Resistance strategy was a complicated affair of invasions between Wales and England during the time of the Welsh Marches on both sides. In the northwest portion of Herefordshire, Burford Barony mixed with the Welsh, as well. We are quite fortunate to be able to see a few of the medieval castles intact enough to view but many more were reduced to less than rubble. Books available through www.castles99.ukprint.com will impart further historical details of this fierce back and forth struggle during the Middle Ages for those who wish to know more history in detail.
Medieval-Romantic Revival castles can be found throughout England and I have well-covered quite a few in almost every county which I have written about thus far. Curiously enough, Herefordshire led the way in being the first county to raise the standard of this architectural cult of the most recent centuries. Eastnor Castle was one and several more in this entry are the grand purveyors of revivalism. We shouldn’t be surprised that the English would resurrect these one-time military instruments as architectural styles or would gentrify their remaining fortifications. It is almost to be expected given the authentic historical reality which surrounds them. Americans should view the revivals as a chance to see medieval architecture in its ideal even if they are primarily romantic fantasies. A vast contradistinction of the true medieval or pre-Conquest castles and these relatively new domestic edifices abound in an astounding array along the border between Herefordshire and Wales. If you recall Cheshire and Shropshire’s western borders you’ll find the same proliferation of varieties of castles.
– The Castle Lady
Located in the small village by the same name Brampton Bryan Castle’s ruins can be found in the uppermost portion of northwestern Herefordshire, about 50 miles south of the River Teme on a floodplain. The position guarded the important route connected to Ludlow through the Teme Valley, then to Knighton (within Wales border) and on into the central part of Wales. Although it is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the current stone foundations were most likely not laid until 1295 after which the quadrangular castle received a curtain wall with mural towers and a gatehouse with a long projected barbican sporting twin towers which, today, are reduced to half the original height. The original motte and bailey was founded by Richard Barre who was a vassal (subtenant) to the Mortimers of Wigmore Castle shortly after the Norman invasion. Eventually the castle was passed down to the Unspac family, who took on the name of the castle. They gained status by the 13th century and their progeny, Brian Brampton, led the fight against several Welsh uprisings until he was nearly a hundred years old ! His daughter, Margaret, married Robert Harley and the possession of the castle has been in the Harley family ever since, equating to almost 700 years of private ownership !
Even in its ruined condition, the layout can still be envisioned as a courtyard configuration with four ranges. The gatehouse was placed on the southern curtain and included private chambers, added later with a bridge and extensive barbican. All of the inner portion was constructed on the motte with a curtain wall surrounded by a moat. The north range included the main hall and service bay on the lower level and a kitchen existed on the east range. Evidence indicates that private chambers existed in both the inner gatehouse and barbican, as well.
A visit to this castle will reveal the kind of damage it received during the Civil War from two separate sieges. The ruins which remain are the reduced twin-towered barbican adjoined to the rectangular gatehouse, more or less, with a hall-block behind it. Inside, the wooden roof of the castle hall lies next to the keep of the castle. If you visit the rebuilt church nearby you’ll find it still contains the tomb effigy of Lady Margaret Harley.
Private but open occasionally.
Presteigne Castle and Castle Combe are among the nine castles of the Burford Barony which are reduced now to mottes. Presteigne was sacked by the Welsh at Christmas 1262 and it has been deduced by experts that Castle Combe suffered the same fate at the same time, neither being rebuilt. The northwest corner of Herefordshire is Mortimer country and was fought over as much among the English families as dealing with the Welsh. Ralph Mortimer married the widowed Princess Gladys Ddu who was the daughter of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (of Gwynedd.) This is one of the reasons that the Welsh Marches became so intertwined and complex.
Also among the nine castles, Byton Castle, not far to the east, lies closest to Stapleton Castle which is directly on the border. While nothing remains of Byton and historical records are sparse, Stapleton’s oblong bailey and wet moat along with the ruins of a later built mansion from the 1600s provide some insight to how lands were held in Herefordshire.
Byton Castle was replaced by St Mary’s Church which stands on its natural motte, now landscaped and very picturesque, while Stapleton, which was built by Osbern Fitz Richard previous to the Norman invasion, has remains of a house built in the 1600s. From the early 13th century to the beginning of the 14th century the original castle passed from the de Says to the Mortimers and ultimately to the Cornewalls after which Stapleton was taken over and garrisoned by Owain Glyndwr in 1403. There is no record of occupation by Glyndwr, however. The new building was still besieged by Parliament in 1645 with the Cornewalls in occupation, apparently, and they left in 1706 leaving it to the Harley family. After that, it was simply abandoned.
Wigmore Castle, yet another Burford Barony castle situated between Stapleton and Byton Castles, was founded by Earl William Fitz Osbern circa 1067. Ultimately it became the true power base of the Mortimers on the grant of William the Conquerer by 1086 after Earl William’s son, Roger of Breteuil, was imprisoned for insurrection against the king. This was one among many series of estates granted to Ralph Mortimer by the king and he was largely responsible for effectively invading the Welsh kingdom for him. The price of all this momentum of power would cost the Mortimer family forfeiture of almost all that he gained. In modern terms, he became power hungry and quite a bit delusional about his power.
By 1155 King Henry II seized royal fortresses back from Earl Roger of Hereford and Hugh Mortimer. Insulted, both barons rebelled. King Henry moved against them but Earl Roger capitulated to the king and helped Henry besiege his former ally. Along with his English army the king attacked Mortimer and for three months besieged his most important castles which included Cleobury Mortimer, Bridgnorth and Wigmore. Cleobury surrendered, but Wigmore and Bridgnorth held out. By July the king and Hugh Mortimer agreed to new terms which gave the Baron even greater power and was freed of royal interference and taxation ! Talk about recognizance, huh ? Despite the great terms, however, Hugh Mortimer and this Plantagenet King were never trusted or close associates again and Bridgnorth and Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire were surrendered to the King and shortly thereafter destroyed. (See my Shropshire entries in October of last year for more about Bridgnorth and Bishop’s Castle.)
Reconstruction of Wigmore was carried out in the 14th century and also later between 1461-85. The castle was used as a prison for part of the 16th century. Ruins are visible but rather sparse considering the grand fortress it once was originally.
English Heritage owned.
Five miles northwest of Leominster, the Croft family have occupied Croft Castle land continuously (with the exception of nearly two centuries from 1750 to 1920) from the time of the Norman invasion up to the present. At the time of the rebuilding it was owned by Richard Knight who was an heir of a wealthy iron-master from nearby Shropshire. Reconstruction took place during the first stages of the industrial revolution. Although it appears to be a castellated mansion it is built on the remains of a 14th century quadrangular-plan manor with the original walls and towers intact. After many changes through the centuries, mostly to the interior, it is now, basically, a Georgian country house.
Most of what is currently seated dates from the late 16th and early 17th centuries with later additions because the late-medieval castle was dismantled by Royalists in 1645. This included the removal of the medieval gatehouse which is now adorned with an entrance built in 1750. The interiors were finished, as they are today, in the 18th century with a Georgian-Gothic staircase and plasterwork ceilings.
You will find Croft’s lands belie a much earlier start than the Norman invasion if you check out the Iron Age Hill Fort at Croft Ambrey. It can be reached by an uphill footpath less than a half-hour distance walk away. You will be rewarded with a chance to view 350 year old Spanish Chestnut trees and beautiful outbuildings on your trek.
T- 01568 780246
Owned by the National Trust
Some miles east of Croft, and ten miles north of Leominster, the pre-Norman invasion Richard’s Castle, built in 1050 by Richard FitzScrob is certainly laid waste. Referred to as Auretone Castle in the Domesday book of 1086, this passed through such families as the Mortimers, Talbots and Pope families. Many features such as the bottom part of the keep, gatehouse and sections of curtain wall remain along with a very dilapidated but still impressive square tower. Considering that this was among the very first castles built under the Saxon King, Edward the Confessor, it is very fortunate that there is still so much to see.
Situated right on the northern border of Herefordshire into Shropshire, and only a little more than three miles southwest of Ludlow off the B4361, this became a strategic castle for the Mortimers during the early medieval period but many formidable historical people are associated with this once impressive stronghold. The castle is now reduced in many places to earthworks and foundations. The polygonal keep stood atop the high motte with many steep natural slopes and had a semi-circular barbican attached. In some places the boundary of the bailey stands twenty feet high with the ruins being portions of several towers and an early medieval gatehouse stands outside that perimeter. An eastern situated outer bailey most likely enclosed the 14th century St Bartholomew’s Church and a 13th century bell tower close by and there were borough defenses which are seriously reduced.
Abandoned by the 16th century it most likely was never approached by Cromwell’s troops. Today, it can be visited as it resides on public land but caution around ruins is always advised. Located off the B4361, take the unmarked lane beside the Castle Inn.
watch the video of Richard’s Castle !
Further south off of the A4110/4113 junction in the forest of Bringewood, Downton Castle’s original motte and the heavily castellated and built upon mansion sit in proximity within a perfect dichotomy and setting. First of all, the vista from these two positions above the Teme River are breathtaking with woody crags below them. The original ten foot mound which supported a 12th century stone tower is much reduced with only traces of the bailey and a huge tree has overtaken the elevation so its appearance is that of only part of a hillside. This is referred to today as Downton-on-the-Rock Castle and no traces of the tower or stones, for that matter, remain in sight.
Downton Castle, less than a mile away, was initiated by the nephew of Richard Knight (whose name was Richard Payne-Knight) in 1772. Taking advantage of the natural outlook, the building process took about six years and much of the aesthetics of the landscaping and building was derived from paintings by Claude, Poussin and Salvator Rosa mixing the medieval castle style with Gothic revival to make an ideal romantic setting. The feature of note in the interior is a circular dining room which is about thirty feet in diameter surrounded by rooms containing many valuable paintings.
The south-facing entrance evokes medieval elements of a central square tower adding six bays with an octagonal tower on one side and on the other, five bays flanked with a square tower- with embattlements all along the parapets. This magnificent medieval renaissance revival castle was added onto by a 19th century heir, Andrew Rouse-Boughton-Knight in 1860 by building a new entrance and porch with a northwest tower and chapel. The terraced gardens were created in 1865 by W.A. Nesfield completing this magnum opus of dream houses.
http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=13 click to see a video of Downton !
http://www.flickr.com/photos/broadsmarshman/4970647874/in/photosteam/ (panoramic photo)
Located just east of Hope-under-Dinmore and only four miles south of Leominster, Hampton Court was built as a quadrangular manor house in 1427 by Sir Rowland Lenthall. It was granted to him by Henry IV as a wedding gift upon his marriage to Margaret Fitzalan, who was the daughter of the Earl of Arundel, a cousin of the King. Lenthall had been knighted at the battle of Agincourt so his contribution was well appreciated. The estate of the property now encompasses 60,000 acres and the actual grounds include extensive gardens, the Van Kampen gardens, which are world renowned. In 1434 he was granted license to crenellate the original manor by the king and eventually his daughter married the Baron of Burford and the manor house became official royal property.
Sir Rowland’s grandson sold Hampton Court to Sir Humphrey Coningsby in 1510 and it remained in this noble Herefordshire family for hundreds of years. Upon the onset of the 19th century the entire estate was purchased by Richard Arkwright who was the son of a famous inventor. Richard’s son commissioned the remodeling of the manor in the 1830s to Charles Hanbury Tracy, better known as Lord Sudeley, later. It was rebuilt extensively through a period of more than a decade becoming palatial by comparison to its original size and specifications. The original gatehouse was given a machicolated crown and perpendicular windows dominate the faade. The family lived there until 1912 when it was sold first to a Mrs. Burrell and then a decade later to the Viscountess Hereford, wife of the 17th Viscount and grandmother of the present Lord Hereford. This was their family seat up to 1973.
The historic garden and grounds have nearly taken over the estate which are extensive including walled organic gardens, flower gardens, canals, pavilions, a maze and secret tunnels with a hermits grotto, waterfalls and a flooded sunken garden. Grand parkland views adorn extensive walkways and a conservatory designed by Joseph Paxton now offers full and high teas. Tours of the palace take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the gardens are open by 11 in the morning and close by 5 p.m. This is also an events and weddings venue.
www.hamptoncourt.org.uk events 01568 797676 ext 210
All that remains of Kington Castle is a great outcrop of rock topped by a few fragmentary earthworks and a ditch. The town, below, is built around the castle alongside a Norman church on top of a defensive hill above the River Arrow. It was built from the 12th century by Adam de Port circa 1072 on land granted to him by William Rufus and founded what was then a new Marcher Barony. A hundred years later Henry II had seized the castle from his grandson, also named Adam and it became a royal castle.
William de Braose was given the lordship over Kington some years later in his capacity as High Sheriff of Hereford and became King John’s favorite Marcher Baron. It reverted back to the crown during a dispute and was later granted to Roger Clifford in 1213 by King John. Apparently this was an affront to the de Braose clan and they attacked the castle a couple of years later to regain possession. They were unsuccessful and fled to Ireland but most met with death at King John’s behest.
By 1215 the castle somehow came into the possession of the two sons of William Braose who had died in France in 1211. King John showed up with his army in Hereford in July of 1216 and marched into Hay on Wye, which sits right on the Herefordshire/Wales border and offered Reginald de Braose new terms which would have benefited both the King and himself. He refused to accept the deal and the King burned down Hay on Wye and further marched up to Kington Castle and destroyed it and the town that surrounded it.
No refortifications or rebuilding took place from that time on for the castle but the town relocated further down in the valley. Reginald de Braose eventually gained favor from John’s son King Henry III and he built Huntington Castle. Kington is a walkers paradise and several paths pass through the town including the Mortimer Trail, the Herefordshire Trail and Offa’s Dyke Path.
Two and a half miles south of Kington and nearly surrounded on all sides by the Welsh border, Huntington Castle and Turret Castle, less than a mile apart, were put to the test for military strength alone. Of the two, Huntington’s configuration is much more unique and its position better, strategically. Each castle had its own bailey and built separately during different periods. Turret Castle was originally built circa 1090 and Huntington was reconstructed in stone by Reginald de Braose in the second decade of the 13th century. He reconstructed it from an earlier motte and bailey built by William FitzOsbern- ten or more years later. This area is often referred to only as Turret Castle because of the proximity of the remains of both castles. I have concluded that this would not be unusual considering that Castleton Castle, which was the first castle of the Clifford family, was built with two mottes and two baileys. Such construction is seen often and the purpose was usually strategic.
Huntington, however, eventually became the seat of the powerful de Bohuns in 1248. The tower was rebuilt in stone from that period and it eventually had a divided inner bailey with an upper and lower court. A dry deep ditch remains around the perimeter of the bailey except on the northwest side where a steep slope looks over Belleau Brook. Evidence exists to show that mural towers were part of the enceinte along with two gates. A fragment of the north tower, at a height of twenty feet, remains still adjoined to part of the curtain wall, a dramatic looking evidence of former glory, reduced. Other fragments of the curtain wall remain and most everything which can be seen is heavily overgrown with matted foliage.
The castle remained the seat of the de Bohuns, four successive generations running. Two daughters were left by the year 1372 and both married well. The eldest married Henry Earl of Derby who was to become Henry IV. After his accession to the throne in 1399 it passed to Edward de Stafford who was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury. It was at this castle in which Henry Stafford, who was the Duke of Buckingham, was eventually captured, accused of treachery by Richard III and taken away to be tried and imprisoned. The Welsh Marches were a treacherous business and only the truly strong were able to keep up their duties and deal with the subterfuge of the politics involved. It was refortified against Glyndwr in 1403 by his widow but the damage was extensive and the castle was declared worthless in 1460. It still passed through many families over the ensuing centuries until it was purchased by Edmund Watkins Cheese, Esquire in 1818.
Huntington can be accessed by two footpaths which run opposite the Village Hall.
Just outside Madley, only a mile south of Kington on the A44, at Castle Weir Farm- Lyonshall Castle retains only a portion of its curtain wall and a wet moat. This 11th century motte and bailey, originally built by the Devereux family, was rebuilt in stone by the 13th century and included a cylindrical tower which was erected on a low 30 ft wide platform motte and circular curtain wall with a well-formed moat and a bailey of three acres. This was ultimately the property of Roger de Lacy so its position as a border castle of a Marcher Lord was important and significant. Several other Lords of Lyonshall were historically significant, as well. Baron Bartholomew de Badlesmere, in 1322, was described on his execution as a great baron and a great rebel. This was not unusual for a Marcher lord to be considered troublesome to the king during any period during the Middle Ages. His sister and heir, Maud, married John de Vere who was the 7th Earl of Oxford and a hero at the Battle of Crecy in 1346.
A royal favorite, Simon de Burley, inherited Lyonshall in 1372. At the tender age of 14 he was sent to fight the Spanish and he remained a soldier until his capture by the French at Poitou in 1369. He became a court tutor, and his pupil , Richard II appointed him as Governor of Windsor and Llanstephan, in Wales. Eventually, he also became Master of Falconry and Keeper of the Royal Mews. As a result he was gifted with a large number of manors and estates for his service. Charged with treason by the Duke of Gloucester in 1388, his life was pleaded for by King Richard II and his queen for pardon but to no avail. He was executed that same year.
Lyonshall ruins are near the church and are quite overgrown with excessive foliage as it was abandoned sometime in the 15th century. A public footpath leads through a wooden gate to the east of the church and you can view part of the castle from this point but proceed no further as it is safely fenced off.
Just north of Kinnersley Castle on the south side of the town, Weobley Castle was once the seat of the barony of the de Laceys. As an 11th century castle, it began as the establishment of a village by Wibba in the 6th century who was the Mercian King Cridda’s son. His father’s hill fort was established a short distance away at Credenhill. Weobley village has had a part in every era of British history from Saxon times, through the Norman conquest, throughout the medieval period and the Civil War and yet it has mostly retained Tudor and timber-framed houses and buildings.
Only the impressive size of the motte and bailey, rectangular in shape, which are the only remains of Weobley Castle, will give you an idea of the importance of its history. During the Anarchy of King Stephen’s reign, in 1140, it was garrisoned and refortified against the king by Geoffrey Talbot. Stephen managed to confiscate it from Empress Maud after waging a long siege. A few years later it was used as a base by William de Braose in his rebellion against King John. Other families who gained possession of the castle through the centuries include the Furnivals, Ferrers and Craphuls. The Devereux, Earls of Essex, became the principal lordship of Weobley during the Civil War.
By the time of Leland’s visit in 1538 it was declared to be in a decaying state but still had good discernible features. That must have been an interesting visit considering the struggle for possession of this essentially royal seat. Its position in the Welsh Marches accounts for the fierce struggle. It had been rebuilt in stone around 1216-1223 against any Welsh invasions but it was never attacked by any Welsh forces, royal or otherwise. When the Devereux family was granted the property by Elizabeth I in 1388 it most likely was never occupied or any money spent on its upkeep. This is a shame considering that it once had a beautiful square keep on the motte, a gatehouse and curtain wall with six mural towers.
Public property. www.weobley.org
A mile south of Weobley, Garnstone Castle, a castellated mansion built of greystone, was designed by the venerable John Nash in 1807 for Samuel Peploe replacing an earlier castle on the property. Samuel descended from a long line of Parliamentarians. By 1887 it was up for sale, and unfortunately, it was demolished circa 1955-58 leaving dilapidated outbuildings around the property. One such property, Garnstone House, formerly a dower house, has been turned into a lovely little B and B with a large amount of land adorned with gardens and landscaping.
You’ll find evidence of a 14th century motte and bailey not far from the area where Garnstone Castle was demolished. This motte was excavated and listed as a scheduled monument in the 1970s. Another motte and ditch are farther off but no clear relationship to the remains of any other settlement or building in the area can be established by evidence or documentation of any kind. The former deer park and landscaped grounds are no less than two hundred acres and remain in a less than pristine state but are interesting with many varieties of trees of which Redwoods are included.
Kinnersley Castle is another Elizabethan manor which has had earlier days as a medieval castle- a true renaissance medieval fortification which was built onto rather than rebuilt in an earlier style. This is rather common, however, especially in England. The earliest recorded beginning was in 1340, when the original castle was passed to the Richard de la Bere family from the Kinnardsley family. Just west of Hampton Court and Weobley, the current house was rebuilt into an L-shaped mansion between 1585 and 1590 for Roger Vaughan, one of a series of different owners during its history.
Some of the medieval masonry is thought to remain in the staircase tower so it is supposed that the original castle was built in stone during the time of the change of ownership to the Vaughns. Upon visiting you’ll find, among other unusual features, decorative buttresses, a gabled roof, a battlemented central square tower and fine interior plasterwork which compliments oak paneling throughout. Above the fireplace in the old solar you’ll see an historical and exquisite carving of an oak tree rising from a Tudor rose. This depicted the celebration of the Armada victory, which saved the oak trees in the nearby Forest of Dean. (The Spanish had threatened to burn all of England’s oak forests down to prevent any further ship-building.) Eight acres of grounds containing yew hedges, a walled kitchen garden and an enormous Ginkgo Biloba tree, which is one of the largest in the country, are featured along with the house and a Norman Church nearby is recognized as a part of the parish with an unusual 13th century tower and wall paintings designed by Bodley.
T-01544 327507 firstname.lastname@example.org
A fortified house attributed to Roger de Lacey which was seated five miles south of Kington and west of Leominster, Eardisley Castle met its demise in a fire during the Civil War. Built in the 11th century on a motte and surrounded by a bailey with a nearby stream as a moat, Eardisley was eventually passed to the possession of the Crown by the late 14th century. From the time of 1272 it was the chief residence of the Basqueville (later, Baskerville) family but lordship of it was changed quite frequently. In 1263 Roger de Clifford kept the Bishop of Hereford, Peter de Aquablanca, imprisoned on the premises. Only after the de Bohuns, who were Earls of Hereford, ceased to inhabit the castle in 1372 were steps taken to retrieve it for the King.
In 1403 Henry IV had it refortified in anticipation of attacks by Owain Glyndwr but much of the fortification was in ruins when the de Bohuns left. It was most certainly built in stone at some point because evidence of stone was found by the time of an excavation carried out in the 1970s. At the time of the Civil War, Sir Humphrey Baskerville, who was a Royalist, was the defender and it was burned to the ground leaving only a gatehouse standing. Whatever was still left by 1670 remained occupied by the Baskerville family- in abject poverty. Today, only the mound and a wet ditch remain.
Open to the public.
Not far away from Eardisley, the medieval Pembridge village, situated at a midway point between Kington and Leominster, was the original seat of the Pennebrugge (the name mutated to Pembridge) family before they moved south to Welsh Newton close to the southernmost border of Herefordshire and built the magnificent castle that is seated at that location presently. What remains of the former seat of Richard de Pembridge is a flattened motte with an old but surviving moat. The entire village is primarily 15th and 16th century black and white timber framed houses many of which have faded with time and wear. Quite possibly few places in England are so authentically ‘unspoiled medieval’ than Pembridge and her closest neighbor Eardisland and the village once enjoyed a prosperity akin to to nearby Leominster with its importance in commerce and its size exceeding their neighbor.
In fact, Pembridge was a busy market town granted a charter in 1239, and there has been several markets held there since that time. With a population over two thousand by the early 16th century, Pembridge became a hub for English wool merchants who came to meet with Welshmen to trade. When the Acts of Union with Wales was passed during the reign of Henry VIII the trade gradually declined. Market Hall still stands in the centre of the village with eight oak beams supporting a tiled roof. One of the wooden posts sits on the original medieval stone market cross base and when the building was restored in 2005 a coin dating back to 1806 was found under it, a marker from a previous restoration.
Behind St Mary’s church, there is a moat and mound where the first Pembridge Castle once stood. Nothing remains of the castle above ground but a recent archeological dig uncovered remnants of the foundations and stone walls. Roman Tegula (roof tile) has also been found on this site proving that the remains predate the Domesday census. Five more of these red tiles can be seen in the exterior of the east wall of the Church. The tomb of Sir Richard de Pembridge, who fought at the battle of Poitiers in 1356 can be viewed at Hereford Cathedral. You can see a photo of this tomb in my Herefordshire photo album on Live.com
Four miles north of Hay-on-Wye in Wales and perched on a steep slope above the river, Clifford Castle has occupied a strategic position from the 11th century when it was built by William FitzOsbern, Earl Of Hereford, as a motte and bailey. The name of the castle came from Walter de Clifford who took it over in 1130 and from that time it was rebuilt in stone clear into the 13th century. The Clifford family had originally held Castleton Castle which is about a mile north on the Herefordshire/Welsh border and its two mottes are still of impressive size. Rosamund, the famous Maid of Kent, purported to be the mistress of Henry II, is said to have been born at Clifford Castle. A property nearby bears her name which is that of Rosamund House.
Clifford was seized from the 2nd Earl of Hereford, Roger de Breteuil, for rebellion against the King in 1075 and Ralph Tosny took possession as overlord. Most of the building in stone was done under his direction, substantiated by the fact that it resembled the Tosny’s Conches Castle in Normandy. Presently, the subdivided motte remains, but the ovoid shell keep with its five D-shaped towers is gone from the eastern section. Portions of a north wall may still stand but most of the curtain walls have disintegrated. A large 13th century twin-towered gatehouse is a lone survivor and the western part of a dammed moat is broken and gone leaving the south side moat dry. The River Wye, which lies to the north of the castle, is the only water defense which still exists.
During the Baron’s wars, in 1233, Walter de Clifford III fought against Henry III to keep possession however, the King besieged the castle and took it over for a period of time. By 1310 the Clifford family took back ownership but did not resume occupation. As we should know, from reading Lady Anne Clifford’s diaries, the preferred seat at the time was Skipton Castle in Yorkshire where she- in fact- was born centuries later. Clifford Castle was subsequently given to another heiress in 1271, Matilda Clifford (a widow), who was abducted by John Giffard of Brimpsfield. He married her after being shamed into it by the King (Henry III) and gained ownership.
By 1311, before the rebellion of the Welsh and Owain Glyndwr in 1403, the Mortimers took possession of Clifford. After destroying large portions of the walls and tower, Glyndwr captured Sir Edmund and held him at Harlech Castle in Wales until he agreed to change his allegiances. By right, Clifford Castle remains a Clifford stronghold. Currently it is on English Heritage’s At Risk list and has been since last year.
Privately owned land.
risking it all for your enlightenment !