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The Ludlow Palmers raise money for the Conservation Trust for St Laurence, Ludlow; Charity Number 1114678

ABOUT ST LAURENCE, LUDLOW


Ludlow is a ‘new town’ which did not exist at the time the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086. It grew up around the new castle which was completed somewhere around 1095. There was a church here in the 12th century but the oldest parts of the building as we know it date from 1199. St Laurence's is notable for its large size and it is remarkable to note that the groundplan of the church of 1199 was almost identical to that of the present church. Built in the Transitional style, the lower parts of several of the walls remain exactly as they were built at that time.

St Laurence, Ludlow
St Laurence, Ludlow
In the early 14th century the south porch was added with a parvise room above. This is one of only three hexagonal porches in England. About the same time the north aisle was rebuilt in the early Decorated "Geometric" style and the windows remain from that period. The glass is all 19th and 20th century except for three coats of arms that are original. These commemorate Theobald de Verdon (died 1316) and his two wives Maud Mortimer (died 1315) and Elizabeth de Clare who survived him and went on to be widowed for a third time before founding Clare College in Cambridge.

It was in the 15th century that the church took on its present appearance. The aisle walls were heightened and a new nave arcade erected in the Perpendicular style with clerestory above. A new tower was built over the crossing on massive, yet graceful, pillars and the Chancel was extended and brightly illuminated by huge windows.

The Annunciation window in St Laurence, Ludlow
The Annunciation window
St Laurence's was lucky to escape significant damage after the Protestant Reformation and during the Civil War. While the north and south aisles of the nave contain no old glass except the three ancient coats of arms, the windows in the eastern part of the church appear largely as they would have been when they were first glazed around 1450 or even earlier. In the Lady Chapel on the south side is a Jesse window in the Decorated ‘Reticulated’ style of the 14th century. On the north side is the chapel of the Palmers' Guild with quite magnificent windows including the ‘Legend of the Palmers’ and a beautiful ‘Annunciation’. The Great East Window above the high altar in the chancel tells the story of St Laurence who met his end by being barbecued on a metal grill. References to St Laurence are scattered around the church where he can be easily identified by the grill he carries. The other windows in the chancel are equally significant, displaying a wide variety of holy men and women from the Old and New Testaments. There are even windows showing people disobeying some of the ten commandments.

Tapstar misericord in St Laurence, Ludlow
Tapster misericord
Of a similar age to the glass and equally important are the carved oak choir stalls. The misericords are particularly fine and interesting and repay careful study. Their subjects vary considerably and include political ones: with carvings of the badges of Richard II, Henry VI and Richard, Duke of York. Richard of York owned Ludlow castle and lost his life fighting against the supporters of the Lancastrian Henry VI at Wakefield in 1460. His ‘falcon and fetterlock’ badge appears in several places in the church. Some of the misericords have a religious message while others show charming scenes of daily life. Not to be missed are the bench ends, which include beautiful representations of the ‘Lord of Misrule’ and a ‘Boy Bishop’. Perhaps the most lovely of all is the ‘Pieta’ - Mary holding the dead body of Christ carved perhaps 40-50 years before Michelangelo's famous sculpture in St Peters.