Ellesmere Town Defences

Has been described as a Questionable Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameEllesmere Town Defences
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishEllesmere Urban

In 1258 Peter de Montfort was empowered to raise money to enable him to wall the town of Ellesmere (Eyton 1860, 240). At present there is no documentary or archaeological evidence that the defences were built. If they were in fact constructed, their location and the date at which they went out of use remains to be demonstrated. It has been suggested that in the mid-13th century Ellesmere was restricted to an area to the west of the church and that Watergate Street represents the line of the town defences (Anon 1957-60, 3). The town was quite small at this time, with only 59 burgages recorded in 1280 (Sylvester 1969, 310), but even so this seems too large a settlement to have been protected by defences on the high ground above Watergate Street and Birch Road. For the purposes of this assessment a defensive circuit following Church Street, Willow Street, and running behind St John's Street, is suggested. This is provisional, based on topographical and cartographic evidence, and should be tested archaeologically. (Dalwood and Bryant 2005)

Gatehouse Comments

A single grant of murage, for 5 years, in a relatively small market town, is unlikely to have raised sufficient money for a building programme, although funding for such a project did not have to raised from murage alone. At best the grant may suggest an intent to build walls, although probably for their prestigious quality rather than any defensive reason. At worst Montfort was increasing his income from the town market by a manipulative play on people's fears. Map reference for parish church which should have been within any intended circuit.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ402348
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 64
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 266
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 42 (mention)
  • Sylvester, D., 1969, The rural landscape of the Welsh Borderland: a study in historical geography (Macmillian)
  • Eyton, R.W., 1860, Antiquities of Shropshire (London: John Russell Smith) Vol. 10 p. 240 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1908, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1247-58) Vol. 4 p. 640 online copy
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/murindex.html], [petitions > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/mupindex.html ] and [other such > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/muaindex.html]. < >


  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • Buteux, V., 1993-96, CMHTS SMR Records Shropshire: Ellesmere and High Ercall, Ellesmere 5297