History and Stories
Goodrich Castle viewed from the south, with the south-east tower on the left and gatehouse and entrance causeway on the right

History and Stories: Goodrich Castle

Rising from a high spur of land overlooking an ancient crossing point of the river Wye, Goodrich Castle towers over the surrounding countryside. A castle has stood here since the 11th century, but most of what we see today was the work of William de Valence, Henry III’s half-brother, in the late 13th century. His castle survived little altered until 1646, when a two-month siege put its medieval defences to the test.

Delve into the history of Goodrich Castle, discover what life was like in the medieval castle and find out what happened during the Civil War siege.

View from the top of the keep at Goodrich Castle, looking across the gatehouse

Key facts about Goodrich Castle

  • Goodrich Castle takes its name from an English landowner, Godric, who built the first castle here in the late 11th century. Its fine Norman keep was added a generation later.
  • When William de Valence, a French nobleman, rebuilt the castle in the late 13th century, he created one of the most up-to-date castles of his day. Its impressive defences enclosed residential buildings of great complexity and sophistication.
  • Much of the castle was ruined by mortar fire in 1646, when Parliamentarians besieged it during the Civil War. Its Royalist garrison surrendered after a two-month siege.
  • Parliament used a locally made cannon called Roaring Meg to bombard the garrison into submission. The only surviving mortar from the Civil War, it is now on display in the castle courtyard.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries the overgrown ruins became a magnet for visitors, attracted by the Wye valley’s historic monuments and untamed scenery.
Read the full history of the castle

More about the castle’s history

  • Life in a medieval household

    Goodrich Castle was a thriving medieval household, where sometimes hundreds of people were living at any one time. Find out about some of the household members and their life at the castle.

  • The Siege of Goodrich Castle

    In 1646 Goodrich Castle was the scene of one of the most hard-fought sieges of the English Civil War, which Parliament finally won with the aid of a huge mortar, known as Roaring Meg. 

  • Life under siege at Goodrich Castle

    The 17th-century objects found at Goodrich Castle help us to imagine what life at the castle was like during the Civil War siege. View some of them in detail here.

Find out more

  • Buy the Guidebook

    Packed with plans, reconstruction drawings and historic images, this guidebook includes a tour of the remains and a full and fascinating account of the castle’s history and owners.

  • Download a plan

    Download this PDF plan of Goodrich Castle to find out how it has evolved over time.

  • English medieval castles

    Once symbols of power and prestige, England’s medieval castles are now monuments to centuries of history. Discover the stories held within their walls.

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