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Croft Castle

Mortimer's Cross, Herefordshire, map reference SO 449 655

Text copyright by John Northall
With acknowledgements to The National Trust and Discovering Castles by John Kinross.

Photographs copyright 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Croft Castle is now a lavish country mansion but it started life as a Norman stronghold on the border of Wales.

The original castle at this site was an earthern ringwork and has been shown by recent excavation to have been similar to Stokesay Castle. A circular ditch surrounded a curving earthern bank which was topped by a palisade of stout timbers. There were timber buildings within the enclosed area and the ramparts may have been strengthened by the addition of wooden watchtowers.

A larger stone castle was built to replace the earth and timber castle around 1400 AD. The new castle was of quadrangular plan and had high but relatively narrow round towers at each corner. It may also have had projecting square turrets at the mid points of each wall but only the turret on the north side now remains. The four round towers still exist to their original height and their battlements have been restored in later years.

The castle was involved in the battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461 when Sir Richard Croft set forth from it with his soldiers towards the battleground a few miles away. A decendent of Sir Richard fought for King Charles at Stokesay in the 1640's during the English civil war and, following the eventual Royalist defeat, Croft Castle was slighted to render it incapable of further military service.

Restoration took place later in the 17th century when the castle was converted into a mansion but the Croft family sold the castle in 1746 due to financial presures. The castle was then further remodelled in the Gothic style by Richard Knight, the son of a mine owner from Shropsire.

Large ornamental windows now adorn the walls and the original entrance has been replaced by a grand hallway. The original stonework of the towers and lower parts of the high walls between them can be diffentiated from the later work by their distinctive stone blocks. There is no sign of the broad, deep ditch that surrounds similar castles built on flat ground.

The Crofts repurchased their ancestral home in 1923 and Croft Castle is currently maintained for public viewing by The National Trust. It contains rare furniture from the 17th to 19th centuries and has impressive plasterwork and gardens. The earthwork remains of the old ringwork castle can be seen amongst trees in the adjacent meadow.

 

Additional photographs of Croft Castle and the adjacent church of Saint Michaels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View Mr Northall's other contributions to the Castles of Wales web site
Visit the official Croft Castle website (National Trust)

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Copyright 2009 by John Northall and the Castles of Wales Website