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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!
Updated Mar 28, 2010
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.
Written Mar 28, 2010
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 -
Updated Sep 16, 2009
Opposite the Millennium Window, on the wall on the courtyard side of the Chapel, you can see an unusual memorial. unveiled in 1992.
It commemorates the people - civilians and aircrew - who lost their lives in flying duties during the course of radar development.
Its unveling marked the anniversary of a RAF Halifax V9977 that crashed in June 1942, close to the castle, with the loss of all 11 on board.
Among those who died was Alan Blumlein who had previously worked for EMI on systems that would eventually become stero sound and television.
Updated Sep 16, 2009
As we walked from the Barbican across the footbridge to the Gatehouse I was intrigued to see in the wall of the chapel to the left a widow, glazed with some very modern looking glass.
When the old Office of Works took over the ruined castle from its private owner in 1920 the Chapel was in a perilous state lacking both a roof and a floor and overgrown with vegetation. On entering the chapel now is to see a marvel of skilled reconstruction work and craftmanship that creates an impression of what the chapel would have looked like before the Civil War.The work is comlemented by two glazed windows created by local contemporary artists. The one in the outer wall can be seen as you enter.
The artist used ideas contributed by local people and school children and used ancient and traditional methods of glassmaking and inscribing. In her statement she says :-
The window celebrates this place and its people past, present and future.The rock upon which this castle stands, the river flowing in great loops embracing three communities and the lush, timeless landscape bisected by roads and river crossings are all reflected in the design.
Written Sep 16, 2009
The castle is the most likely reason for there being a village at Goodrich - even the name comes from Godric the English Lord who started to build it - whether for himself or for the Norman invaders who by that time in the late 11th century had penetrated the borders and parts of Wales.
And it is the Castle that today draws visitors from all over the world to this peaceful place.
Although the castle was built as a fortress it withstood several changes of ownership due to dynastic inheritance arrangements, political quarrels and the wars of Edward the First agaist the Welsh without being involved in any damaging skirmishes and eventually became a sumptuous private residence. When the Countess Joan, widow of William de Valence of Gascony arrived to spend a couple of years at the castle in 1296 she brought with her an entourage of 200.
The Guide Book provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the rulers compared with the 20 or so Poor People in the castle dependent on the Charity of the Countess - Plus ça change, plus c'st la même chose.
Further civil strife and the Welsh Rebellion led by Owain Glyn Dwr in 1402 threatened the castle but it would not be until English Civil War that disaster struck in 1646. Then the Royalist occupants were besieged by Cromwell's Armies who inflicted irreparable damage.
Thanks to English Heritage and its predecessors the castle has been partially restored and preserved so children (and their grandparents!) can explore and learn a little bit of history.
There is a Parking fee of £1 refunded on Admission.
Free Admission to Members of English heritage and CADW
Limited Disabled access.
Cafe, Shop and Toilet facilities.
Check for opening times Nov. - March. Otherwise Daily
Written Sep 15, 2009
Address: In the Village of Goodrich
Phone: 01600 890538
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 .
Written Sep 16, 2009