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Moccas Castle

HER no. 1558, OS grid ref: SO 3480 4250

Moccas is a parish in the north-west of Herefordshire, not far from Bredwardine. The castle site itself is only 2.5km south-east of the castle at Bredwardine, and just to the east of Moccas Deer Park.

Moccas Castle consists of a roughly oval court enclosed by the remains of a ditch and subsidiary scarp. At the eastern end of the site is a very small motte (4m x 3m x 4m) with a ditch between it and the bailey. The area has been considerably ploughed out, leaving very few remains. The small size of the motte means that it appears unlikely to have supported a masonry structure.

The motte was formed by the scarping of a natural mound which was then surrounded by a ditch, which may have once been wet but is now just swampy. According to the Reverend C.J. Robinson (Herefordshire Castles and Their Lords, undated, p.108) the "foundations have long formed a quarry for road metal".

The later residences of the lords of Moccas stood nearer to the river.

History of the site

1291: Hugh de Frene was granted a charter of freewarren and, in 1294, a licence to crenellate. However, one condition of the licence was that the wall should not have towers or turrets and should be no more than 10 foot in height below the battlements. It seems that Hugh de Frene did not obey these stipulations - or that he had already begun the fortifications before being granted permission - for on 4th April 1294 he was summoned to appear and show cause why he had erected a castle or fortified house without the king's licence. The Sheriff of Hereford was ordered to seize it on behalf of the king, but the dispute was most probably settled with a fine as the de Frenes continued in possession for many years.

1337: Another Hugh de Frene had summons to Parliament as a baron of the realm, but only for one year. It is thought that this is the Hugh de Frene who married the daughter of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. Through this marriage Hugh became Earl of Lincoln.

1375: The de Frenes held Moccas until this date. On the death of Richard Frene in this year the site passed to his aunt, Alice, sister of Richard's father. She was married to Roger Cricketot, who took possession of the castle.

Moccas Castle later passed into the hands of the Vaughan family. It left this family through the marriage of Henry Vaughan of Moccas to one of the daughters of Sir Walter Pye in 1635. After Henry Vaughan died his wife found a second husband, a man who had been imprisoned for poaching in Moccas Deer Park. It is said that she was so taken with the man's appearance that she not only forgave his offences but also agreed to marry him. He turned out to be Edward Cornewall, a cadet (younger son) of the Cornewall family of Berrington. On his mother's death the Vaughan estates, including Moccas, passed to him. (Rev. C.J. Robinson, p. 107)