Here’s the story of the haunted Ludlow Castle. The name ‘Ludlow’ comes from the Old English ‘hludhlaw’. ‘Hlud’ means ‘the loud waters’ and ‘hlaw’ means ‘hill’. So, ‘hludhlaw’ means ‘a place on a hill by a loud river’. Ludlow is situated on a hill near a part of the River Teme which had rapids, thus the ‘loud waters’. In the 12th century, weirs were built along the river to tame the rushing waters and today the waters are just a faint murmur of their former clamor. However, there are still other loud noises of the other-worldly kind coming from the castle.
Ludlow occupies a strategic position. It is in the county of Shropshire, England, north-west of London and not far from Birmingham. It is close to Wales near the border of Shropshire and Herefordshire. In medieval times, this significance was not overlooked by the feudal lords. One of the Marcher Lords, Roger de Lacy, constructed Ludlow Castle as a Welsh border post.
When it was built in the late 11th century, it was just a basic castle. By the 14th century, it had developed into a magnificent palace for Roger Mortimer, who was, at that time, the most powerful man in England. The fortunes of war saw the castle changing owner many times. In 1811, the ruins were bought by the 2nd Earl of Powis and Ludlow Castle remains the property of his family to this day.
Architecturally, Ludlow Castle is a large, rectangular enciente built on a cliff overlooking the River Teme. The main gate faces the town on the east side. On the side is the river. The main part of the castle is in the northwest corner protected by another enciente wall. Since it has passed through many hands, the style of construction was dictated, at different times, by the wishes of its current owner. So Ludlow Castle is a juxtaposition of Norman, Medieval and Tudor styles.
Ludlow Castle has seen many lords and ladies come and go. However, there is one particular lady who has, more or less, acquired permanent resident status. Her name is Marion de la Bruyere.
Marion de la Bruyere was the heroine of the Fitzwarine Romance. The relevant historical facts are obscured by the mists of time but the pertinent details contain all the fine ingredients of a riveting story. It began with the feud of Walter de Lacy and Joce de Dinan. Walter and one of his knights, Arthur, were captured and held as prisoners in Ludlow Castle.
Ludlow Castle Hauntings
Marion de la Bruyere was one of the ladies of the castle. Arthur fell in love with her. She reciprocated with helping to arrange for the escape of Arthur and Walter. Later, Arthur returned secretly to visit his lady love. Marion let down a rope from her chamber so that he could climb up to meet her. Unknown to Marion, Arthur’s intention were far from noble. While he dallied with her, he made sure that the rope was still in place.
One hundred soldiers commanded by Walter de Lacy climbed the rope. They entered the castle and massacred the entire garrison. Marion felt totally betrayed. She took vengeance into her own hands. With his very own sword, she slit the throat of her ersatz lover. Then, overwhelmed by the horror of her deed, she jumped out of a window of the tall tower. She died of a broken neck and a broken heart.
Her last words were said to be ‘Goodbye, cruel world!‘
In the normal course of events, that would have been the sad end of a tragic tale. However, love and lust are powerful emotions. They have the potential power to rend the very fabric of time and space. In exceptional cases, these powerful forces can even open a portal between different dimensions.
Marion departed from this world in a very highly charged state of mind. On the one hand, she was flushed with the pleasure of a sensuous rendezvous with her paramour. It can be safely surmised that her treacherous lover was lying repleted in bed when she discovered his dastardly deed. At this crucial moment, Marion’s loyalty to Ludlow Castle totally overwhelmed her emotions. She did not hesitate to slash the throat of the knave who had betrayed her love. Then she flung herself from the high window of her chamber in the tower.
Since then she had been sighted repeating her fatal fall and eerie death wail. Students of paranormal phenomena would be well advised to keep vigil on the anniversary of her suicide. The ghost of Marion had also been sighted walking through the ruins of the castle. At times, sounds of heavy breathing could be heard coming from inside the tower. One local resident said it sounded like those of someone in a deep slumber.
There is another ghost wandering around the churchyard. This was an elderly and tall woman. She had been described as clothed in a long, heavy robe, possibly a dressing gown, gray-blue in color. This ghostly lady seemed to enjoy taking a walk on summer evenings, going from the rectory, through the graveyard and disappearing at the doorway of the church.
Ludlow town itself has quite a bit to offer connoisseurs of the paranormal. On Corve Street, a well-dressed gentleman had been sighted doing an unexplained disappearing act. This ghostly apparition could well be that of William Owen. He was a well-known portrait painter who was born in Ludlow. William often took a stroll along Corve Street. He came to an untimely end when he was given a bottle of poison by mistake by an untrained chemist’s assistant, who thought that it was the medication prescribed by the doctor.
At the Blue Boar public house, there is a ghost that was named as the Officer of the Tower. The last time this apparition was seen, he was dressed in a blue tunic with shiny silver buttons. Other ghosts haunting the vicinity included a cavalier, an aging Victorian woman, a pipe-smoking man and a teenage girl.
Friars Lane had its own eerie tale. A small procession of monks dressed in white had been sighted after dark. These spooks were wandering around where their priory used to be. At the Globe Inn, a long-haired soldier wearing a cloak had been seen. He could be the manifestation of a man who had been murdered at the inn. Once, an inn guest had even spoken to this appearance, thinking it was a mortal being. Another soldier from medieval times, Edward Dobson, had made ghostly appearances now and then in Market Street. He had been garrisoned at Ludlow Castle in the service of Richard, Duke of York.
So, today, Ludlow Castle still lives up to its name as a place on the hill with loud noises, plus ghostly manifestations thrown in for good measure.