Herefordshire is steeped in amazing history, being on the borders of England and Wales, there have been many great battles fought here over the centuries, from the Roman invasion of Britain to the Norman invasion, and many smaller battles right up to the English Civil War.
Many of these castles were built or strengthened after the Norman Invasion in 1066, and some, such as Goodrich Castle have long been tourist attractions.
We take a look at some of the best castles in and around Herefordshire, all of which are a short drive from us here at Wye Rapids House (Goodrich is walkable from Symonds Yat).
Kinnersley Castle in Herefordshire, England, is one of the many marches castles along the Welsh Borders. The Castle of Kinnersley, on the A4112 3 km east of Eardisley, was originally a stone structure, thought to have been built during the reign of Henry I of England.
Goodrich Castle is a Norman medieval castle. Initially built as an earth and wooden fort in a prime location overlooking the River Wye, the fort was rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. Goodrich was successfully besieged by Colonel John Birch in 1646 during the English Civil War with the help of the huge “Roaring Meg” mortar. At the end of the 18th century, however, Goodrich became a noted picturesque ruin and the subject of many paintings and poems; events at the castle provided the inspiration for Wordsworth’s famous 1798 poem “We are Seven”. By the 20th century the site was a well-known tourist location, now owned by English Heritage and open to the public.
Eastnor Castle, whilst not old by Goodrich’s standards, is a fine 19th-century mock castle. The castle was built between 1811–1820. Major schemes of interior decoration were carried out by A.W.N. Pugin in 1849–1850. Eastnor remains a private home. It is a Grade I listed building. The surrounding gardens and parkland are designated Grade II*. The castle is open to tours by the public on certain months of the year; it is also a wedding venue.
Hampton Court Castle
Hampton Court Castle, also known as Hampton Court, is a castellated country house. The house is in the parish of Hope under Dinmore 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Leominster and is a Grade I listed building, which is the highest category of architecture in the statutory protection scheme. Hampton Court Castle started its journey in the early 15th Century and the estate has an interesting and varied history. The gardens and Castle are open to the public from Spring to Autumn, and the Castle hosts celebrations and spectacular weddings throughout the year.
Longtown Castle, also termed Ewias Lacey Castle in early accounts, is a ruined Norman motte-and-bailey fortification in Longtown, Herefordshire. It was established in the 11th century by Walter de Lacy, reusing former Roman earthworks. The castle was then rebuilt in stone by Gilbert de Lacy after 1148, who also established the adjacent town to help pay for the work. By the 14th century, Longtown Castle had fallen into decline. Despite being pressed back into use during the Owain Glyndŵr rising in 1403, it fell into ruin. In the 21st century the castle is maintained by English Heritage and operated as a tourist attraction.
Skenfrith Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Skenfrith in Monmouthshire, Wales. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. Possibly commissioned by William fitz Osbern, the Earl of Hereford, the castle comprised earthworks with timber defences. In 1135, a major Welsh revolt took place and in response King Stephen brought together Skenfrith Castle and its sister fortifications of Grosmont and White Castle to form a lordship known as the “Three Castles”, which continued to play a role in defending the region from Welsh attack for several centuries. The present castle dates from the 13th century. Edward I’s conquest of Wales in 1282 removed much of Skenfrith Castle’s military utility, and by the 16th century it had fallen into disuse and ruin. The castle was placed into the care of the state by the National Trust in 1936, and is now managed by the Cadw heritage agency.
Grosmont Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Grosmont, Monmouthshire, Wales. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. The caste was rebuilt in stone during the early 13th century, beginning with a new hall and then, on regaining the property in 1219, adding a curtain wall, gatehouse and mural towers. In 1233, a royal army camped outside the castle was attacked by rebel forces under the command of Richard Marshall. It was besieged in 1405 during the Glyndŵr Rising. By the 16th century it had fallen into disuse and ruin. The castle was placed into the care of the state in 1922, and is now managed by the Cadw Welsh heritage agency.
White Castle, also known historically as Llantilio Castle, is a ruined castle near the village of Llantilio Crossenny in Monmouthshire, Wales. The fortification was established by the Normans in the wake of the invasion of England in 1066, to protect the route from Wales to Hereford. During the early 13th century, White Castle was substantially rebuilt, with stone curtain walls, mural towers and gatehouses, forming what the historian Paul Remfry considers to be “a masterpiece of military engineering”. Edward I’s conquest of Wales in 1282 removed much of White Castle’s military utility, and by the 16th century it had fallen into disuse and ruin. The castle was placed into the care of the state in 1922, and is now managed by Cadw, the Welsh heritage agency.