ST LAURENCE, LUDLOW, SALOP
It’s the tower that does it. The gateway to the Western Marches, Ludlow was an important frontier town, complete with castle, and your first sight of it from afar is drawn to the great mid-fifteenth-century central tower of the church.
Ludlow remains an unspoilt town. The church is so surrounded by later infilling that you are not aware of its size until you push the door open and enter the vast aisled nave. Although there are parts of earlier building from the twelfth century onwards, what you see of the church today is largely from this mid-fifteenth-century rebuild – and what a rebuild. The chapels at the ends of the aisles contain much medieval glass, such as a restored Jesse Tree in the south chapel, but this is outdone by the north chapel. The fifteenth-century story of the Palmers’ Guild in its east window is topped by a splendid carved mediaeval canopy of honour; windows on its north side include the Annunciation, Saint Christopher, and the Twelve Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem, but do look for the small kneeling donor figure of John Parys in the first window.
The rebuild of the chancel was completed by 1450: don’t miss the stalls and misericords, as well as some fine post-Reformation monuments; but again there is great medieval glass. A south window features six of the Ten Commandments and above the reconstructed reredos is the great east window. Most of it is taken up with the martyrdom of St Laurence; above it – at the apex – is the Holy Trinity, below are the Virgin and Child; St John the Baptist with the Agnus Dei, St Anne teaching the Virgin to read; Bishop Spufford of Hereford (1422-1448); a king; and St Laurence himself. Turn away from this, and, at the crossing, look up into the interior of the great tower. Housman – who is buried here – celebrated it in verse:
Leave your home behind, lad,
And reach your friends your hand,
And go, and luck go with you
While Ludlow tower shall stand.
Map reference SO 512747