Shropshire - Mediaeval art and architecture in the Marches

Prices from £1,290


15 Jun 2019 - 18 Jun 2019
Duration: 3 nights
Ref: 19SHRO
With: Dr Sally Dormer


Prices from £1,290
Single Supplement: £330
Deposit: £100

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The counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire boast some of the most exciting mediaeval remains in England, set amidst breath-taking scenery in the area known as the Marches that separates England from Wales. Three distinct types of building form the core of this Study Tour, including monuments that chart the history of the Middle Ages, from the 11th-century birth of Romanesque style, through turbulent times of civil war during King Stephen’s reign, into the Gothic age of the 14th century.

Impressive castles at Ludlow, Acton Burnell and Stokesay proclaim the might of mediaeval noblemen, coupled with their desire for domestic comfort. Immense cathedrals and abbeys at Hereford and Shrewsbury bear testimony to the rich splendour of ecclesiastical life. Smaller parish churches at Kilpeck and Shobdon provide intriguing evidence for the contacts lay mediaeval patrons forged, via pilgrimage, with lands as distant as Spain.


Dr Sally Dormer gained her MA and PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is a specialist in mediaeval art, and Director of the V&A Early Mediaeval Year Course. Sally is also Dean of a Study Abroad semester for undergraduate students from the University of the South and Rhodes College, USA, and teaches for the Art Fund and Art Society.

DAY 1:

Independent arrival in Ludlow around midday to check into our hotel, located in the heart of this charming historic town. Our first afternoon will start with visit to the ruins of Ludlow Castle, perched high above the river Teme and constructed c. 1085 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury. Continue to the grand parish church of St Laurence, which incorporates important examples of Decorated and Perpendicular architectural styles. The church also houses a fine collection of 15th-century misericords and some original, if highly restored, stained glass, including scenes from the life of St Laurence. Return to our hotel for dinner in the restaurant.

DAY 2:

We set out this morning to explore some of the small parish churches that provide splendid examples of Romanesque sculpture of the “Herefordshire School”, the term used to describe sculpture produced in this area 1130-50. St Mary and St David at Kilpeck, has a sculpted doorway and chancel arch that owe a debt to one of the doorways at the pilgrimage church of Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. The badly-weathered chancel arches at Shobdon, displayed in the 18th century as a folly, come from a church built in the 1130s by Oliver de Merlimond, and indicate links with sculpture in Aquitaine, south-western France. We will also visit St Mary Magdalene, Eardisley, which possesses one of the finest 12th- century carved fonts in England. After lunch, we continue to Hereford and its magnificent cathedral, begun under Reynelm, Bishop of Hereford, 1107-15. An exploration of the cathedral will be rounded off with a visit to the visitor centre, which displays part of Hereford’s chained library, including illuminated manuscripts made at Hereford priory during the 12th century, and the famed Mappa Mundi, produced by Richard de Bello, a canon of Lincoln Cathedral in c. 1280.

DAY 3:

A morning in Shrewsbury. We will start at Holy Cross, originally the Benedictine abbey of the town, founded by Earl Roger de Montgomery, c. 1080. Only the nave and transepts of the Romanesque abbey church survive, together with fragments of the shrine of St Winifred, traditionally believed to be a 7th-century Welsh nun from Denbighshire. We continue to St Mary’s, a parish church dominated by a lofty spire, to see a fine late mediaeval collection of stained glass, much of which was purchased from Continental churches in the 19th century, and three carved English alabaster altarpiece panels. In the afternoon we visit Much Wenlock Priory, a Cluniac foundation with important Romanesque sculpted reliefs from the lavabo in the cloister, and magnificent blind arcading on the walls of the Chapter House. Our day concludes at Acton Burnell Castle, a fortified manor house, built 1284-93 by Bishop Burnell, Edward I’s Lord Chancellor, before we return to Ludlow for dinner.

DAY 4:

Morning visit to Stokesay Castle, built during the late 13th century by Laurence de Ludlow, son of a clothier, and one of the greatest wool merchants of his day. This is arguably the finest and earliest fortified manor house in England. Two towers, the great hall and solar are arranged around a courtyard surrounded by an originally battlemented curtain wall, providing an opportunity to consider essential developments in domestic architecture during the late Middle Ages. In the afternoon, we return to Ludlow, where the tour concludes at c. 3pm.

Please note that at this stage the programme is still provisional. Although we aim at the greatest degree of accuracy from the outset, some details, especially the order of visits, may be subject to change.


Specific fitness requirements for this Study Tour:

The tour involves a lot of walking, with some parts of the gardens being on uneven or sloping ground and stout shoes are recommended. Coach journeys do not generally exceed one hour.

Please note that all our Study Tours involve a significant amount of standing and walking, often across uneven ground, over cobbled streets, or up and down steps and inclines. While we do not have an upper age limit for participants, we require you to have a level of fitness which does not spoil other participents' enjoyment of the holiday and you should be able to walk at a reasonable pace and / or stand for at least thirty minutes without aid or requiring a rest.

If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular tour is suitable for you, please ring us to check before placing your booking.


Twin/double share: £1290 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £330
Deposit: £100 per person


  • Three nights B&B at the three-star Dinham Hall Hotel
  • Excursions around Shropshire by private coach
  • Two dinners and one lunch
  • Services of the lecturer and a tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters
  • Small group between 12 and 22 participants


  • Travel insurance. We strongly advise you to be covered by adequate travel insurance

Dinham Hall Hotel

Furnished with beautiful period antiques, Dinham Hall is the epitome of a grand Georgian family home. This late 18th Century mansion stands prestigiously in the heart of historic Ludlow opposite the impressive Medieval Castle; an enviable location with splendid views of the Castle ramparts, Whitcliffe, The Teme river valley and the town rooftops.

  • Television
  • Telephone
  • Hair dryer
  • Radio
  • Heating
  • Tea and coffee making facilities


The hotel features restful lounges and the pretty terraces with water features are perfect for alfresco dining in the warmer months.