VISITORS have been evacuated from a Herefordshire castle this afternoon after a fire alarm was set off.

The fire service were seen outside the National Trust's Croft Castle, near Leominster today (October 12).

Visitor Colin Reeve, 61, on holiday from Suffolk with his wife, 63-year-old Julie, was among the 35 or so visitors, builders and staff evacuated. 

"It was all handled very efficiently and the brigade were onsite within a few minutes," Mr Reeve said.

"We saw no sign of fire or smoke."

Mr Reeve said he understood the alarm to have been triggered by a sensor in the loft.

A fire service spokesperson said: "HWFRS were called to the site at noon to a fire alarm going off, but it turned out to be a false alarm."

The castle has a long history, with the first Bernard de Croft of Croft Castle noted in the Domesday book in 1086.

Sir Richard Croft fought with his Croft army during the Wars of the Roses alongside Edward Mortimer in 1461 at the ‘Battle of Mortimer’s Cross’, and the Tudor Sir James Croft was imprisoned in the Tower of London during the 'Wyatt rebellion' and tortured for refusing to betray Elizabeth I.

The Crofts lost the home in 1746, buying it back 177 years later, while in the Second World War, the castle became a school for evacuees.

In 1956 it was secured for the nation by the National Trust.