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.
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.
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.