Hereford Castle

Hereford means “army ford”, a reference to the turbulent days of its foundation when the Kingdom of Mercia was pushing westwards into Welsh territory. Excavations have uncovered the Saxon town rampart. For centuries the English settlers and the Welsh beyond the River Wye were uneasy neighbors, and in 1055 the town went up in flames. Harold Godwinson, later King Harold, drove back the invaders and rebuilt the shattered defenses. In Norman times, the enclosed area doubled in size and a walled circuit replaced the earthwork defenses from 1224 onward. Hereford rebuffed a Scottish army in 1645 but fell to Parliament at the end of the year. Damaged during these sieges, the city wall suffered the common fate of demolition and …

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall stands on a bluff overlooking the River Wye, two miles southeast of Bakewell. The situation and the embattled outline give an impression of strength from a distance, but as a castle Haddon is something of a mystery. Its complex building history suggests a manor house, which developed defenses but has been effectively de-fortified since. The story goes back to Richard de Vernon, who obtained a peculiar license in 1195. It allowed him to enclose his house within a wall, but the wall was not to exceed twelve feet in height and was not to be crenellated. Some of the wall and part of the chapel survive from that time. What stands today is a rectangular enclosure of the …

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle is the most splendid in the county of Herefordshire and one of the best examples of English military architecture. It is still impressive despite its ruinous state. The castle is perched on a rocky spur above the River Wye, four miles southwest of Ross-on-Wye. Godric’s Castle – no doubt named after Godric Mappestone, who held the land nearby – is first recorded in 1101. Nothing is left of Godric’s stronghold but within the bailey, very close to the later curtain, rises a well-preserved though relatively small Norman keep. Henry II took over the castle and the keep is generally attributed to him, but the royal accounts record very little expenditure here. The keep is a tall, square tower …