Skip to content

The history of Croft Castle

The East, or Entrance, front of Croft Castle, Herefordshire
The entrance to Croft Castle | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

The Croft family have been key players and confidantes to England's leaders since 1055. From Edward the Confessor to Winston Churchill, find out how the family played their part in major historical events, and how Croft Castle was eventually passed to the National Trust.

A different fate

In 1957, the National Trust acquired Croft Castle and 1,500 acres of parkland. But Croft's future could have been very different.

The 1950s was a precarious decade for the owners of historic country estates. Crippling death duties and the increasing cost of upkeep meant that many were sold or pulled down. Seventeen were demolished in Herefordshire during the 20th century, including Garnstone near Weobley, Eywood at Titley and Foxley at Mansell Lacy. Croft could easily have been the eighteenth.

In 1957, an insurance company wanted to buy the land at Croft, without the castle, and had marked all of the trees along the entrance drive with crosses for felling. The family were adamant that Croft would escape the fate of other country estates and began negotiations with the National Trust.

The Croft family approached negotiations with energy and enterprise and it soon became clear that the castle and parkland could be saved. The Trust made it clear that they wanted to see the castle preserved as a living country house and this is very much the same atmosphere visitors will encounter today. The Croft family still occupy apartments in the castle, which is why you won't be able to see all of the rooms.


It is thought that there were 500 visitors to Croft in 1957. During 2019, this number exceeded 100,000. £1,900 per year was needed back then to cover the running costs of the castle, employing a caretaker and two estate men to look after the grounds.

This is a dramatically smaller team than the one that lives and works at Croft today. Everyone who visits, buys a cup of tea, donates and supports us, helps to conserve Croft for future generations.

A brief history


Back to the Domesday book

The Croft estate was founded by a Norman knight, Bernard de Croft and was first recorded in the Domesday book in 1085. 

Autumn exterior of Croft Castle, Herefordshire
Autumn exterior of Croft Castle | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Oral history of Croft Castle

These recorded interviews from people who lived and worked at Croft during the twentieth-century tell personal stories from the era. These form a permanent record of Croft’s history and, in conjunction with the British Library, are collated and held for the nation.

Hazel Landreth - Second World War school days

In 1941 at ten years old, Hazel Landreth was evacuated from the bombing of Birmingham during the Second World War to Croft Castle. Croft was requisitioned to be a boarding school during the war. She was a pupil from 1941 to 1945. Listen to an extract of her Oral History recording below.
Listen to Hazel's story

Caroline Compton - Memories of Croft Castle

After the Second World War, Croft was about to be sold. As a young girl of 17, Caroline Compton witnessed her parents save the estate, negotiating its transfer to the National Trust in 1957. The Hon. Diana Uhlman, her mother, transformed the walled garden and forecourt garden over the years, with Caroline's enduring help.
Listen to Caroline's story

Rob Russell and Mary Monroe - The Gardener's Children

During 1950-57, Mr Russell, the gardener, lived at Croft - these are some of the memories of his children, Rob and Mary, of their life at Croft, the household and the owners at the time.
Listen to Robe and Mary's story

Family holding hands approach the gatehouse at Croft Castle, Herefordshire.

Discover more at Croft Castle and Parkland

Find out when Croft Castle is open, how to get here, things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

A view of the outside of Croft Castle and the church

The castle at Croft Castle 

Croft Castle was noted in the Domesday book in 1086 and the Croft family have played a part influencing British political and military history ever since. Uncover their stories in the castle.

The Blue Room at Croft Castle, Herefordshire

Portrait of Elizabeth Croft at Croft Castle 

Discover more about an oil painting by John Constable of Elizabeth Lewis, the second wife of Rev. Sir Herbert Croft, 5th Baronet and how it came to be at Croft Castle.

A man and child playing the piano at Croft Castle, Herefordshire

Our work in the castle at Croft 

Discover the conservation work preserving the historic castle at Croft.

Ancient trees on the walk up to Croft Ambre Croft Castle, Herefordshire.

Our work in the parkland at Croft Castle 

Vital work is ongoing to conserve Croft’s historic parkland for future generations.

Overhead view of an octagonal table with the figure of Silenus, a drunken follower of Bacchu, in The Library at Claydon House in Buckinghamshire


Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.

Octavia Hill (1838 - 1912) (after John Singer Sargent) by Reginald Grenville Eves, RA (London 1876 ¿ Middleton in Teesdale 1941)


From landscape gardeners to LGBTQ+ campaigners and suffragettes to famous writers, many people have had their impact on the places we care for. Discover their stories and the lasting legacies they’ve left behind.