Liverpool Stanley Tower

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Town House

There are no visible remains

NameLiverpool Stanley Tower
Alternative NamesThe Tower; Lyverpole
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityLiverpool
1974 AuthorityMerseyside
Civil ParishLiverpool

Site of a medieval fortified house, used as a gaol until 1811 and demolished in 1819. A mill and later an office block were built on the site. "The Tower" was a remnant of a medieval house which served during the 18th century as the borough gaol. The earliest reference to the house is in 1406 when Sir John Stanley was granted a licence to crenellate. However, by the middle of the 18th century its remains were in use as the borough gaol. In 1737 the corporation took a 99 year lease on part of the house, and brought gates and grills from the earlier prison to make the house secure. On 25th October 1754 the corporation passed an order to repair the roof following a survey. In 1775 they purchased the freehold of the building. The prison was improved in 1782. "The Tower" remained in use until at least 1811. This was due to the new borough gaol having been appropriated in the 1790s to hold French prisoners of war. "The Tower" was demolished in 1819. (PastScape)

One building that we do have a good idea of the form of, although it too is now lost, was Stanley Tower in Liverpool. This is depicted in an etching by the Buck brothers as a large building, with a crenellated tower of only two storeys, on the water front aside the main road down to the landing beach. This was built around 1406 by John Stanley, steward of the king's household and Garter Knight under a royal licence. John Stanley had been made lord of the Isle of Man in 1405 suggesting the tower may have been built to service this lordship. It is unlikely Stanley intended to visit Man personally very often, although a residence where he could wait for weather and tide would have been useful, but some of the taxes in money and goods from Man would have been shipped to England and a strong warehouse for the storage of these before trans-shipment to Stanley's prime residences or to market would be useful (Irish and Scottish pirates may have been a specific threat to these goods)

The excesses of the crenellated architectural style was, however, probably more to do with expressing Stanley's status to the Molyneux's, who were the tenurial holders of Liverpool based in the nearby 13th century castle, and to travellers to and from Man using Liverpool as a ferry port (There may have been a small permanent Manx community in Liverpool as well). Rick Turner has also suggested a connection with the Mersey ferry. Although it may be questioned if such a grand house would be worth the effort and expense for a relatively insignificant Mersey ferry per se once there it could supervise that ferry and service its tolls. The strength of the building can be judged from its later, 18th century, use as a gaol. It was demolished in 1819. (Davis 2010)

Gatehouse Comments

Illustrations of the tower before its demolition do exist. A mill and now an office block have been built on the site. Reputed to have been connected to Liverpool castle by a tunnel although the tenurial histories of these two building would make such a connection most unlikely and this is a very common, usually entirely false, myth associated with many historic sites.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ339904
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  • Stewart-Brown, 1910, The Tower of Liverpool (Liverpool)
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  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 421 online copy
  • Gregson, 1824, Portfolio of Fragments Relative to the History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Lancaster (Liverpool) plate facing p. 172


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 268
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  • Davis, Philip, 2010-11, 'Crenellated town houses in Medieval England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 24 p. 270-91
  • Stewart-Brown, R., 1909, 'The Tower of Liverpool' Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire Vol. 61 p. 41-82 online copy
  • Fishwick, H., 1901, 'The Old Castles of Lancashire.' Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society Vol. 19 p. 63 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1907, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry IV (1405-08) Vol. 3 p. 207 online copy