50 Church members enjoyed a great day visiting Pembridge and Ludlow. Some months ago Daphne suggested we visit the church where she and Selwyn were married because there was to be a special celebration of the completion of “The Pembridge Tapestries” together with a flower festival. Everyone agreed it was a suggestion worth following up and that to ‘make a day of it’ we might go on to Ludlow.
So on 23 May we left Llanddarog at 8 o’clock and on reaching Pembridge had some very welcome refreshment followed by time in St Mary’s the Virgin Church which stands on a steep rise to the east of the market, and is unusual in having a detached timber-framed bell-house to the north. This is octagonal in plan with three storeys having hipped and pyramidal roofs. The church was built between 1206 and 17, with a rebuilding after 1668/69. The church itself is a substantial building with an aisled six-bay nave with clerestories and north and south transepts, and a lower chancel with a modern north vestry and evidence on the south interior wall of a chapel arch, with an early 13th century capital. The main entrance is from the north, via a porch. For the rest, the narrow chancel, built of roughly course irregular blocks, may date from the 13th century while the ashlar nave, arcades and transepts are early to mid-14th century.
What an amazing scene! Beautiful floral arrangements were everywhere in this beautiful church – evidence of great thought being put into them and considerable skill.
The tapestries were something else! In 2012 a group of interested stitchers learnt new stitches to be used in the tapestries, subsequently meeting fortnightly to marvel at each other’s work, obtain more supplies, discuss how to overcome problems or just enjoy each other’s company over coffee and cake. Historians living in the village researched and developed ideas for each of twelve planned pieces of work. So many locals were involved in researching, preparing and stitching the tapestries, including local school children.
The tapestries, therefore, represent the history of Pembridge from Norman times to the present day: Norman Pembridge; The Bell Tower; The Mortimers Build the Church; Timber Framed Houses; The Market Hall; The Civil War; Alms House for the poor; Education in Pembridge; Leen Hereford Castle; Pembridge and the Steam Age; The New Inn; 20th Century Pembridge. They were situated in various places in the church and the flower arrangements echoed them so well.
We moved on to Ludlow and separated in various directions for further refreshment. It is a very interesting town with a thriving open air market, a castle and an 11th century church.
Ludlow Castle (started in 1085) has played a key role in some turbulent events in English history. One of its 14th-century owners, Roger Mortimer, helped his mistress Queen Isabella, in the overthrow of her husband King Edward II. In 1473, the Prince of Wales and his brother were held here before their mysterious death in the Tower of London. In 1502 Prince Arthur, Henry VII’s son and heir to the throne, died at Ludlow. Edward IV founded the Council of the Marches of Wales in the late 15th century, its headquarters were in Ludlow Castle. The Council administered most of Wales and Shropshire and the adjacent English counties. The Council’s courts were very active, and the castle and Ludlow were full of lawyers, clerks and royal messengers. The Council of the Marches ceased to exist in 1689, and after this the castle gradually fell into disuse and disrepair, although Ludlow itself was still on a wave of prosperity. The castle was bought by the 2nd Earl of Powis in 1811; and is still owned by the current Earl of Powis. A large amount of conservation work has taken place under the stewardship of the previous and current owners to arrest the decline in the fabric of the castle and to make it an enjoyable and safe place to visit.
Saint Laurence’s Church was established as a place of worship when the Normans founded Ludlow in the late 11th century. It is situated in the centre of Ludlow on the hill around which the medieval town developed. The church is a member of the Greater Churches Group and is the largest parish church in Shropshire. It was one of only 18 churches given a five-star rating in England’s Thousand Greatest Churches by Simon Jenkins (1999) and is described as the “cathedral of the Marches”. The tower is 135 feet (41 metres) high and commands excellent views of the town and surrounding countryside. Notable features include an extensive set of misericords in the choir stalls as well as fine stained glass windows.
Of course the trip didn’t happen on its own, so thank you Daphne and Mair for organising it. We all had a really good day.