A Virtual Tour of St Laurence's

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A walk around the church

History

Church and skyLudlow town came into existence in about 1100, so the first church must have been built soon after this; we know that the church was rebuilt in 1199. The magnificent building, which we see today, is the result of many alterations and rebuilding during the next 300 years. In the 14th century the North Aisle was rebuilt, the south transept and the porch were added, followed by the North transept. Between 1433 and 1470 a massive rebuilding took place when the chancel was extended, the nave pillars and clerestory built, the whole church heightened and the tower, one of the church's chief glories, was completed. This rebuilding gave the church its characteristically perpendicular appearance.

map of church

The Nave and Aisles

The West window, perpendicular in style, filled with Victorian glass, showing the Lords of Ludlow Castle and ending with the unfortunate Prince Arthur, who died in Ludlow and whose heart is buried in the chancel of the church.

In the North aisle note the decorated style windows with the oldest glass in the Church at the top. See the Royal Coat of Arms (1628). Notice all round the walls the piscina alcoves, a reminder that in the Middle Ages the aisles were divided by screens into small chapels each with its own altar. In the 18th century the nave was filled with box pews and galleries, all removed during the Victorian restoration.


The Crossing

Look up into the lantern tower with its magnificent pillars and wooden vault. The tower is 132 feet high, with a peal of eight bells.


North Transept

This contains the historic Snetzler organ of 1764 with its original case. This stood formerly on a gallery under the tower and was removed here by the Victorians, when it was greatly enlarged, mainly by Gray and Davison. This splendid four-manual instrument was restored by Nicholsons of Worcester in 1982, 1985, completed in 1988; recently it has been cleaned and overhauled in 2007.

St John's Chapel

The windows - the most complete set of original stained glass in the church. On the left is the 'Golden Window' with St Christopher and St Catherine with her wheel. Ahead is the Palmer's Window, telling the story, alas only legendary, of how the Palmers got their charter from King Edward the confessor.

The Chancel

The most impressive part of the church, all part of the 15th century rebuilding.

The windows are mostly restored, with the east window (1832) telling the story of St Laurence and his gridiron martyrdom.

The tombs are mostly of officials of the council of the Marches in Ludlow Castle and dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The choir stalls and woodwork: Ludlow, though not strictly a collegiate church, was served by many priests and these are their stalls. The upper carvings are Victorian, as are the figures on the reredos, but the stalls and misericords are 15th century. They are a fascinating set and show heraldic devices (which also appear in the roof) and scenes from everyday life.

The Lady Chapel

Once used to house the town fire engine. Notice the wooden pegs for the fire buckets. Look at the Jesse Window, 14th century but much restored. In the branches of the tree, springing from Jesse, above the altar and rising to Our Lord at the top, are many birds and animals.


South Transept

The 'mixed salad' or haphazard collection of glass in the East Window are fragments of medieval glass. There are also traces of colouring which would once have adorned the whole church. This chapel is now reserved for private prayer.


The Exterior

A walk round the church will reveal, particularly from the north side, the magnificent proportions of the building. Also, the stonework shows how it was heightened in the 15th century. The memorial table to A E Housman, author of A Shropshire Lad, is on the wall near the North door.

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