GOODRICH CASTLE, HEREFORDSHIRE

Grid Ref: SO 579 199
Dates: 19 May 2018

 

Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire is a Grade I listed building and scheduled ancient monument in the care of English Heritage.  It controls a strategic location on the River Wye on a rocky sandstone outcrop between Ross-on-Wye to the north and Monmouth to the south and commands a river crossing.  It is thought that the first castle on the site, after the Norman conquest was of earth and timber and built by Godric of Mappestone an Anglo-Saxon mentioned in the Domesday Book.  The castle was part of the Welsh Marches, the border area between England and Wales.  It had a turbulent time during the Anarchy period from 1135 to 1153 when King Stephen and his cousing Matilda, both grandchildren of William of Normandy, contested the throne.  At the beginning of the 12th century the castle was in the hands of William Fitz Baderon, who may have been the son-in-law of Godric, and then passed to William's son Baderon of Monmouth in the late 1120s.  Baderon married Rohese de Clare from the family of Clare in Suffolk who also give us the names of County Clare in Ireland and Clare College in Cambridge.  The Clares supported King Stephen and it is possible that the stone keep was built during the Anarchy as Matilda had support in the south west. Stephen appointed Baderon's brother-in-law, Gilbert de Clare, as Earl of Pembroke and he eventually acquired Goodrich.  Gilbert's son, Richard de Clare was known as "Strongbow" and it is possible that he was responsible for the stone keep. At the end of the Anarchy period, Stephen was succeeded by Matilda's son, Henry, the son from her second husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, who became Henry II and the first of the Angevin kings. As the Clares had supported Stephen, Henry II took Goodrich from Richard de Clare.

The castle remained in royal hands until the time of King John who gave it to William Marshall, who was the Earl of Pembroke.  It is thought that he built the curtain wall with its towers.  However, in 1216, when John's son was being crowned Henry III, William Marshall had to leave the feast in Gloucester to reinforce Goodrich against the Welsh. William Marshall's son Richard was one of the barons who opposed Henry III and in 1233 the castle was beseiged and taken back into royal control.  William Marshall was succeeded in turn by his five sons, each becoming Earl of Pembroke but all died childless.  As a result, he estate was divided among his daughters. Joan Marshall, the fourth daughter, married Warin de Munchensi and had one daughter Joan.  She was married to Henry III's half brother, William de Valence, who then took the title of Earl of Pembroke. Because of the conflict with the Welsh, William de Valence demolished some of William Marshall's castle and built a larger castle around the original keep.  He was building at the same time as his nephew, King Edward I, was subduing Wales and building such castles as Conway, Caernarfon, Beaumaris and Harlech. William de Valence's son,  Ayner, continued the work prior to his death in 1324.

Goodrich has a role in another important phase of English History, during the reign of Edward II, when two favourites of the King, Hugh Despenser the elder and younger, became very powerful, seizing properties where they could, particularly from widow and heiresses.  In this case, Hugh Despenser the younger kidnapped Ayner de Valence's heiress, his niece, Elizabeth de Comyn, and forced her to sign over Goodrich to him.  However, Elizabeth married Richard, the 2nd Baron Talbot who captured the castle in 1326.  Edward II was deposed by his own queen, Isabella in 1327 and he was later murdered in Berkeley Castle.  The Talbot's retained Goodrich and in 1442, John Talbot, the 7th Baron was made Earl of Shrewsbury.  He died in the Wars of the Roses when the Lancastrians were defeated at Northampton in 1460.  For a time Goodrich was in Yorkist hands but John's son, another John, regained his land before he died in 1473.

The Talbots are remembered particularly in the Elizabethan period because the 6th Earl married, as his second wife, Bess of Hardwick and was given the custody of Mary Queen of Scots.  In the 17th century, Gilbert Talbot had no male heir and the castle passed to Henry Grey, Earl of Kent.   However, he did not live there and it was let to tenants. Goodrich went on to have a role in the Civil War.  Richard Tyler, a lawyer, was the tenant and with the aid of the Earl of Stamford defended the castle for Parliament until December 1643.  They were forced to withdraw to Gloucester and the castle was taken for the Royalists with a garrison headed by Sir Henry Lingen.  In 1646, it was recaptured for Parliament by Colonels John Birch and Robert Kyrle with the aid of the seige mortar known as "Roaring Meg".  After the Civil War the castle remained with the Earls of Kent until it was sold in 1740 to Admiral Thomas Griffin who maintained it as a ruin.  The castle had various owners until Mrs. Edmund Bosanquet gave it to the Commissioner of Works in 1920, who did repairs to stabilise the castle.  It is now in the care of English Heritage.

 

Goodrich
South side of Goodrich Castle from a panorama
Goodrich Castle
South East Corner of the Castle
 


from Moat spacer Corner
From the moat towards entrance bridge   Tower with chapel
Castle   Window
Looking NW towards the North Range   Memorial to Radar Squadron


Sources

Wikipedia Article on Goodrich Castle
English Heritage pages on Goodrich Castle

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