Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ludlow – 7 August 2011

As we have travelled around England, we've seen many wonderful historical towns, with exciting looking old Tudor or other era buildings, and often said 'it would be wonderful to come back and stay there'. This weekend we actually did this for the first time.

Ludlow has always stuck in our mind as one of the most beautiful towns in England. A guidebook said it had the most Michelin Stars per head of population outside of Paris. (We don't believe that however, as Bray is smaller and has 3 times as many Michelin stars.) We booked into the Feathers Hotel, one of the most beautiful Tudor buildings in the town and when we checked in, we discovered they had upgraded us to the honeymoon suite, so our plans for a special weekend suddenly got better.

We set out for Ludlow, stopping off at Deerfield, a tiny town which has two pre-Norman churches. The oldest is from Saxon times, 'lost' for years as a house was built onto and “over” it.

Tewkesbury is another stunning town, with a huge Abbey, and streets of wonderful old buildings.

North again we visited Spetchley Park Gardens. These were not at their best for borders, but had many wonderful roses, all labelled, so we noted some which looked and smelt the best. The church on the estate is definitely worth a visit, with a very elaborate tomb near the altar.

Our next exciting find of the day was marked on the map as a tithe barn. This turned out to the oldest cruck-framed barn in the UK. It is an amazing structure, with each huge floor to roof cruck beam is one continuous piece of an oak tree, selected and felled for its special shape.

Before reaching Ludlow, we stopped at Berrington. This palladian stately home gives a look at how life in the country used to be. The entire house is open for viewing, and affords a very comprehensive look at the roles of the servants below stairs.

Sunday is the day for an antiques market in the Ludlow castle square. We browsed the markets, walked down to the river and the silk mill, and then visited the castle. The castle dates back to Norman times, but is now just a ruin, with several towers which can be climbed. We enjoyed wandering around it in the sunshine and seeing the rare circular Norman chapel.

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