Whitchurch Castle Hill

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are no visible remains

NameWhitchurch Castle Hill
Alternative NamesAlbum Monasterium; Blancminster; Blanc Mouster; Blancmustier; Weston
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishWhitchurch Urban

The castle at Whitchurch was founded by 1199 and is mentioned again in 1240 and 1260. Part of the curtain wall was still standing in 1760. There are, however, no extant remains. (PastScape)

Castle at Whitchurch mentioned in 1199 when clearly already in existence. Also 1240, 1260 (Eyton1887; Eyton 1859)

Possible remains of motte? at SJ54134149

Part of the wall of the Castle of Whitchurch was standing in 1760, on the Castle Hill, on the side next the mill, just above the brook that that now runs under what is called the Lock-up-house (Nightingale 1813)

First century Roman fort ditch (see SA 909) recut in late medieval period, C14, possibly part of castle defences. (SJ54084151) (Griffiths 1978)

A ditch excavated in 1993 at SJ54124148, (adjacent to the coalyard referred to above) and put on the SMR as SA 4623, was thought by the excavators (Giffords) to be likely to be the ditch of the castle. Giffords produced a summary of all the evidence to date for the existence and site of the castle. This included a recently discovered C19 drawing of a three storey stone building, probably a gatehouse, and labelled as Whitchurch Castle. (Gifford 1992)

In March 1994 Giffords carried out an evaluation of land at c SJ5402 4153, on the plot of land marked on C20 OS maps as the site of the castle. The two trenches excavated at the top end of this plot, adjoining Newtown, identified features interpreted only as post medieval building features and deposits, plus a WWII air raid shelter

Nothing relating to earlier periods was found, although the sandstone used in one of the post-medieval building foundations may have been re-used from and earlier structure such as the Roman fortress or the Medieval castle (Gifford 1994)

The following documentary references are noted: 1166 AD; 1165, 1172 and 1188 AD - payments to sergeants, watchmen and porters at Whitchurch; 1384 AD - accounts referring to the repair of the castle; 1538 AD - John Leland saw the castle 'apon a broket' (brook). The castle may have originally been earth and timber but by 1384 it seems to have been rebuilt in stone (James 1990)

CMHTS Comment: A castle is known to have existed at Whitchurch from documentary references. The location of the castle has been assumed to be in the Newtown/ Castle Hill area for the following reasons: ->

i) The reference in Nightingale in 1813. The mill referred to has been taken to be that on Mill Street. A mill was situated behind Newton in the C18th and possibly at Sherry Mill Hill - this would place the stonework either on Newtown or on Shery Mill Hill. The brook is the mill stream ->

ii) The 1880 OS map marks the site of the castle in Newtown. It is not clear why this is, but if the mill was that at Park Avenue then it could be because of standing masonry in this area ->

iii) An OS correspondent, J R Whitfield, in 1976 identified the remains of a motte at SJ54134149. There is no evidence of a motte in this area, however, and this may be a mistake (other remains recorded by the same correspondent are also in some doubt) ->

iv) The location of a 'castle ditch on Castle Hill' ->

-> It would appear, however, that the castle was not at this location, but at Sherrymill Hill to the NW of the town. This is because: ->

i) The castle was being repaired in 1384, and therefore must still have been a substantial structure. The area of burgage plots at Newtown was laid out by 1400, however, and it is impossible that the castle and burgage plots could have existed at the same time in the same place ->

ii) The 'castle ditch' discovered

iv) Earthworks observed on Sherry Mill Hill could be a windmill mound or a castle motte and ditch. The mound could in fact have been both a motte and later a windmill mound as occurred at Wem ->

v) During the C16th, when pressure for land increased in the town due to population growth, the courts record a spate of cases when people in the town asked for a jury to be set up to determine the boundaries of their properties. One of these was the case of John Roden, who in 1586 held a place called 'the Castle' which had no definite boundaries and no sure way to it. Eventually the court determined its limits and laid down a way to it two yards wide through Thomas Humphreson's burgage. This description of land called 'the Castle' does not fit any area of Newtown/ Castle Hill, which had medieval burgages and access routes. It fits much better the area of Sherrymill Hill, which was cut off from its access from Yardington by the development of burgage plots to the NW of the street ->

->The exact limits of the castle are not known and the area has been very badly damaged by housing development. The boundaries of this component are intended to include rather than define the castle (Buteux 1993/6)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ543415
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 176-8
  • Jackson, M.J.,1988, Castles of Shropshire (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Libraries) p. 62
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 434 (Whitchurch No. 1)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 317
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 344
  • Duggan, T.C., 1935, History of Whitchurch p. 39-40
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 134
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 160 online copy
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 10 p. 14- (tenurial history) p. 18, 20-21 (historic mentions of castle) online copy
  • Nightingale, J., 1813, Beauties of England and Wales Vol. 13 p. 283 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 396-7
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 13 online copy


  • James, R.B., 1990, 'Notes on the History of Whitchurch' Whitchurch Area Archaeological Group Newsletter No 43 p. 6-7
  • Griffiths, R.W., 1979, 'Primary report on the excavation at Castle Hill, Whitchurch - April 1979' Shropshire News Sheet Vol. 10 p. 5-7
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132 (survived into C13 without being rebuilt in stone)
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1963, 'Early castles in Wales and the Marches: a preliminary list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 112 p. 77-124
  • 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)
  • 1895, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society p. 61
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 211 online copy
  • Eyton, R.W., 1887, 'The castles of Shropshire' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 10 p. 27-8

Primary Sources

  • The Great Roll of the pipe for the first year of the reign of King John, Michaelmas 1199 (Pipe Roll Society 48)
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 436 online copy
  • 1836, Excerpta e Rotulis Finium ... Henrico tertio rege, A.D. 1216-1272 (Record Commission) Vol. 2 p. 450 (1246)


  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • Buteux, V. et al, 1996, Archaeological Assessment of Whitchurch, Shropshire (CMHTS)
  • Gifford and Partners Ltd., 1994, Archaeological Evaluation of Land at Newtown, Whitchurch. (Gifford and Partners Rep. 6666.02.)
  • Thompson, A., 1993, Archaeological Excavation at Castle Hill, Whitchurch, Shropshire. (Gifford and Partners Rep. Rep 6153.01/2.)
  • Gifford and Partners Ltd., 1992, Archaeological Evaluation at Castle Hill, Whitchurch, Shropshire. (Gifford and Partners Rep.)
  • Griffiths, R., 1978, Evaluation Trench for Whitchurch Area Archaeol Gp, 24/08/1978.