Julian Lloyd Webber
Julian Lloyd Webber is widely regarded as one of the most creative musicians of his generation, and s bought many new listeners to the cello. Having performed at Ludlow Festival twice in the past few years, he has developed a great affection for the county. Here he describes just a few of Shropshire's many events - cultural, countryside or just plain unusual.
"Have you ever been to Shropshire?" That is the question which I always ask people who claim to know all about England's glorious countryside. And often the answer is a puzzled "no", for the most native Englishman seem to have made a far greater acquaintaince with the southern coast of Spain.
I count this as both a shame and a blessing. Of course, it is sad that so many people are missing out on one of Britain's most beautiful counties but, on the other hand, one of Shropshire's greatest assets is the utter peace of its countryside and villages. Shropshire's towns are also hughly attractive. I really looked forward to playing at Ludlow Festival, Ludlow is one of the prettiest of all English towns and St. Laurence's Parish Church has a wonderful acoustic. Quite apart from the legendary Feathers Hotel, Ludlow has more than its fair share of great pubs, and I fondly recall two excellent pints at The Wheatsheaf after my concert with the European Community Chamber Orchestra!
Much of the entertainment on offer in Shropshire has a lovely home-grown charm to it. Annual events range from the huge tented Shrewsbury Flower Show to the modest Minsterley Eisteddfod in a handful of marquees.
Ellesmere has its canal festival of gaily decorated boats and the Arbor Tree "Marriage" at Aston-on-Clun is one of the most unique events on the folk calendar.
You may catch Shropshire's highly praised touring theatre company "Pentabus" performing in a village hall, or savour the sight and sound of a Shakespeare play in the ruins of Ludlow Castle ...part of the annual Ludlow Festival.
Even the smallest rural parishes like to share their events with visitors. "Parish Welcome" is a programme of village events through the summer - church fetes to flower festivals, art exhibitions to well dressings. Ask Shropshire Visitor Information Centres for details.
First Published: 1998