From prehistoric weapons to letters from the frontline, there is much more to Ludlow’s history than just medieval buildings
Tomorrow that will become clear once more as the town’s new, updated museum opens its doors to the public for a free preview day before weekly openings start in August.
The latest incarnation of the town’s museum, in the upstairs of the historic Buttercross building at the top of Broad Street, has been two years in formation, since the Shropshire Council-run version on the ground floor of Ludlow Assembly Rooms closed in 2014.
For more than 180 years there has been a museum in Ludlow, so it will be a welcome return, with tomorrow seeing free entry from 11am to 3pm.
Looking around the museum as workmen put the finishing touches in place, Colin Sheward, Ludlow’s deputy mayor, said it was quite an event to see the project come to fruition.
“It has been a major development and has seen so many people involved. Gina (Wilding, Ludlow town clerk) in particular has worked so hard.
“Also there has been a lot craftsmanship involved – there have been so many people who have put in work. It’s a major achievement.”
He said the museum showed the development of the town over a thousand years from medieval times, as well as showing off older artefacts from the area.
The displays start with truly ancient fossils and geological samples from the ground beneath, that the region is internationally famous for, before displaying everything from prehistoric stone arrow heads to Bronze Age spear and battle axe heads from burials conducted around the Bromfield area, as well as part of an exquisitely crafted Anglo-Saxon sword pommel.
The displays go on to show the development of St Laurence’s Church and Ludlow Castle in medieval times, as well as coins from the English Civil War-era Bitterley Hoard, before moving on to artefacts used by the Ludlow night-watchmen who kept the peace in the 18th and 19th century before a national police force was established.
Things are brought up to date with innovative displays including the life memories of some of Ludlow’s older residents which can be dialed up and listened to on an old-fashioned telephone, and letters home from the First World War read out on an old gramophone.
A book of memories compiled by former Ludlow School pupils for the 100th birthday of teacher local legend Marjorie Wait, who passed away at the start of this year aged 101, will also be on display, along with a cabinet earmarked for changing displays to show off items kept in the Museum Resource Centre on Parkway.
Councillor Sheward said: “The museum is a selection of what is in the archives at Ludlow Museum Resource Centre.
“And it has actually returned to the Buttercross after several years elsewhere in the town.”
There has been a museum in Ludlow since 1833, when it was started by Ludlow Natural History Society in a room over some outbuildings at Dinham House, near Ludlow Castle.
Since the museum has occupied six different locations around Ludlow, and was based at the Buttercross between 1955 and 1990, when it moved to the ground floor of Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
It stayed there until 2014, when Shropshire Council moved out of the that building and Ludlow Town Council became involved in getting together a revamped museum back at the Buttercross.
In recent years the Buttercross has stood unoccupied as there were problems with the ceiling and the building had to undergo a renovation, which was overseen by the town council, which also installed a new lift for disabled access.
Gina Wilding, town clerk said: “We’re really excited to have people come and view the Buttercross and bring it back to life and into public use.”
She said signs had yet to go up outside, and they were in talks with the Friends of Ludlow Museum about the possibility of selling gifts and booklets.
She said: “We’re starting off with just admission charges, but the Friends have some cards and publications that they have produced that we’ll be looking into having here.
“We would like to thank all of Shropshire Council’s curatorial staff, past and present, for putting together a wonderful exhibition and great audio visual elements,” she said.
The museum will initially be funded by Shropshire Council, but that is set to cease from April 2018.