History

Back to the Doomesday book

In a word... stunning © John Millar

In a word... stunning

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

Peacefully at rest in St. Michael’s and All Angels Church  © Phoebe Lording

Peacefully at rest in St. Michael’s and All Angels Church

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

The Queen’s Comptroller © NTPL/Phoebe Lording

The Queen’s Comptroller

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

Bishop of Hereford © NTPL/Phoebe Lording

Bishop of Hereford

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

The Royal Obstetrician  © NTPL/Phoebe Lording

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.

Find out about our tours and talks.

Churchill's advisor

Churchill’s Under-Secretary of State for War © NTPL/National Trust Images

Churchill’s Under-Secretary of State for War

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.

If trees could talk...

On the west side of the estate stands a triple avenue of Spanish chestnut trees. The trees are said to have been grown from the nuts that came from the shipwrecks of the First Spanish Armada in 1588.

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.

Families at Croft

It’s cocktail hour inside the Saloon

When Croft Castle was put up for sale in 1746 it was snapped up by the multimillionaire, Richard Knight. The property was resold in 1795 to the Davies family who remained at Croft until 1923.

A Royal Gift

A trip down memory lane © Phoebe Lording

A trip down memory lane

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 One who lost it all... © NTPL/National Trust Images

The One who lost it all...

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

Grub’s up!  © NTPL/Phoebe Lording

Grub’s up!

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

The joys of childhood romance © NTPL/Ana Vaughan

The joys of childhood romance

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

run awayyyyyy!  © Phoebe Lording

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

Roar!!  © Phoebe Lording

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

A Bookworm’s delight © Phoebe Lording

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.

Visit us

With 1000 years of history, these are just a few of the thrilling stories Croft has to tell. Visit and be amazed at what you uncover in this paradise, hidden in the Herefordshire countryside.

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