On the southern edge of Shropshire, lies St Mary the Virgin’s Church in Bromfield, a former priory church just a couple of miles from the market town of Ludlow.
The origins of this church pre-date the Norman conquest in the 11th century. It was rebuilt in the 12th century and the present tower was built in the 13th century. Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries saw the church and priory leased and then sold to a Charles Foxe who converted parts of the church into a house. The house was damaged by fire in the 17th century, but remains are still present at the south side of the church. The church was restored in the late 19th century and is still in use today.
I’m not religious, never have been, but there’s just something about churches and their history. Also, I find that church records and graveyards can provide a wealth of information when researching family history. Although none of my ancestors can be found here, it’s still an interesting place to visit.
At this time of year, much of the churchyard is carpeted in snowdrops, with some daffodils and crocus too, but perhaps the most beautiful part of this church can be found inside rather than outside.
Upon entering the church, you cannot fail to notice the painted chancel ceiling. It was painted in 1672 by Thomas Francis and depicts the Shield of Trinity surrounded by biblical text, cherubs and angels on a cloudy background.
Back outside, the Priory Gatehouse stands at the west wall of the churchyard. The gatehouse is a medieval stone and timber-framed building and is now in the hands of The Landmark Trust for use as holiday accommodation (yes, you can stay there!).
There are plenty of things to do nearby. If you’re hungry, I’d recommend crossing the A49 and visiting Ludlow Food Centre (I sometimes pop in for lunch if I’m in the area and actor John Challis a.k.a Boycie is a frequent visitor too). The town of Ludlow (described by John Betjeman as “probably the loveliest town in England”) is just down the road, with Stanton Lacey (well known for its snowdrops), Stokesay Castle, Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, Berrington Hall and Croft Castle all just a short drive away.