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The Croft estate was founded by a Norman knight, Bernard the Bearded around 1055. Under orders from Edward the Confessor, Bernard built the first Croft Mote and Bailey castle to protect the English borders from the troublesome Welsh. You can hear more about what happened after Bernard during one of our morning tours.
The White Roses
During the Wars of the Roses, Sir Richard Croft fought beside Edward Mortimer at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in1461 and became a trusted confindante when Mortimer became Edward IV. Richard's wife, Eleanor, was a governess to Edward IV's sons, who were put in the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard III, and never seen again. Their mysterious disappearence and public speculation gave them their title in history as the 'Princes in the Tower'.
The Crofts and the Tudors
Sir James Croft carved his name into British history forever by being one of the main leaders of the infamous 1554 Wyatt rebellion against Mary I. He was pardoned and eventually became Elizabeth I’s Comptroller of the Royal Household in 1570. Upon his death in 1590 the Croft family had the honour and prestige of having Sir James buried in Westminster Abbey.
The Crofts and the Civil War
Throughout the English Civil War, Rev. Herbert Croft was a staunch Royalist and was later rewarded for his loyalty by Charles II. Herbert was selected to be the Bishop of Hereford in 1660 and the Dean of the Royal Chapel in 1668. Herbert's eldest brother, Sir William Croft fought with the Royalist army, and after a fierce battle against the Parliamentarians at Stokesay Castle ensued, he was later killed as he was about to scale the park wall of Croft.
The Royal Obstetrician
Sir Richard Croft (6th Bt) was a leading obstetrician who was elected to care for Princess Charlotte during her labour in November 1817. Charlotte was the wife of Prince Leopold of Germany and daughter of the Prince Regent. Come and listen to one of our talks to find out about the tragic event that took place and how it transformed the Victorian era.
Sir James died in 1941 and the castle was left in trust and was used as a convent school until 1946. Lord Henry Page Croft then inherited the castle. Henry Page served as a Brigadier General during the First World War and was later appointed as Churchill’s Under-Secretary of State for War in 1940. It was in 1940 that Lord Henry was given a hereditary peerage, thereby becoming the 1st Baron Croft.
Did you know?
- In 1264, Hugh de Croft helped the future Edward I escape from captivity under Simon de Montfort, during the Barons’ War.
- Around 1396 John de Croft married Janet, daughter of Owen Glyn Dwr (the last Welshman to be called the Prince of Wales).
- Sir James Croft was captured and tortured in the Tower of London in 1554 for his involvement in the Wyatt rebellion.
A Royal Gift
The Baronetcy begins.
The Croft's undying loyalty to the British monarchy was rewarded in 1671 when Bishop Herbert Croft's son was created a Baronet. The title lives on to this day in Australia. In the gallery you can see a collection of family portraits, spanning across the many generations.
A Croft Farewell
The 700 year history of the Crofts came to an abrupt end in 1746 when Sir Archer Croft admitted bankruptcy after investing in the 1720 South Sea Bubble. Eventually Sir Archer ended up selling the castle and the estates to the self made millionaire Richard Knight, a local Ironmaster.
The Return of the Crofts to Croft Castle
After 170 years, in 1923, Croft was reclaimed by Lady Katherine Croft.Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the castle was brought back to life by Katherine and her children. They enjoyed many parties, balls and social banquets. Sir James excelled at sport, choosing to spend his time hunting, fishing and driving his extremely fast cars around the Herefordshire countryside.
The School years
During the Second World War the castle became home to St. Mary’s Convent School for Girls. Some of the girls' coat pegs and graffiti can still be seen on the attic walls today. In 1957, Croft Castle and its parkland came into the care of the National Trust.
The Coat of Arms
When Sir John Croft married Janet, daughter of Owen Glyn Dwr, the Croft family crest incorporated the Welsh Wyvern to increase their status as a family both in England and Wales.
The Coat of Arms
Today, only one lion remains on the Croft Coat of Arms accompanied by the family motto 'Esse quan Videri' – 'To be, rather than to seem'.
The dictionary maker
Rev Sir Herbert Croft (5th Bt) created a revised dictionary to rival the official English dictionary written by Samuel Johnson in 1755, however Herbert's work remains unfinished.