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 Castles of England - Beeston Castle

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Beeston, Cheshire, England

Beeston Castle is located in Beeston, Cheshire, England. The castle is positioned on a rocky crag above the Cheshire Plain with views to the Pennines in the east to the Welsh mountains in the west. Beeston was defended by its natural position on a crag, and by massive walls with towers and strong gate houses. There was a small inner courtyard with fortified wall on top of the hill with cliffs on three sides and a defensive ditch cut into the rock on the fourth side. The outer bailey was built further down the hill with a large gatehouse protected by a moat. The walls of the outer bailey contain a number of D-shaped towers which allowed defenders to fire across the walls as well as forwards. The castle is now owned by English Heritage and is open to visitors. It has a small museum and visitor centre. It is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Beeston Castle was built in the 1220s by Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester, on his return from the Fifth Crusade. (Ranulph de Blondeville also built Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire.)

Henry III enlarged Beeston Castle during his wars with Wales. In 1254 Henry gave Beeston to his son Prince Edward. By the 16th century, the castle was declining in importance to the English Crown, and in 1602 it was sold to Sir Hugh Beeston. During the English Civil War, Beeston was seized in 1643 by parliamentary forces. During 1643 Captain Thomas Sandford and eight soldiers of the royal army of Ireland crept into Beeston at night and surprised the castle governor, Captain Thomas Steele, who surrendered the castle. (Steele was later tried and shot for failing to hold the castle). The Royalists holding the castle were subsequently besieged by parliamentary forces in late 1644, and surrendered a year later. The castle was partially demolished in 1646, to prevent its further use as a stronghold.

During the 18th century the castle was used as a quarry and the gatehouse in the outer bailey was demolished. In 1840, the castle was purchased by John Tollemache, 1st Baron Tollemache.

It is rumoured that Richard II hid treasure at Beeston in 1399, before leaving for Ireland to suppress a rebellion. On his return, Richard was deposed by Henry, Duke of Lancaster, who later became Henry IV. The treasure is said to have remained undiscovered despite many searches.

Other Castles in the Area
  Caergwrle Castle, Flintshire
  Chirk Castle, Denbighshire
  Ewloe Castle, Flintshire
  Hawarden Castle(new), Flintshire
  Hawarden Castle(old), Flintshire
  Holt Castle, Denbighshire

Holt Castle
Beeston castle: gateway

Photograph by Stephen Craven. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Holt Castle
Beeston Castle Lodge House

Photograph by Jeff Buck. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Holt Castle
The castle well, over 100 metres deep and one of the deepest in any English castle.

Photograph by Jeff Buck. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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