|We are delighted to be able to report that, following a successful appeal for grants and donations, the Ludlow Castle Heraldic Roll has been purchased and four excellent facsimiles have been made by the National Library of Wales. One of these has already been into several primary schools as part of the heraldry unit of the MHS Schools Local History Programme. The background to this fascinating and important document is described below.
Around 1473 King Edward IV set up a council in Ludlow castle to support and advise his young son Edward in his role as Prince of Wales. Over the next century this council became the Council of Wales and the Marches, the highest tier of the administrative and legal system for Wales. The most important of its Lord Presidents was Sir Henry Sidney KG, a strong Protestant and brother-in-law to both Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey.
|Students at Bishop Hooper School
in Ashford Carbonel, Shropshire being shown
the facsimile of the roll by Hugh Wood
|Sir Henry Sidney was President for 26 years from 1560 to 1586 alongside his role as Lord Deputy of Ireland. He liked to make a big show and was very fond of processions and heraldic display. In 1574 he put up, in the round chapel in the inner bailey of Ludlow castle, the coats of arms of lots of people associated with the castle and its history. A few years later he decided that a permanent record should be made of these coats of arms and they were copied onto a long roll of parchment.
The collection consisted of three groups of people. Eleven of the owners of the castle are included from its founder, Walter de Lacy, down to the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth I. These included Roger Mortimer 1st Earl of March with Joan de Geneville; Edmund Mortimer 3rd Earl of March with Philippa, Countess of Ulster as well as Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville; Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville; Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Also included were nine of the previous Lord Presidents and all 22 members of the Council appointed by Queen Elizabeth in 1570.
|These coats of arms were a feature of the castle for many years, and were recorded in detail, but they eventually disappeared. On the other hand we've been able to find no reference to a roll having been created, so it came as a complete surprise when it came to the surface a couple of years ago, in the hands of a dealer in London. Its significance to Ludlow and to the Mortimer History Society was quickly realised and an appeal was launched to buy it for the town. The Society has been at the heart of this initiative. All the key members of the Roll Team were members and we are grateful for all the donations we have received from members far and wide.
The roll is over 4.5m long but only 10cm wide. It has been created by sewing seven pieces of parchment together. Parchment is virtually indestructible except that, as it is made from animal skins, it is attractive to rodents. Our roll has suffered significant damage from rats or mice together with some fading. Much of it is in excellent condition, however. It is too fragile to put on permanent display, so we decided to have first-class facsimiles made which could be handled more easily.
A page from the booklet for schools
|When we launched our appeal, we explained that we wanted to take a copy of the roll into schools as part of the MHS Schools Local History Programme. As you can see, the facsimiles have now been made and one copy has been into six local primary schools during July as part of the heraldry unit.To enhance the experience, each student has been given an attractive booklet to take home. As well as giving the background to the roll, it illustrates many of the coats of arms and even includes a heraldry quiz.
To see the complete booklet for schools click here
If you'd like to download the booklet and make up your own copy click here.
To see a list of the coats of arms on the roll click here
To learn more about the roll itself click here
To learn more about the Roll Project and the appeal click here
To support us by making a donation, go to the button at the top right of this page