Where there’s 1,500 acres to enjoy, and almost a thousand years to look back on
Pictures: © National Trust Images/Robert Morris/Nadia Mackenzie
Croft Castle, which was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and the Croft family who’ve called it home for much of its thousand-year history, have endured war as well as political and social change. Located in Yarpole, five miles from Leominster, the house is surrounded by 1,500 acres of historic park and woodland set in beautiful Herefordshire countryside.
While a building has stood on the site since William the Conqueror’s Great Survey, the Croft Castle that exists today originated in the 14th century and has been much altered since, evolving into a quadrangular manor house with castellated towers at each corner, arranged around a central courtyard.
Grade I-listed in 1956, Croft is now in the care of the National Trust. Members of the public can learn all about the history of the estate by taking a tour around the house, where displays featuring photographs, letters and other memorabilia chart the lives of some of the Croft family’s most prominent members. Outside, you’ll find the castle’s medieval St Michael’s and All Angel’s church, as well as a walled garden, historic orchard and vineyard.
“The walled garden is a beautiful spot, it’s an oasis, really,” enthuses head gardener Jon Kellett. “It’s the kind of place people aren’t daunted by as it’s not too formal and they can get ideas from it to put in their own garden.
“I love walking around the gardens first thing in the morning before we open,” adds Jon, who’s worked at Croft for six years. “You can appreciate them in the peace and quiet – it’s a lovely place to be.”
AT A GLANCE
Food and drink: Carpenter’s tea room offers seasonal hot and cold snacks.
Dogs: Dogs on leads allowed outside and in glazed area at Carpenter’s.
Accessibility: Separate mobility parking. Mobility toilet facilities at tea room. Wheelchair available. Grounds partly accessible. Induction loop. Sensory experience.
Prices (2016): Admission for the whole property is priced £9.45 per adult (£10.50 with gift aid) and £4.72 per child (£5.25 with gift aid). Family and group rates available.
With 1,500 acres to explore, Croft’s parkland is the ideal place to stretch your legs. You can take on five and a half miles of challenging woodland terrain on the Pokehouse Wood walk, explore the site of the Croft Ambrey Iron Age hillfort via a three-mile-long dog-friendly circuit, or take a leisurely stroll through an avenue of 350-year-old Spanish Chestnuts.
Open daily from February to October (check website for exact dates), Croft Castle runs a packed programme of events throughout the season. Highlights include an Easter Egg Hunt and outdoor theatre performances.
For further information, including precise opening dates and times, tel: 01568 780246 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croft-castle-and-parkland
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