In June 2021, Steve and I were away for his Mum's belated birthday celebrations and funnily enough we were talking castles. I think I was reading a book about the history of the UK and the north-south divide at the time. Whilst talking we thought we would look where the nearest castle was and lo and behold there was a castle about 15 minutes away from the house. So off we went to visit Goodrich Castle. 

Goodrich Castle was the first castle in England that the Castle Casanovas visited. At the time of writing, we have actually only visited one castle in England, but we do intend to change that in the coming weeks - goodbye Sundays! 

A Brief History

Of course I love to purchase a good little book during our visits to castles such as Goodrich. They are really handy if you miss the tour or if you fancy a little more information than the boards have to offer. The tour guide books are also excellent for when you are trying to figure out a part of the castle that has no signage. 

11th & 12th Century

As far as historians can tell, they believe Goodrich Castle came into existence prior to 1101. The jury is out a little bit on this though as apparently Victorian historians believe it dates further back and was possibly built around the time of King Canute. 

In 1101-1102, Godric Mappeson built the first castle on the site (according to Doomsday records). However, nothing remains of the original castle except its name, which lives on as Goodrich Castle.

In the 12th Century Henry II decided to get a bit frosty with the Welsh and in order to protect Goodrich Castle a small square keep (fortified tower) was built to strengthen the castle's defences. Historians estimate the stone keep was added between 1120-1176, which ties in with Richard De Clare's ownership of Goodrich. The stone keep is believed to be the only standing part of the castle remaining from this era. Richard De Clare obtained notoriety for being conquer of Ireland and upon his death in 1176 his estate reverted to the Crown as his heirs were only children.

13th Century

Goodrich Castle remained under the ownership of the Crown until 1204, when King John gave ownership to William Marshall (Earl of Pembroke - who had married Richard De Clare's Daughter, Isabella, in 1189).

Goodrich Castle was further improved by William and he also improved the castles at Chepstow and Usk. He is said to be one of the greatest castle builders of his time. 

William remained loyal to the crown until his death, assisting Henry III's rushed coronation when the young king was only 9 years old and fending off an attack from the Welsh during Henry III's coronation dinner. It is also recorded that William and Goodrich played a central role in expelling the French in 1217 and he remained regent of England until his death in 1219.

William's five sons then inherited Goodrich, but all had passed away by 1245. With no male heirs remaining, Goodrich passed to the daughters and their descendants. 

In 1247, Joan inherited Goodrich and married William De Valence, a french nobleman. Interestingly, he was Henry III's half brother. 

William died in 1296 and Joan continued residing at Goodrich as it formed a part of her dower. She spent most of her time at Goodrich and was often accompanied by her Sons and their families. 

14th Century

Joan died in 1307 and her Son, Aymer De Valence became the owner of Goodrich Castle. He remained an important part of English politics and remained supportive of the Crown. 

In 1317, Aymer was kidnapped by a french nobleman and imprisoned whilst returning from a mission to the Pope He paid his own random of £10,400 which ruined him financially. 

Upon Aymer's death he had no heir and therefore, his niece Elizabeth Comyn. As she was a minor, custody again returned to the crown. Elizabeth was later forced to give her possessions to the crown to enable a new custodian to take over Goodrich castle. Custody was given to Hugh Le Despenser in 1325. However, Elizabeth's husband, Lord Talbot, seized the castle in her name in 1326. The Talbot family kept Goodrich for many years. 

15th Century

The Talbots forfeited Goodrich after the Second Earl of Shrewsbury died in 1460. In 1485, the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury then regained his lands and took ownership of Goodrich. 

16th Century

At this time, Goodrich was used less and less, although it did remain in use as a prison. In 1575, Gilbert and Mary inherited the castle. 

17th Century

Upon Gilbert's death in 1632, Goodrich passed to Henry Grey (the heir to the earldom of Kent) and it was let to tenants. 

In 1643, Goodrich became embroiled in the English Civil War, which started in 1642. From 1643, it was occupied by Royalists under the command of Henry Lingen and by 1645, it was the centre of the Royalist campaign. 

On 31 July 1646, the Royalists surrendered under threats of the further use of the deadly Parliamentarian mortar ('The Roaring Meg'). The use of the Roaring Meg had already destroyed the Lady Tower (Goodrich's North West Tower) and it was pretty potent at punching holes in the castle's walls and defences, weakening the Royalist's position. 

18th Century

Goodrich Castle predominantly becomes a tourist attraction. Tourists were drawn to the beautiful Wye Valley and to the ruins of Goodrich Castle. However, Goodrich Castle looked very different to how it looks today. 

20th Century

In 1920, the Office of Works took custody of Goodrich Castle and began clearing the vegetation to take stock of the castle's structural position. Over the following decades, reconstruction works took place and Goodrich was stabilised and the surrounding area transformed to be more tourism friendly, with platforms added and easier access. 

In 1984 English Heritage took custodianship and remains Goodrich's keepers to this day.

 21st Century

Goodrich Castle is now one of Wye Valley's most famous tourist spots. It has a lovely cafe and shop. Incredibly knowledgable staff who are more than happy to give you tours and more insight into Goodrich's amazing history. A real Roaring Meg and lots of interactive and educational activities for all ages. 

Our Visit

We visited Goodrich in June 2021, when I was a few months pregnant. Goodrich was really accessible and I was very impressed with the even flooring and carefully thought out access points. I could still climb towers etc at this point, but I found the stairs well maintained and wooden stairs added to areas for better access (some castles have old concrete stairs that are a tripping hazard and yes, I have stacked it before). 

The staff were very helpful from the moment we arrived and gave a very informative talk about the Roaring Meg and the siege that took place where she was used. 

There is a carpark on site, which is included in your ticket price. An adult ticket is £11.70, a child (5-17) ticket is £7.00 and a family ticket (2 adults, up to 3 children) is £30.40. There are toilets on site (extremely handy when pregnant) and a cafe where you can purchase hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes. The shop was really reasonably priced and we purchased English Heritage quiz cards (a very difficult game to play and Steve nearly purchased some armour, but lets face it we have nowhere to put it with the house full of baby stuff. 

From start to finish the whole trip probably took around two and a half hours. This included a mooch around the shop, a few bathroom breaks and a cup of tea to finish off the day. Definitely recommend a visit if you are ever in the Wye Valley.

The Challenge

So this is castle 1 out of 251 - Hoorayy!! We are off the ground with visiting our English castles as a part of our challenge. 

We hope you have enjoyed our first castle post! Keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram and TikTok pages for the video showcasing Goodrich Castle. 

Next on our list is Beaumaris Castle in Anglesey, North Wales, which we have already visited we just need to write up and create the video and social media content. 

Until Next Time

The Castle Casanovas


*Credit for the History aspect of this blog goes to Jeremy Ashbee's book Goodrich Castle, purchased whilst at Goodrich Castle, and the Goodrich Castle website - paraphrased for the purposes of this blog*

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  1. That brought back some memories as I last visited this castle about 15 years ago. At the time I was convinced I could visit all the castles but sadly still not managed it yet as life and family happened. Maybe one day!

  2. Have you seen castles in Ireland? They’re sooo cool!


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