Please excuse us a bit of a delay with posting the second part of our visit to Goodrich Castle. We have been working really hard on preparing the holiday special edition of the Kat-a-log project and we had to find some good locations! We traveled to beautiful lakes near Rita’s home town and took at least 150 pictures. Please keep your eyes open, the next edition of Kat-a-log will be just purrfect.
Today’s blog will be dedicated (yet again) to Goodrich Castle. Rita and Mal have chosen the 30 best pictures of the castle and the surrounding grounds, and we would like to share them with you. If you have missed the part one published several days, please click on the link below. The castle has a fantastic history (George R. R. Martin could write a new fantasy saga based on it!) so you won’t feel disappointed. The entry has been divided into small parts, making it a bit more understandable for the readers. Please enjoy!
To quote Wikipedia, Goodrich Castle is: “now ruinous Norman medieval castle situated to the north of the village of Goodrich in Herefordshire, England, controlling a key location between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye. It was praised by William Wordsworth as the ‘noblest ruin in Herefordshire‘ and is considered by historian Adrian Pettifer to be the ‘most splendid in the county, and one of the best examples of English military architecture’. The castle has been built in the 12th and 13th century and was inhabited until the English Civil War in 17th century. It has been an tourist attraction since the times of Queen Victoria, drawing thousands of visitors per year.
2. Roaring Meg and the Civil War
Goodrich led rather peaceful existence until 1646 when the Parliamentarian forces attacked the castle during the campaign to conquer the Welsh boarder. Several hundreds cannon balls have been fired during the siege at the south west corner of the castle causing little damage to the thick castle walls strengthened by the hill and limestone on which the building has been constructed. To conqueror the castle, colonel John Birch ordered the casting of a powerful mortar at the local village. The mortar could fire nearly 200 pounds of gunpowder-filled shell into the air. The gunpowder exploded right after the firing and the walls were bombarded by thousands small firebombs. The mortal nicknamed “Roaring Meg” easily tore through the northern walls and melted one of the towers. On 31st of July 1646, Royalist forces led by Sir Henry Lingen surrendered, were arrested and sent to Hereford for a trial. Roaring Meg was welcomed by the citizens of Hereford as a savior and was granted a special place on the Castle Green in the city center. It was returned to Goodrich in 2003.
In its prime, the castle was a high-tech and modern building with many innovative solutions that were absolute novelties in the middle ages. It had an irrigation system for the castle garden and stables, fully functional drainage system with private and public toilets, baths and drinking fountains, mechanical gates and traps making it almost impossible to break inside the fortress. The buildings were very luxurious, with long sunny galleries called solar blocks, huge fireplaces and even heated windows seats. The castle had its own chapel, forge and utility buildings making it a self-reliant entity.
4. The Great Hall
We wish, we could see the Great Hall as it once was. It was a huge room, hidden under the pointy wooden roof, with large, highly decorated beams. Today, it’s just an open room without the roof and windows. In the 13th and 14th century, the Great Hall was the heart of the castle. Many lavish parties, feasts and weddings ceremonies took place there. The lord and lady of the castle were usually sitting in the middle of the long table surrounded by their family, members of the clergy, noble guests and their friends. The dishes would arrive straight from the kitchen and the smell while the dinner was cooking would fill the Hall, keeping the quests hungry.
5. The Keep
The Keep is the oldest part of Goodrich Castle. It replaced the first wooden watch tower raised in the 11th century by Godric of Mapplestone. The stone keep was probably constructed some 100 years later for Richard De Clare known under the name of Richard Strongbow and the whole fortress was built around it. You can climb to the the top of the Keep for some spectacular views of the castle and the local villages. Large dungeon (probably a wine cellar) and a prison were located in the Keep’s basement.
6. Solar Block
Solar Block was the most private and the most important part of the castle. This is where the lady and the lord of the castle lived. The name “solar” comes from a large chamber that was the heart of the block. The Solar chamber has been lit by large windows and maybe even by a skylight (roof window), becoming one of the sunniest and warmest places in the castle, even during the dark, winter months. The tower behind the block is known as the lady’s tower, as it belonged to the Mistress of the castle and her daughters. A specially designated person responsible for managing the private quarters was known as a chamberlain. His or her main responsibility was taking care of the bed-chambers belonging to the lord and the lady and providing them with every possible luxury. Lower parts were inhabited by servants and the cooks.
7. Portcullis chamber and the Barbican
In the Middle Ages, the main gates were always the weakest point in the castle’s defense. The Barbican built around the main entrance, offered not only additional protection but also served as a warning to the potential enemies. Large barbicans were built to impress the visitors and show how powerful and impregnable the fortress was. The Barbican at the Goodrich Castle is D-shaped and was built by the same builders as the Tower of London. Goodrich Castle owner, William De Valence was the nephew of Edward I and the King wished that the Goodrich Castle resembled his own domain. The visitors had to dismount their horses before the guards and had to wait to be admitted to the castle. A stone bench and a latrine were available for them, as well as food and water for the animals. Once a permission to enter the castle was granted, the visitor had to cross long wooden bridge and pass through the main gatehouse. Portcullis chamber built at the top of the gatehouse housed the mechanism responsible for raising and lowering the portcullises in the passage below. The Portcullis chamber at Goodrich is still in perfect condition, the mechanism is now gone but a new one could be installed at any moment 🙂
8. The romantic views and shopping
Goodrich Castle is not only a place to visit on Sunday afternoon or to learn the medieval British history. As Rita was told, many couples became engaged while visiting the ruins and many have been married at the castle and in the local churches. We have seen several artists and painters during out trip as well, making sketches or writing poetry. The dramatic setting of the castle is a perfect scenery for an open-air theaters and screened performances.
Whatever is your reason to see the castle, you will never forget the sights! And at the end of the journey, you can make some purchases at the souvenir store. We bought a small fridge magnet in full armor and toffee chocolates called “Rabbit droppings” 😀 They were hard as stones (but very nice!)
It was a long and tiring journey but we are glad you managed to stay with us to the very end.
If you are visiting Hereford this Saturday, 13th of July and you’d love to meet, real knights, battles and historical fugures, please stop at the Castle Green and take part in Historical Hereford Day organized by the Herefordshire council and historical societies. Last year Rita was running around the High Town wearing a costume of an inn landlady from 18th century 😀
All important information are available on Historical Hereford official Facebook page:
Have a great day,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz