized the castle and moved his son’s household there by the 1450s. During the War of Roses, Ludow became a retreat for the Yorkists away from the frontlines, other than for the Battle of Ludford Bridge. Henry VI briefly held the castle, but reunited with Richard’s heir when he became Edward IV.
Edward IV set the first council of Wales to govern the land there for the crown based out of Ludlow, and when his first son was born, he sent him there to rule as Prince of Wales. A tradition bloomed from this as Henry VII sent his own son Arthur there with his own council. It was there Arthur would die shortly after marrying Catherine of Aragon. The Tudor king refused to second his next heir there, and it remained without the titleholder until his granddaughter, Mary Tudor, spent a little over two years there. The council remained under the supervision of a president of the council chosen by the crown. Legislation in 1534 cemented the role of the council in Wales. This use kept the castle relevant and therefore up to date in terms of construction for the time. The appointment of Sir Henry Sidney during the reign of Elizabeth I led to extensive upgrades (including a tennis court) and restoration.
James I declared his son, future Charles I, Prince of Wales, in the castle in 1616, and it was his main residence. During the English Civil War, the surrounding people supported the Royalist, and garrisons were sent to protect the castle. It was used during the interregnum and reestablished its original purpose when Charles II regained the throne, but the castle itself never recovered from the war. Restoration attempts were made, but when they ceased in 1689, the castle quickly fell into disrepair. Some petitions were made to give it another attempt, but many people used the castle for material and much of it was stripped.
A man named Henry Hebert, Earl of Powis, took on a 31-year lease from the crown to restore it in 1772, but died shortly after. Luckily, his son, George, continued his efforts, and it became a popular spot for painters. George’s heir, Lord Clive, attempted to keep the lease, but was fought by the military who wanted use of the castle. When the government dropped their interest, Clive was offered to buy the property.
He restored and renovated major parts to create the Castle House overlooking the north. The castle has since been maintained and held by the various Earls of Powis, and leased to various tenants. It is currently open to the public and one of the few places you can visit with 10 centuries worth of history.
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