The Windows of St Laurence’s Church, Ludlow

The Windows of St Laurence’s Church, Ludlow

Most churches have stained glass windows, but few can rival those of St Laurence’s Church in Ludlow, Shropshire. Laurence’s sits in a prominent position in the centre of the historic town of Ludlow. The church tower can be seen for miles around.

Outside St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.

I have been to Ludlow many times, but I had not been to St Laurence’s Church, an icon of Ludlow, for years. So, with a couple of hours to spare one sunny morning this month, I decided to visit.

St Laurence’s is known as ‘the Cathedral of the Marches’ and is the largest parish church in Shropshire. There is much to see at St Laurence’s Church, but it was the windows which took my interest on this visit. There are so many to see, and each has its own unique details and story to tell.

The West window at St Lawrence's Church.
The West Window.

The West window features 11 men, each with a connection to the town’s history. They include Roger of Montgomery, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury (the biggest landowner in Shropshire at the time of the Doomsday Book); Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (he inherited the Lordship of Ludlow from his uncle, Edmund Mortimer, and was father of both Edward IV and Richard III); King Edward IV (he was crowned King after winning the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross near Ludlow); King Edward V (son of Edward IV, he was raised at Ludlow Castle with his brother, and the boys are both believed to have been murdered on the order of their uncle King Richard III, among other theories); and Arthur, Prince of Wales (he lived at Ludlow Castle and his heart was buried in the church).

The Ladies Window in the north aisle of the church.
The Ladies Window

The ‘Ladies window’ situated in the north aisle came to be named because it was funded by the Ladies Committee during the 1859-60 restoration. Women also feature prominently in the scenes which it depicts from the New Testament: the presentation in the temple, the miracle at Cana, Martha and Mary, and the women at the tomb.

The Salwey Window.
The Salwey window – given in memory of Theophilus Salwey and his sisters, Agnes, Mary and Katherine. The window shows an angel descending upon St Agnes along-side the martyrdom of St Stephen. The Salway arms can also be seen at the top of the window.
The western north aisle window at St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.
The western north aisle window features glass which was originally made in 1860 for St Leonard’s Chapel in Corve Street, Ludlow. Installed at St Laurence’s in 1991, the window shows the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.
The Openshaw Window at St Lawrence's Church.
The Openshaw window (given by Mrs Openshaw in 1887) is the easternmost window in the north aisle. It depicts the three Marys in the garden, and the appearance of the risen Lord to Mary Magdalene.
The Palmers' Window at St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.
The Palmers’ window tells the legend of King Edward the Confessor, a beggar (St John the Evangelist in disguise) and two pilgrims.

Standing in the chancel of St Laurence’s, you cannot fail to be amazed by the panoramic view of its amazing stained glass windows. The main window, the Great East window, may have been mostly remade between 1828 – 1832, but it is a masterpiece of medieval art. The amount of panels, the staggering detail, the over 300 figures, angels and archangels, and it being believed to have dated back to 1445, is just truly stunning. I could have stood there all day taking in its detail.

The windows in the chancel at St Laurence's Church, Ludlow.
The chancel at St Laurence’s Church.
The Great East Window in the Chancel at St Lawrence's Church.
The Great East Window.
Some of the stained glass windows in the chancel at St Laurence's. Church
Some of the stained glass windows in the chancel at St Laurence’s.

The Windows of St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.

Situated in the Lady Chapel, The Jesse Tree window originates from around 1300 but was restored in 1890 using as much of the original glass as possible. Perhaps best seen when backlit by the early morning sunlight.

The Jesse Tree Window at St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.
The Jesse Tree Window.
The Vaughan Window at St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.
The Vaughan window (given by Brettel Vaughan) can be found in the south aisle and depicts the three Marys: Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and Mary Cleophas.
The ceiling at St Lawrence's Church.
Don’t forget to look up!

St Laurence’s still holds regular services and is also used as an entertainment venue for recitals, concerts and other events. I find it sad that St Laurence’s pews have been removed in favour of movable seating, though I can see why they chose to do it. Church pews, whilst inherently uncomfortable, are part of its character.

Inside St Lawrence's Church, Ludlow.

Another wonderful feature of St Laurence’s is its wood carvings, in particular the Misericords. A common feature in churches and cathedrals, misericords are medieval choir stall seats which were designed to be raised during services. A small ledge protruding from the seat could be used to lead against should the choice member tire during a service.

Misericord - This carving is of a King, said to be the likeness of Richard II.
Misericord – This carving is of a King, said to be the likeness of Richard II.

There is so much more to see and discover at St Laurence’s Church in Ludlow, far more than can be covered in one blog post. If you’re ever in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit.

Other places nearby include Ludlow Castle, Bromfield Church, Clee St Margaret Church, Heath Chapel, Stanton Lacy Church and Stokesay Castle.

38 comments

  1. Carol says:

    I am a lover of old stained glass windows. This beautiful old church has magnificent windows! Great photos – they’re not easy to capture. Happy Sunday!

  2. Kelly says:

    I knew I was in for a treat just from reading the title to your blog entry…. and it didn’t disappoint in the least! I think my favorite window is the “ladies window”, but they’re all magnificent. So much history in them! I always find seating like that in such an ancient setting a bit incongruous, but can understand why they use it. Thanks for sharing all this!

  3. Marty says:

    You really outdid yourself with all the photos and explanations here. So many beautiful windows it’s hard to find just one that stands out, though that East Window might be a contender. I agree that removing the pews takes away from the overall character. Great post!

  4. Ann says:

    Having just visited Ludlow and St. Lawrence’s Church, this is a trip down memory lane to our recent holiday. I think we visit the church every time we visit Ludlow. It’s one of my favourite churches of the area. The stained glass windows are magnificent and I absolutely adore those misericords! xxx

  5. tomthebackroadstraveller says:

    …I enjoy church architecture and stained glass windows. St. Lawrence has number different styles. Thanks Nicki for sharing them.

  6. Jodie says:

    There is something very magical about stain glassed windows. These are truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing all the rich history of this church.

  7. Angie says:

    Nikki – during my time in the UK, I have visited many churches, and the scale and intricacy of the stained glass and other architectural details is enough to stagger the mind. Our son will be visiting his grandparents in November, and this might be a good destination for them. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment!

  8. lisl says:

    Thank you for the tour of these windows, Nikki. I remember the Church for it misericords, which I photographed, but have no pictures of the windows, so yours have been a treat!

  9. CherryPie says:

    I have visited a few times and was a bit dismayed when we learned on one of our visits that the Victorian Pews were due to be removed.

    I was pleasantly surprised on my most recent visit that the removal of those pews had made the space look bigger and lighter. I like the new airy space which is uplifting and with so many possibilities.

    On the plus side for my hubby, the tower was open for tours.

  10. Yvonne (@Fiction_Books) says:

    This is definitely a place I need to visit, as stained glass windows are quite a passion of mine, and these are so impressive and so expertly photographed.

    I have a strong connection to the stained glass profession, through the emigrant American arm of my family. My aunt and uncle went as sponsored immigrants on a £10 steerage fee to California, back in the early 1960s. My uncle had recently completed his apprenticeship in stained glass work at Canterbury Cathedral and his sponsor helped him to set up his own business, which is still running very successfully today, under the stewardship of my cousin and his son, my uncle having passed away 5 years ago in his late 80s, still doing the job he loved, designing and installing stained glass commissions, yes! even down to climbing the scaffolding around taller buildings and churches.

    What a lovely post and I’m another voter for keeping original pews wherever possible, some of them are amazing! 🙂

  11. glowsteady says:

    This is beyond stunning. I could look at stained glass windows all day, the workmanship is phenomenal. The windows are always one of my favourite features when it comes to the more famous churches. Thanks for including the history here too, really interesting x

Leave a Reply to Wendy Williams Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.