Manchester Castle

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Other/Unknown Ringwork), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle, and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameManchester Castle
Alternative NamesMamecestre; Mainecestr'; Chetham College
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityManchester
1974 AuthorityGreater Manchester
Civil ParishManchester

A naturally defensible bluff at the confluence of the Rivers Irk and Irwell was the site of the manor house of the Greley family by the 13th century, and probably also of their castle, documented in 1184. Three concentric ditches encircling the promontory have been identified, two of them relating to the line of Long Millgate and Hanging Ditch, close to the present cathedral, and one running through the yard of Chetham's School and Library. The origins and exact course of each are open to conjecture, although it has been suggested that they may relate to the Norman castle, or possibly even the Saxon burh. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The manor house of Manchester was the at site now occupied by Chetham Hospital, just North of the church (now Cathedral). This was a naturally defensible situation on a sandstone outcrop at the confluence of the Rivers Irwell and Irk, this would appear to be the most likely situation for the castle mentioned in 1184-7, when in the custody of Robert de Burun, and 1215-16, when held by Robert Gresle. It is not impossible that by the late C12 the castle was of masonry, although there is no masonry of that date on the site. However the site is quite small and can not have been a major building. There is nothing to suggest a motte at the site. There may have been the embankment of a ringwork, at least on the southern side otherwise the site may have defined by a ditch and the natural scarps. The successor manor house on the site is usually described as fortified, and the natural features and ditch would have made it defensible. This house was given to the church in the C15 as a residence for priests for the collegiate church. There are Castlefield place-names in Manchester but these are somewhat south of above site and refer to Roman remains rather than the medieval castle.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ839988
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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 101
  • Grimsditch, Brian, Nevell, Michael and Nevell, Richard, 2012, Buckton Castle and the Castles of the North West England (University of Salford Archaeological Monograph 2) p. 110
  • Hylton, Stuart, 2003, A History of Manchester (Philimore) p. 13
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 36
  • Hartwell, Clare, 2001, Buildings of England: Manchester (Penguin) p. 5
  • Kidd, Alan, 1996, Manchester (Keele: Keele University Press) p. 13-14
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 249
  • Holdsworth, Philip, 1983, 'The Castle' in Morris, Michael, The Archaeology of Greater Manchester Vol. 1: Medieval Manchester (Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit) p. 36-7
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 239
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Tait, J., 1904, Medieval Manchester and the Beginnings of Lancashire (Manchester: University of Manchester History Series 1) p. 138
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 200 online copy
  • Taylor, H., 1884, Old Halls of Lancashire and Cheshire p. 31-46 online copy


  • Norman Redhead, 2016 Sept, 'Manchester's 'lost' medieval castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin No. 22 p. 6 online copy
  • Newman, Caron, 2006, 'Medieval Period Resource Assessment' Archaeology North West Vol. 8 p. 141
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)

Primary Sources

  • 1913, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the thirty-first year of the reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1184-1185 (Pipe Roll Society Publications 34) p. 11 online copy
  • 1914, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the thirty-second year of the reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1185-1186 (Pipe Roll Society Publications 36)
  • 1915, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the thirty-third year of the reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1186-1187 (Pipe Roll Society Publications 37) p. 24 online copy
  • Holt, J.C. (ed.), 1964, Pipe Roll 17 John, edited by R.A. Brown , and Praestita Roll 14-18 John, Roll of Summonses 1214, Scutage Roll 16 John (Pipe Roll Society Publications 75)
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli Litterarum Patentium in Turri Londinensi Asservati (1201-16) (Record Commission) p. 165 view online copy


  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online