Goodrich Castle is a wonderful castle situated just South of Ross-On-Wye in Herefordshire. It stands majestically on a wooded hill commanding the passage of the River Wye into the picturesque valley of Symonds Yat. The castle was begun in the late 11th century, by the English thegn Godric who gave it his name.
A generation later the splendidly preserved square keep which still forms its core was added, probably in the time of Richard 'Strongbow' de Clare, Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Goodrich 1148-76.
Under King John, Goodrich was granted along with the earldom of Pembroke to the famous William Marshal, a great castle builder who may have initiated work on the inner ward. Each of the Marshal's four sons inherited the fortress in turn, the last dying childless at Goodrich in 1245.
Thereafter the fortress and earldom passed to Henry III's half-brother,William de Valence, who rebuilt its defences and living quarters in the most up-to-date style.
Goodrich still boasts one of the most complete sets of medieval domestic buildings surviving in any English castle. William's widow Countess Joan frequently stayed here with an entourage of up to 200, entertaining her relations and friends in the most lavish style.
During the Civil War, Goodrich was held successively by both sides. Sir Henry Lingen's Royalists eventually surrendered in 1646 under threats of undermining and a deadly Parliamentarian mortar. The famous 'Roaring Meg', the only surviving Civil War mortar, has returned to the castle after over 350 years.
There is a lovely little gift shop and coffee shop at the entrance to the Castle - I finished my visit off with a lovely tea cake!
The famous 'Roaring Meg', the only surviving Civil War mortar, has returned to the castle after over 350 years. This historic canon was used by Parliamentary forces to batter the walls of Goodrich Castle in 1646, towards the end of the Civil War. Colonel Birch, then Governor of Hereford, had it specially cast - in the Forest of Dean - and it was capable of throwing a 2-hundredweight shell.
After the Royalists, under Sir Harry Lingen, had surrendered Goodrich Castle, Birch arranged for Roaring Meg to be brought to the city.For many years it stood upside down as a corner-post at the corner of Gwynne Street and Bridge Street - outside the inn to which it gave its name. It was moved to Castle Green in Hereford in 1839. Much later it was moved to Churchill Gardens Museum on Aylestone Hill. In 2004 it was loaned to Goodrich Castle by Herefordshire Council.
In a corner of the inner courtyard, near this double arch window, look out for Roaring Meg.
On the day of our visit she was covered by a protective tarpaulin so I did not get a photograph. She is the only mortar to have survived from the Civil War and was returned to the Castle in 2003.
I suspect the cover is intended to prevent little children from climbing -several were attempting to scale the cover!.
You can see a picture of it here -
I did not have time to read all the information plates located round the castle and found it difficult to listen to the free audio guide whilst keeping an eye on 3 very active chidren. I have really enjoyed reading about the castle at leisure and recommend the Guidebook.
It is an excellent publication, well written with a very good selection of photographs - old and new - of the castle, artists impressions and a well told history. It is well worth £3.50 and makes me want to make another visit with more time to explore .