Goodrich Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameGoodrich Castle
Alternative NamesCastello Godrici; Castellum Godarich; Coderick; Godrie; Godriz
Historic CountryHerefordshire
Modern AuthorityHerefordshire
1974 AuthorityHereford and Worcester
Civil ParishGoodrich

Ruined, earthwork, and buried remains of Goodrich Castle, which rises dramatically from the sandstone bedrock of a promontory overlooking a crossing point on the River Wye. The quadrangular castle encloses an earlier tower keep and has an outer ward on its north and west sides. It has a substantial dry moat, now grassed, on the south and east sides, and the drawbridge and gatehouse are defended by an outwork, or barbican. The first documentary reference to the castle dates to c.1100 and connects it with a local landowner, Godric Mappestone. At this time the castle was probably a simple enclosure with timber palisade and tower, although evidence for this has been obscured by subsequent developments. The stone keep became the focal point for reorganised defences during or shortly after the war between Stephen and Matilda, 1138-53, when the Earls of Gloucester and Hereford were disputing the area. At this time Goodrich belonged to Gilbert Fitz Gilbert de Clare, and returned to royal ownership in 1176. In 1204 King John gave Goodrich to William Marshal, who was probably responsible for the construction of the first stone wall and towers around the keep, a common undertaking of Marcher Lords along the Welsh border at that time. Under the ownership of William de Valence some time later, grants of oak trees and the presence of royal clerks and workmen recorded in the 1280s-90s suggest that substantial rebuilding was taking place, and the majority of the present structure dates from this period. The old keep was downgraded to create a prison, and three additional ranges were built, each with a hall and three- storey residential tower. William's wife, Joan, spent long periods at Goodrich after her husband's death in 1296, and manuscript records of her expenses provide a fascinating insight into life in a baronial household. Goodrich was the principal residence of the Talbot family in the 14th century, and it was they who founded nearby Flanesford Priory in 1346

The curtain walls of the barbican and outer ward also date to the 14th century. Some additional remodelling took place at Goodrich over the next 200 years' occupation, but by 1616, when it was sold to the Earl of Kent, the castle was disused. However, during the Civil War it was occupied for Parliament in 1643, then by the Royalists under Sir Henry Lingen in 1645. In March, 1646, the Roundheads laid siege and mined under the river side of the castle, which eventually led to its surrender. Goodrich was subsequently partly demolished to prevent its future military use, and the main timbers and lead roofs were removed. The standing remains are Listed Grade I. Evidence for the 11th century castle will survive buried beneath the existing structure, and a burial ground cut by the south eastern corner of the later moat may have been associated with this early phase. The graves were orientated roughly east-west, and appeared to represent several generations of use, perhaps as part of a parochial church within the outer court of the castle. The keep represents the first recorded stone structure on the site, and its masonry is of a higher quality than subsequent work. It is of coursed ashlar construction, using grey conglomerate probably from the Forest of Dean a few miles to the south. Its square plan, with walls 2.3m thick, leaves an internal area of only 4.27m square, and it is therefore unlikely to have formed the principal residence of its owner; it may have been associated with a free-standing great hall in the inner bailey. Externally there are shallow clasping angle buttresses with shallow central pilasters on all but the west side, a chevron-moulded stringcourse at second floor level, and a parapet, which would have hidden a gabled roof. Sloping stones in the walls indicate the pitch of the roof. Low on the north and west walls is a shallow chamfered plinth, below which the masonry is of lower quality than above. The original entrance was at first-floor level in the north wall, above the present 15th or 16th century doorway, and was probably reached by a wooden staircase. It is now occupied by a window with two trefoil-headed lights of c.1300. Two round-arched 12th century windows light the second floor in the north and west sides, and a later opening on the east side was linked by a bridge to the castle's south east tower. Internally, a spiral staircase, or vice, built into the north west corner, linked the first and second floors and gave access to the roof-walk. The present roof is a modern replacement. The position of the original wooden floors is shown by the large, plain stone corbels. Today there is a modern wooden staircase and platform within the keep. During the 13th century the castle's fortifications were enhanced by stone walls and towers around the keep, and the foundations of the 13th century south west tower can be traced in the basement of the existing one. The east curtain wall and the priests' seats, or sedilla, inside the chapel, also date from this period. Around 1300 the quadrangular castle was reconstructed in its present form from red sandstone quarried from the moat. This impressive ditch averages 27m wide by 8m deep, and defends the south and east sides. It was not necessary on the west and north sides of the castle where steep slopes provided adequate natural defence. Roughly square in plan, the castle has three round corner towers, with tall pyramidal spurs, with the twin towered gatehouse occupying the north east corner. This was defended by a D-shaped outwork, or barbican, which has its own shallower ditch and was entered via a drawbridge from the south. Its present bridge is a modern replacement. The lower parts of the barbican wall remain, with a stone bench around the inside. A stone ramp leading westwards, with a guard chamber to its north, leads to the main drawbridge, which was supported on arches and approached by shallow steps. Once over the bridge, the gate passage in the north east tower was overlooked by the porter's lodge to the north, which also has views over the ramp and outer ward. The chapel is to the south of the passage and shows several phases of modification. The trefoil windows at either end and the piscinas and the corbels are parts of a 15th century reconstruction. A staircase and upper doorways were added along with a wooden gallery, and another building linking the chapel to the guest hall to the south. The chapel's west window commemorates the Radar Research Squadron. The chapel's wooden ceiling is a modern replacement, but the chambers above it and the gate passage house the portcullis slots, 'murder holes', and recesses for the drawbridge's counterweights. The back-to-back fireplaces indicate these were chambers of some comfort, probably accommodation for the constable in charge of the garrison. The east range, south of the gatehouse, has a large latrine block at its south end, and provided communal accommodation for the castle staff and garrison. At least three phases of development here culminated in a building with two upper floors, probably added in the 15th century. The line of the roof of this building and of an earlier roof, and vestiges of the 15th century fireplace, can be seen in the chapel's south wall. The south east tower had three floors for domestic use and has window openings with seats and large hooded fireplaces. Between this and the keep is a vaulted 'dungeon', which retains slots for an external door bar. A kitchen area occupied the space south and west of the keep, and is probably 15th or 16th century in its present form, and the bases of the large ovens, fireplaces and a wall drain survive. The angular southward projection of the south curtain wall may echo the line of the earlier enclosure around the keep. The west range housed the castle owner's suite and includes the great hall, which was heated by a large fireplace and lit by three large windows in the west wall, two of which survive. Corbels and wall slots survive to show the level of the roof of what must have been an impressive chamber. There are references to an oak roof beam 20m long and 0.6cm square. The south west tower had two floors and a basement, the latter having a 15th century doorway and stairs down to the stables in the outer ward. The ground floor chamber, the buttery, was entered from a passage screened off from the hall. A doorway at the north end of the hall leads to a small chapel for the family's private use. Beyond this are the remains of the north west tower which was separated from the lord's private chamber or solar, to the east, by two pointed arches springing from a central pier, under a segmental relieving arch. These great arches would have been closed by wooden screens. The solar, another important room, also had large windows in its north wall, and was modified in the 14th century by the insertion of a third floor. In its basement a sally port and steps to the outer ward were protected by a portcullis and double doors. Here also is a recess with a sink, which was linked by a pipe to the castle's 51m deep well. The north range also originally housed guest accomodation, which was later reorganised and linked with the main chapel and gatehouse. The octagonal foundation of a late medieval archway remains between the latter and the solar. All four main ranges were linked by covered alleys, now modern paths, around the central courtyard. The outer ward was created by partly levelling the slope around the north and west sides of the castle, and is protected by a low curtain wall with small turrets at the corners. On the west side, the foundations, stone paving, and drain channels of the stables survive. (Scheduling Report)

Thurlby (2006) notes various comparisons with monuments in the region, on both sides of the Welsh border. The preponderance of segmental, rather than semicircular arches is also a feature of the Great Tower of Monmouth Castle; the type of combined tympanum and lintel possibly seen in the Great Tower's internal doorway here is a common feature seen also at Ludlow Castle and Kinlet Church (both Salop), and more locally at Brinsop, Kilpeck and Mathon (all Herefords) and Dymock and Pauntley (both Gloucs). Thurlby also notes that the type of triple-scallop capital with sheathed cones seen on the Great Tower N doorway also occurs as a loose stone found at Monmouth Priory, and at Kilpeck (Herefords) and Gloucester Cathedral, but this kind of capital is anyway relatively common. These parallels combine to confirm a date between c.1120 and c.1145 for the Great Tower. The elaborate chevron ornament on the jambs of the Great Tower windows pushes the dating to the very end of this range. It should be noted that although this dating places the Great Tower well within the period of the Herefordshire School, those sculptors were obviously not employed here. (The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland)

Gatehouse Comments

The earliest identifiably dateable part of the castle is the small square tower dated as c. 1140 (although there remains some contention about the dating). The rock cut ditch cuts through a small cemetery of ?late Saxon date. So there must have been something here pre-Conquest (presumably a church/chapel and hall). As a ridge end headland the site would be easy enough to fortify with a cross ditch at any date in its existence but the massive post-Conquest rock cut ditch will have obliterated and evidence for any earlier defence. The site is called castello Godrici after the post-Conquest Saxon landowner by 1101, this, fairly clearly, suggests Godric's manor house had some castle like quality during the period he held the manor (from before 1086 to1100). The medieval crossing point of the Wye may have been more directly under the castle.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO577199
Latitude51.8768005371094
Longitude-2.61581993103027
Eastings357700
Northings219980
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • < >Remfry, Paul, 2015, Goodrich Castle and the Families of Godric Mapson, Monmouth, Clare, Marshall, Montchesney, Valence, Despenser and Talbot (SCS Publishing) < >
  • < >Shoesmith, Ron, 2014, Goodrich Castle Its History and Buildings (Logaston Press) < >
  • Thurlby, Malcolm, 2013, The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture (Logaston Press) p. 213-4
  • Brooks, Alan, 2012, Buildings of England: Herefordshire (Yale University Press Pevsner Architectural Guides)
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
  • Thurlby, Malcolm, 2006, Romanesque Architecture and Sculpture in Wales (Logaston Press)
  • Shoesmith, Ron, 2009 (Rev edn.), Castles and Moated Sites of Herefordshire (Logaston Press) p. 128-41
  • Phillips, Neil, 2005, Earthwork Castles of Gwent and Ergyng AD 1050-1250 (University of Wales) p. 197-8 (slight) Download from ADS
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 537
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, Castles of Herefordshire and Worcestershire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 30-4 (plan)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 96-7
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 121-2
  • Furtado, Peter et al (eds), 1988, Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain (London) p. 125
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 206
  • Wilcox R.P., 1981, Timber and Iron Reinforcement in Early Buildings (Society of Antiquaries of London occasional papers 2) p. 28, 31
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 235-7
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 195
  • Sorrell, Alan, 1973, British Castles (London: Batsford) p.58-60
  • Pevsner, N., 1963, Buildings of England: Herefordshire (Harmondsworth) p. 137-9
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 175-7
  • RCHME, 1931, An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire Vol. 1: south-west p. 74-78 No. 2 (plan) online transcription
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 149-50
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Gould, I. Chalkley, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Herefordshire Vol. 1 p. 254
  • Seaton, 1904, in Reade, Memorials of Old Herefordshire (London) p. 135-44
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 103-7 online copy
  • Robinson, C.J., 1869, The Castles of Herefordshire and Their Lords (London: Longman) p. 65-70 online copy
  • King, Edward, 1804, Munimenta antiqua or Observations on antient castles (W.Bulmer and Co) Vol. 3 p. 248-60 online copy
  • Bonner, Thomas, 1799, Copper-plate Perspective Itinerary or Pocket Portfolio: consisting of ten views of Goodrich Castle, its environs, and Flanesford Priory on the banks of the Wye Vol. 2 (London: J.Cary)
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 115
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 2 p. 236-40 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 225
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906 The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 3 p. 47 online copy; Vol. 4 p. 167 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/itineraryofjohnl04lelauoft#page/167/mode/1up]

Journals

  • Neil Guy, 2016, 'CSG Annual Conference - Hereford - April 2016 - Clun Castle' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 30 p. 5-21
  • Lowe, R., 2015, ‘Richard Tyler c. 1589 to 1663 – sometime Constable of Goodrich Castle’ Herefordshire Archaeological News Vol. 83 p. 81-85
  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • 2008, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club
  • 2004, 'Archaeology 2004, Report of Sectional Recorder' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Vol. 52 p. 106
  • Archaeological Research Section Woolhope NFC, 1993, Herefordshire Archaeological News Vol. 60 p. 49
  • Shoesmith, R., 1985, 'Archaeology, 1985, Report of Sectional Recorder' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club Vol. 45.1 p. 312
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 319
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1986, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1985' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 30 p. 149 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1985, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1984' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 29 p. 184 download copy
  • Grey-Davies, T.G., 1970-2, 'The Goodrich bomb' Severn and Wye Review Vol. 1 p. 117-8
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • Faulkner, P.A., 1963, 'Castle Planning in the 14th Century' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 120 p. 215-35 (on domestic arrangements) online copy (reprinted in Liddiard, Robert (ed), 2016, Late Medieval Castles (Boydell Press) p. 79-100)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Wood, 1917, 'Notes on the Early History of Goodrich Castle' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 261-7 (history)
  • Seaton, 1901, 'History of Goodrich' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 211-24
  • Bull, 1870, 'History and Siege of Goodrich Castle' Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club p. 34-7
  • Baily, C., 1852, 'On an inscriptio and figures at Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 7 p. 56-61 (graffiti etc.) online copy

Guide Books

  • Ashbee, Jeremy, 2005, Goodrich Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • 1999, Goodrich Castle Colour Handbook (London: English Heritage)
  • Renn, Derek, 1993 (last reprint 2003), Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (London: English Heritage)
  • Radford, C.A.R., 1989 2edn, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (London: English Heritage)
  • Radford, C.A.R., 1984, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (London: English Heritage)
  • Radford, C.A.R., 1958, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (HMSO)
  • Radford, C.A.R., 1933, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (HMSO)
  • Seaton, 1895, (Ross on Wye)

Primary Sources

  • Round, J.H., 1899, Calendar of Documents Preserved in France - 918-1206 nos. 1126, 1127, 1129, 1136, 1142, 1145, 1148 online copy (1146 as Castellum Godrici, and thus linked with the Domesday landowner Godric Mappesone.)
  • Pipe Rolls 1178, 1178, 1189, 1193 (usually as place-name) (see Pipe Roll Society for references)
  • Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1183, Description of Wales view online transcription
  • 1906, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1232-47) Vol. 3 p. 52, 468, 481, 484, 506 online copy
  • Hearne, T. (ed), 1771, Liber Niger Scaccarii Vol. 1 p. 160 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1216-25) Vol. 1 p. 79 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1903, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1225-32) Vol. 2 p. 432 online copy
  • Stamp, A.E. (ed), 1929, Calendar of Close Rolls Henry IV (1402-05) Vol. 2 p. 111 (1403 as defensible) view online copy (requires subscription but searchable)
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 241-2

Other

  • Doyle, D., 2008, The Dungeon, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire. Excavation and building recording (HAS 807. Archaeological Investigations Ltd: Hereford) online copy
  • Doyle, D., 2008, Goodrich Castle Solar Arch Pier Capital and Remedial Work, Herefordshire. Historical Conservation and Building Recording (HAS 805. Archaeological Investigations Ltd: Hereford) online copy
  • Small, F. and Stoertz, C. (eds), 2006, The forest of Dean Mapping Project, Gloucestershire: A report for the National Mapping Programme (English Heritage Research Department Report Series no. 28/2006) p. 82 online copy