Ludlow Palmers
helping to conserve the fabric and treasures of St Laurence's
History of St Laurence, Ludlow

The site of St Laurence's was of religious or ritual significance in the pre-Christian era. A burial mound was removed in 1199. There may have been a church on the site in the Saxon period but the evidence for this is entirely conjectural.

A church was built on the site in the 12th Century for which archaeological evidence has been found. But by the end of the century the rapid growth of Ludlow required a larger church.

In 1199 a new church was built in the Transitional style. It was very large for a parish church of that time and occupied 80% of the footprint of the church today. The extent of this church can still be traced in the lower parts of the external walls of the west end, the south aisle, the south and east walls of the Lady Chapel and the east and north walls of St John's Chapel.

In the late 13th Century the south doorway was inserted and a two-bay chancel was added. Later, around 1300 the south porch was added in the early Decorated style.

During the 14th Century there were several phases of alteration and extension, all in the gradually evolving Decorated style. First, in 1305-08, the north aisle was re-built; glazing in three of the windows can be dated to before 1320. Then came the transepts. The north transept appears from the detailing of the windows to have been completed in the 1350s whereas the south transept appears to be earlier. However there is a record of a donation for the north transept in 1321 so it may be that they were started at the same time but completion of the north transept was delayed because of the depression following the Black Death in 1349.

Starting in 1433, work began on a major remodelling the Church in the Perpendicular style. Apart from the tower, this was largely complete by 1450; the chancel roof is datable to then from the heraldry in the bosses. The tower was substantially finished by 1470.

During the later middle ages the Church was filled with enclosed chantry chapels dedicated by a variety of patrons to a variety of saints. As many as 16 of these occupied the transepts, aisles and parts of the nave.

At the Reformation the chantry chapels were removed and the colourful wall painting was whitewashed over — although some remains are still faintly visible today. Box pews, and later galleries, were installed in the nave.

In 1859-60 there was a major restoration under the architect George Gilbert Scott. This created the general appearance of the Church that we see today by removing most of the post-Reformation alterations. The pews in the aisles and nave that were installed in 1860 were removed progressively between 2010 and 2019.

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