With a tourist scene that includes the ‘foodie’ centre of Ludlow, tourists are spoiled for choice along the Shropshire/Hereford border. North of Ludlow at Bromfield, a food centre is opening in 2007. To the south is Berrington Hall, tickets for which also include Croft Castle (included in this tour.)
Start from Ludlow town, where the castle (left) of the Mortimer family still dominates the town. In September, the grounds are thronged with crowds attending the annual food festival- an event best attended by train as the car parks are bulging. However, the monthly farmers’ market (above) in the town square is worth a visit, as are the multitude of small shops that line the narrow streets at the ‘top’ of the town. Large supermarkets have been kept well out of sight.
Leave Ludlow over the river bridge, and take the B4361 going south. A mile and a half from the town, take the right fork, bypassing Orleton. After just over a mile, turn right on the B4362 towards Mortimers Cross. Soon you will reach the entrance to Croft Castle on your right.
The castle started life as a Norman stronghold on the Welsh Marches. Sir Richard Croft fought at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461, and his descendant supported King Charles in the civil war, after which the castle fortifications were removed. It was rebuilt as a mansion in the 17th Century, and is now maintained by the National Trust. It contains rare furniture from the 17th to 19th centuries and has impressive plasterwork and gardens. The earthwork remains of the old ringwork castle can be seen amongst trees in the adjacent meadow.
It has what is described as Herefordshire’s finest walled garden, and a vineyard, which produces wine that is sold in the shop and in the Deli on the Square in Ludlow.
Leaving Croft Castle, turn left and retrace your route back towards Orleton. When you reach the B4361, turn right towards Leominster, which is about 5 miles distant. Cross the River Lugg and. After about 100 yards, turn left on the A44. At the roundabout, turn on the A49 for a mile, before branching left at the next roundabout on the A44 towards Bromyard. After 2 miles, turn right on the old Roman Road, which is signposted for Broadfield Court.
Follow this road for just over 3 miles, and you will reach Broadfield Court.
Broadfield is mentioned in Domesday Book as being in the tenancy of Radulphus de Todeni , with an area of one hide (120 acres) A dispute with henry II deprived the family of the estate for a few years from 1266, but they regained it until the family dies out in the 14th Century. After passing through many hands, it was purchased by a Mr Burchall in 1825, who converted it from a farmhouse into a Gothic mansion complete with gargoyles, coat of arms, finials and stucco.
In 1971, Keith James planted 17 acres of vines in what he described as an ideal location. The wines are still produced from these vines, and are sold in the vineyard shop. There is also an acclaimed rose garden and a café for visitors. What better way than to end the day testing the 6 types that are currently produced.