Every country has a running list of contenders for the “prettiest little town” pageant. On every Anglophile’s list, Ludlow is sure to make an appearance (Lacock and Lavenham also come to mind).
In a quiet, mellow region of pastoral scenery along England’s border with Wales, an area known as the Welsh Marshes, Ludlow takes some patience in getting to—it has thus far blessedly escaped the blight of bus tours, urban sprawl, and shopping malls.
Swans glide on the River Teme that encircles it, spanned by medieval bridges that were a frequent subject for Turner’s paintings. Because of its proximity to the Welsh border, the imposing Ludlow Castle went up in 1094 upon orders from the Earl of Shrewsbury” it would later host the two young princes (the sons and heirs of Edward IV) who died in the Tower of London and Catherine of Aragon.
Cobbled streets are distinguished by elegant Georgian and Jacobean timbered houses and, in recent years, a number of excellent restaurants—surprising for an unassuming country outpost of this size and location. Not the largest but considered by many the best is the intimate Merchant House, which blazed Ludlow’s gastronomic trail.
A respectful showcase for local Shropshire produce, just six small tables accommodate privileged diners who come from as far away as London to enjoy one of the region’s most artfully presented, deliciously orchestrated meals. The perfect end to a perfect day.