Sunday, November 29, 2020

Ludlow, Shropshire

Looking up, looking down

St Laurence’s, Ludlow, is a large parish church (the largest in Shropshire) and its tall crossing tower is a fitting crown for the building and the beautiful town where it stands. And yet Ludlow’s tightly packed streets make the rest of the church difficult to see in the town centre, and hard to photograph. A good view is to be had from within the castle, from which the way the tower dominates the surrounding countryside is clear. It’s also clear that the architecture of the tower is 15th century, in what was fittingly called the Perpendicular style by 19th-century antiquarian Thomas Rickman and those who followed him. The quality of verticality is embodied not only in the sheer height and the upward-pointing corner pinnacles, but also in the perpendicular mouldings that cast shadows across he middle part of the tower wall and the mullions of the windows, which stretch from the bottom of the window almost to the very top, rather than getting interrupted by complex patterns of tracery as they usually did in 14th-century architecture.

The interior is high, airy, and full of windows in the same style. But one feature that has engaged me on several visits to this outstanding church is the carving of the misericord seats. Looking through some of the very few photographs I have kept from before the digital era, I see that shadows and backache seem to have prevented me from getting decent images of many of them – when visiting churches it is just as important to look down as to look up, but this can be a painful business! This is a shame since there’s a rich array of medieval carving in these stalls, from satirical images such as the fox preaching to the geese, through bits of everyday life, to heraldic designs, such as the falcon and fetterlock badge of Richard Duke of York, lord of Ludlow. Here is a rather splendidly leonine king to give readers who’ve not seen the originals an idea of the quality of the carving. I must return when I can, and see if the churchwardens still allow photography.

1 comment:

TomC said...

The best view, I've found, is from a North-facing seat on the train, as it passes just South of the town.

I also recall, possibly incorrectly, being told that the Palmers' Guild had a lot to do with the building.