Hey everyone, welcome back to another castle ruin walking tour. Today, we are so excited to be showing you around a strong and imposing castle ruin that was equipped with the most up to date defensive features that included drawbridges, arrow loops and concentric curtain walls, join us as we explore the glorious, Goodrich castle.
The castle is a Norman medieval castle ruin north of the village of Goodrich again in Herefordshire England; it controls a key location between Monmouth and Ross on wye. It’s been considered one of the best examples of English military architecture and we can certainly see why. It’s located on a spur of land overlooking the River Wye, on the border with Wales.
The castle is almost certainly named for Godric Mappestone (or Mappeson), who is mentioned in the Domesday Book as owning land in the area, he constructed the castle in 1101, although nothing of what Godrich built still stands today but it’s said that his name Godrich was then simplified and known today as Goodrich Castle.
Throughout the 1100s it was passed around through various generations but a small stone keep was erected sometime in the early 12th century, this was perhaps during the reign of Henry ii. Henrys royal accounts do not actually tell us of any major expenses during that period however, it is equally possible that the stone keep was built by Lord William Fitz Baderon of Monmouth during the civil war. We know that Baderon seized Goodrich during the anarchy and that the defences were strengthened during his brief possession of the castle, but Gilbert de Clare was thrown into the ring too after the castle was transferred to him after the war.
The origins of Goodrich castle were structurally simple in design, but that soon changed in 1204 after King John granted Goodrich to William Marshall, who was one of the most powerful knights of medieval England.
A stone curtain wall was built to deter and to enclose the site, with mural towers added for additional defence, but the major work at Goodrich took place under a later Earl of Pembroke, with the name William de Valence. De valence made quite the statement and rebuilt the earlier castle in the style of Edwards the 1sts concentric castles in north wales, a style that is very rare in England.
De valences new look of Goodrich was square in design providing extra defences to the south and east with a rock cut ditch. Large round towers at the three corners and a massive gatehouse at the fourth, the towers rise above from wide spurs that created a cylinder shape with an enlarged base. This meant that a direct attack from ground level would have been near on impossible and countered any attempts to undermine the walls.
Inside the curtain wall were ranges of domestic buildings, which included a beautiful grand hall, this hall incredible to see and the size of the hall, it would have been a very important place back in daily life. Grand ceremonies took place here and significant guests were entertained. You are still able to see the very large fireplace outlined in the walls and at the far end you can see two doors that would have led into the buttery and pantry on the towers ground floor.
Other rooms include the kitchen, this was one of the rooms that aren’t well surviving, but this kitchen block would have had to serve the entire household, which could include over 200 people, it was positioned to serve the great hall just beside it. At either ends of the fireplaces they are the remains of bread ovens built in the 13th century.
Another fantastic part of visiting is being able to walk up the the keep, a very dark and narrow staircase leads you to the top and it gives you the best viewpoint of the castle and the surrounds in the background. Honestly its worth the steep climb for the panoramic views of the wye valley alone.
In our personal opinion, coming to Goodrich is a castle ruin not to be missed, it really is one of the best examples in England of a medieval castle, it isn’t a huge castle ruin, but it is steeped with history and enormously interesting why wouldn’t you want to spent your day here? Run by the English heritage and open all year round with a few exceptions, the prices for visiting here are exceptionally good when you consider what you are getting from it so it’s one of our top castle ruins to visit.