Croft, Herefordshire, England
Croft Castle and its 1500 acre estate and ancient woodland is situated four miles north of Leominster between the villages of Mortimer’s Cross and Orleton in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside.
The castle is approached along a tree lined avenue which reaches a gothic arched curtain wall, through the arch the roadway leads down the castle. The castellated manor house dating back to the 15th century comprises of a three story quadrangled main building built around a central courtyard with round towers at each corner and a small square tower on the north side added in the 16th century, adjacent to the front of the castle is a 13th century church.
Guided tours of the house are available between 11 am and 1pm (during the open season) with visitors being able to tour much of the house without a guide between 1 and 5pm. The castle also has its own shop and tea room and two self catering cottages sleeping 5 to 6 people.
A popular alternative or addition to a visit here is a hike along the Mortimer trail which passes through parts of the estate and a very important Iron Age Hill Fort.
The parkland is open year round from dawn until dusk and the castle Wednesday through to Sunday between 1 and 5pm March until November (everyday during August) with visits to the gardens and guided tours available from 11am, the castle is also open at weekends during November and December.
The original building on the site was built in the 11th century. The castle does not have a history of sieges and battles but the Croft family were extremely influential within the area. Herbert Croft was the Dean and Bishop of nearby Hereford Cathedral and Sir Richard Croft the Sheriff of Herefordshire. Most of the family members were involved in battles both locally at Mortimers Cross; on land they also owned, and also further a field. It was Sir Richard Croft who captured Prince Edward at the battle of Tewksbury in 1471 and was made a knight by Henry VI.
By the end of the civil war the Croft family were in deep financial difficulty and were forced to mortgage the property and leave. The castle changed hands several times before being sold to the new sheriff of Herefordshire, Davies of Wigmore. Finally in 1923 Sir James Croft’s trustees were able to buy back the castle and the whole estate was once again reunited.
In 1956 the estate was in trouble again after the death of Major Owen Croft. Death duties and escalating costs involved in its upkeep forced the family got together with the National Trust to raise funds for repairs and the continuing maintenance the property. Today although run by the National Trust the castle still has members of the family in residence.
Other Castles in the Area
Clun Castle, Shropshire
Ludlow Castle, Shropshire
Stokesay Castle, Shropshire
Wigmore Castle, Herefordshire
Hay Castle, Powys