Ludlow Self Catering Holiday Cottages, Shropshire
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Ludlow Society and entertainments in the 1800s.
During the 18th century and through the first quarter of the 19th century, Ludlow was to undergo a lot of building. During this time, Ludlow became the place for the wealthy professional and county families to spend their summers attracted, no doubt, by ‘the healthy and pleasant situation of the town.’ They built new houses or in the case of much of the property in Broad Street and, to a lesser extent, Lower Broad Street, the earlier fronts of the houses were given a Georgian or Regency appearance.
The main parts of the town had street lighting and were paved, made possible by an act of parliament of 1794. By 1808 piped water was available to most of the town when a water station, at a cost to the Corporation of £1,500, had been installed at Mill Street to pump water to a conduit containing 2 reservoirs in the Market House, thereby augmenting the existing supply from the conduit in the Bull Ring.
In 1811, Lord Clive, Clive of India’s eldest son, purchased a large residence, which nestled near the castle, for £1500 and were undoubtedly the pre-eminent family in the Ludlow. To entertain the Clives and other prominent families there were numerous attractions balls, dinners, cards, lectures, the theatre and horse racing. One of the highlights of the Ludlow Season was the Hunt Ball held in late November or early December in the Assembly Rooms of the Town Hall. The Hunt also held a dinner each year in April. Only the eminent members of Ludlow society received invitations. In June, another prestigious event was held known as The Election Ball because it was given by the MPs for Ludlow, the Clives. The highlight of the 1818 was probably the dinner held ‘over the Market House at 3 o’clock’ on 12 Febraury.’ This dinner was to celebrate the marriage of Viscount Clive with Lady Lucy Grahame.
A popular form of entertainment for everyone was the theatre in Mill Street. In December 1817, you could have seen, ‘An extraordinary Vocal and Instrumental Concert By the Celebrated Italian, Signor Rivolta who will perform on Six, Seven and Eight Instruments at one time!!’ Another popular entertainment was the races at Bromfield. In the summer they were held in July over 2 days and continued into the evening. In 1826, the winners of the main evening races won, ‘A plate of Fifty Pounds, and the Yeomanry Cavalry Stakes of Five Guineas each to which is added, by Viscount Clive a Cup value Twenty Guineas.’
Today, we do not instantly think of lectures as a form of entertainment but they were quite a usual pass time in the 1800s as well as being a way for self improvement. In 1818, one could have heard in the Market House, a Lecture on Chemical Philosophy. The poster advertising the event stated, ‘…two lectures on the Doctrines of Chemical Philosophy and their Application to Agriculture and the Arts.’ In 1825, a poster announced that ‘Mr. J. L. Willis, Professor of Painting and Geography in the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg and the University of Moscow (who has just returned from a Tour through the North of Europe and Asia) will deliver a lecture on Geography in the first part of which, He will introduce his Maps from the latest Survey, 120 Square Feet Each.’ Mr. Willis was also going to ‘.demonstrate the Figure of the Earth, with its diurnal and Annual Motion around the Sun, by a new invented Terrestrial Globe.’ However, the highlight of the lecture was a ‘Grand Original Peristrephic or Moving Diorama.’ This contained, ‘Two thousand Figures, including an excellent likeness (from life) of Alexander the First, Late Emperor of all the Russians and others of the Imperial Suite.’ The poster finishes with the following paragraph which I find fascinating for what it implies, ‘A custom (“most Honorable in the breach”), having prevailed amongst a certain class of Lecturer of going from door to door and importuning the respectable Inhabitants for Patronage, Mr. W. trusts he shall not be deemed guilty of disrespect or inattention in omitting this disgraceful practice, which he does solely from a sense of its indelicacy. Front seats 2s. Children and Schools half price. Back seats 1s. Good fires kept.’ I just hope the lecture was worth two shillings, a considerable sum in those days.
A recreation that all people could enjoy was a walk around the castle.