We joined English Heritage earlier this year, and after visiting Bolsover Castle, were keen to visit some more castles. Goodrich Castle is in Herefordshire and not too far away from us, so we chose this as our next site to visit.
There has been a castle at Goodrich since the 11th century, but the impressive ruins which can be seen today were built in the 13th century, by the French nobleman William de Valence. He rebuilt Goodrich Castle to create one of the most up-to-date castles of the time. We used the audiotours to guide us around the site and found out so much about medieval life in the castle. Pretty soon, we could easily spot signs of where washbasins and fireplaces would have been in the different rooms.
I think the most interesting part of the castle from my perspective was the gatehouse. This was built to include portcullises and murder holes!
To the left of the gatehouse is the chapel. Although this is a 13th century building, it contains two modern stained glass windows. One of these is a memorial window which commemorates the scientists, engineers and servicemen involved in the development of radar, and the tragedy of June 7th 1942 when an aircraft carrying the prototype bombing aid radar crashed close to Goodrich Castle, killing all eleven people on board. The other stained glass window, the Millennium Window, was installed in the year 2000, and its design features the rock on which the castle stands, as well as the meandering River Wye. Three faces symbolise the three parish communities of Goodrich, Marstow and Welsh Bicknor.
Goodrich Castle was the site of a famous seige during the English Civil War. The Parliamentarians used a locally made cannon called Roaring Meg to bombard the Royalists into submission. This used gunpowder-filled shells to inflict serious damage on the castle in 1646. You are able to see Roaring Meg in the inner courtyard of Goodrich.
As impressive as the castle ruins are, it is also well worth climbing the winding stone staircase to get to the top of the tower. From here, there are some stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
After exploring the ruins of the building, we wandered around the outer ward. From here, the castle looked even more imposing.
We really enjoyed Goodich Castle, and using the audioguide to take us round really helped ensure that we saw all the key features and learn much more about the castle than we would have otherwise. Although there are information boards around the site, the audioguides made the information much more accessible for the girls, and allowed Rich and I to find out more than we would normally be able to do so with the girls. They are free to use, and I would definitely recommend them if you do visit.