Richard's Castle, Herefordshire
North of Richards Castle Village
Richard's Castle can be found at the back of the picturesque church of St Bartholemew, just north of the village of Richard's Castle.
The castle is a wonderful find and grounds very well maintained.
With consideration you can park at the church and walk to the far side of the graveyard where you will find one of the earliest castle's built in England and pre-dates the Norman Conquest.
~ History ~
1013 ~ King Ethelred the Unready of England is overthrown by Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark. King Ethelred's son, Edward, is forced into exile in Normandy. King Sweyn dies the following year and is succeeded by King Cnut.
1035 ~ King Cnut dies, his sons follow soon after, which leaves the way clear for the Saxon Royal family to reclaim England.
1042 ~ Edward is invited out of exile to be crowned King, actively supported by the most powerful noble in the land, Earl Godwin, but at a price. Edward has to marry Godwin's daughter Edith. Godwin is able to dominate the King's council.
King Edward, troubled by widespread raids across the Welsh border and an unsuccessful campaign against the Welsh, culminating in a heavy defeat seven years into his reign, decides he needs a powerful counterweight to Godwin, and so invites a number of Norman nobles to settle in England. One of the Normans to settle is Edward's own nephew Ralph of Mantes, who in turn grants some of his new estates out to loyal men, such as Richard le Scrope, who he appoints Sheriff of Shropshire.
In order to secure the border lands against both the Welsh and Godwin, castles are built, including Richard's castle.
1066 ~ The death of King Edward 'the confessor' leads to a grab for power by Harold Godwinson who is proclaimed King, but this is contested both Harold Hardrada, King of Denmark as well as Duke William of Normandy, who claims Edward had promised him the throne. Following King Harold's triumph over King Harold Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and then his own defeat at the Battle of Hastings to Duke William, the Norman Conquest of England begins. Richard le Scrope is allowed to retain his estates and assists Edric 'the wild' Silvaticus Norman campaigns from Richards timber motte and bailey castle across the Welsh Marches.
1087 ~ Following Richard's death, his son Osbern Fitz Richard inherits his fathers estates and thrives under the new Norman regime, greatly extending his family's power and wealth.
1139 ~ Civil War breaks out between rival claimaints to the throne of England following King Henry I's death, between his daughter Empress Matilda and his nephew Stephen. Osbern's grandson Osbern Fitz Hugh, like every noble of the land, becomes embroiled in the complex politics during the period of Civil War Anarchy for the next fifteen years.
1185 ~ Osbern dies and his estates are inherited by his brother Hugh de Say, who becomes Lord of Richards Castle.
Hugh marries Lucia de Clifford, sister of the famous Rosamund Clifford of Clifford Castle. He builds a stone octagonal tower keep at Richards Castle. Later their daughter and heiress Margaret de Say, marries Robert de Mortimer.
1200's ~ King John grants a market to the hamlet of Richards Castle which in turn sees the castle and hamlet thrive.
1264 ~ The castle is attacked and seized for Simon de Montfort's cause against King Henry III.
1265 ~ Following de Montfort's defeat at the Battle of Evesham, the castle is returned to the Mortimers, who later rebuild the castle in stone.
1304 ~ Hugh Mortimer is killed through poisoning by his wife Matilda, who has previously been accussed of trying to poison her husband and other knights, but is always protected by King Edward I's Queen Margaret.
1307 ~ King Edward I dies and with his passing Matilda's royal protection is lost. Her enemies see their opportunity and have her murdered. The castle later passes through marriage to Richard Talbot.
1400 ~ Sir Thomas Talbot garrisons the castle against Owain Glyndwr's Welsh rebellion, but is used little thereafter and falls into gradual decline, as does the hamlet.
1500's ~ The castle is later described as 'a poor house of timber in the Castle garth for a farmer'.
1545 ~ King Henry VIII grants the castle to the Earl of Warwick. It is later leased out to various families.