Godric Castle, named after its owner, Godric Mappeston, is first mentioned in a document dated 1101-02. A three-storey tower was built in the mid 12th century using stone brought by river from the Forest of Dean. In 1204 the castle was given to William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke. He added a square enclosure with round corner towers. These were completely rebuilt by a later Earl of Pembroke, William de Valence, in the late 13th century. The thick curtain walls and massive round towers were constructed from red sandstone that was quarried from the rock around the base of the castle creating a deep moat on the south and east sides. The round towers on three of the corners are built on square bases with tall pyramidal spurs that clamp the towers to the rock base, making them difficult to undermine. The fourth corner has a large gatehouse which protected the entrance to the castle with a drawbridge, two portcullises and two gates. These defences were added to by William's son, Aymer, who added a semi-circular barbican at right angles to the gatehouse. He also added an outer wall on the north and west sides of the castle where there was a steep slope but no ditch.
At the same time as the strong defences of the castle were being constructed the domestic and residential accommodation was also improved. The Norman keep was converted for use as a strongroom and prison, and ranges were added to the three other sides of the courtyard, each consisting of a hall and a residential tower. During much of the 14th and 15th centuries the castle was the home to the Talbots, before they abandoned it in favour of more modern accommodation.
The empty castle was reoccupied during the Civil War by Parliamentary forces in 1643 and then Royalist forces in 1645. Following their surrender after a two month siege the castle was slighted to prevent any further use.
- On minor roads off the B4229 north of Goodrich. Signposted from the A40. The castle is a 400m walk from the car park
- Goodrich Castle, Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 6HY
- English Heritage. Open to the public. Admission fee
- For further information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk
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