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Carmelite friary, Ludlow
Where was the friary?
The Carmelite Friary stood in Corve Street, on the site of St Leonardís chapel, now a printing works, and cemetery.
What was the friary like?
The Carmelite order began as groups of hermits on Mount Carmel, in present day northern Israel. They lived lives of solitude and isolation, but in 1247 Pope Innocent IV made them a mendicant order, relying on charity to live, and so they moved into towns to preach and to find benefactors.
They were later arrivals in Ludlow as elsewhere, arriving in 1350, 100 years after the Austin friars. They were successful in getting the backing of Laurence of Ludlow, lord of Stokesay Castle. These were tragic times with the Black Death at its worst. It may be that such apparent divine judgement was seen by Sir Lawrence as a call to be penitent over past wrongs including an assault for which he had been outlawed. Sir Laurence had granted the order eight properties in Corve Street and the friars began building their church soon afterwards but in 1353 he died and was buried in the still incomplete friary church. The loss of tax income from the properties was noticed by the Crown but it allowed the land to remain in friary hands in return for which the friars would have to pray for the souls of King Edwardís family. Another dispute with the rector of Ludlow over the rights to offerings from the burial mass of the dead man was also settled and relations remained good with the parish authorities thereafter.
The church continued to grow during the next 200 years, in particular during the time of Prior Robert Mascall, later Bishop of Hereford.
What happened to the friary site?
At the time of the dissolution in 1538 the numbers of friars had dropped to five but more of their site seems to have been in use than that of the Austin friars. Attempts were made by the friars to hide some of the orders belongings, but this was spotted and reported by Thomas Vernon, who, as lord of Stokesay Castle, claimed the friary land and belongings as his own. Vernon was successful in his bid for the land at least and in the years that followed thoroughly demolished almost everything on the site for its stone, lead, tiles and timber. A house belonging to Thomas Blashfield, a clothier, was built on part of the site but was deserted within a few years. After that the site remained undeveloped until the19th Century when it was used as a cemetery for which the new St Leonardís Chapel was built.