After 1689 the castle was quickly abandoned, as part of the policy of the new
government of William and Mary to centralise control of the whole of England
and Wales in London. In 1722 Daniel Defoe described it as 'the very perfection
of decay'. The people of the town looted for useful material and the principle
rooms were soon roofless. In the 1760s the Government considered demolition
but in view of the cost involved preferred to lease it in 1771 to the Earl of
Powis. A later Earl bought the castle in 1811.
The castle was now a picturesque, romantic ruin, which began to attract many
visitors. It was praised by writers, eulogised by poet and painted by artists.
In 1772 walks were laid out round the castle, a public amenity appropriate to
Ludlow, which was then flourishing as a fashionable social centre. Since 1811
the care of successive Earl of Powis and their agents has arrested further decline,
while in recent years grants from English Heritage have enabled important repair
work to be done. Over 50,000 visitors now come to the castle each year.
In the 19th century the outer bailey was used for sports and other occasions.
The Historical pageant
of 1934 revived the tradition of entertainment at the castle and since 1960
the inner bailey has been the setting for a Shakespeare play as the major item
in the Ludlow Festival
Ludlow Castle was built by a Norman family who were granted large
estates in Shropshire and elsewhere in the 11th century. Once a royal palace,
the castle has been at the centre of many interesting events during its history.
It was acquired by the 2nd Earl of Powis in 1811 and is owned by the same family
It was from Ludlow that in 1483 the young heir to the throne, Edward,
set out on a fateful journey to London after the unexpected death of his father,
Edward IV. Within weeks the boy's uncle was crowned as Richard III, and Edward
and his little brother vanished.
Ten years later the heir to the new Tudor dynasty, the sickly young Prince Arthur,
brought his bride Catherine of Aragon home to Ludlow Castle. Arthur died at
the castle within six months, leaving the way open for his brother to succeed
to the throne as Henry VIII.
In 1634 the first enactment of a masque by John Milton, Comus, took place
in the Great Hall, while today the castle is the centre piece of a play by Shakespeare
and other events at the Ludlow Festival in June and July each year.