Chester Castle

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameChester Castle
Alternative NamesAgricola tower; Cestre
Historic CountryCheshire
Modern AuthorityCheshire
1974 AuthorityCheshire
Civil ParishChester Castle

Agricola tower is the only feature of Castle which survived the destruction of the medieval castle by fire in late C18. Castle was originally an earthwork fortress of motte and bailey type built in 1070 by William I. The wooden tower was replaced by a stone tower in C12. The perimeter was walled in stone in late C12. Lower bailey was added in C13. New gates with drum towers were added to the inner bailey in C13 when the gate through Agricola tower was walled up. The outer bailey was walled with stone 1247-51, a new castle chamber added in 1246-7, and the Great Hall built 1250-3. The outer gatehouse was built 1292-3.Castle served as the administrative centre of the Earldom throughout the Mediaeval period. Castle was replaced after C18 fire by the buildings of the Shire Hall circa 1811. The curtain walls are listed Grade I and II. Part of the castle is scheduled. (PastScape)

Although built by William I, except during minorities or once when forfeited to the Crown in 1174, the castle was a possession of the Earls of Chester. However, with the death of the last Earl in 1237, it permanently passed to the Crown. It was extensively renovated in 1246-51 during Henry III's Welsh Wars. (HKW Vol. 2) The Earldom of Chester remained a royal patrimony throughout the Mediaeval period, and the castle at Chester remained a centre of judicial activity. Expenditure on the castle was mainly in the form of maintenance, and usually inadequate at that. The only new construction between 1485 and 1649 was the Prince's Hall to provide accommodation for the shire court. Although never wholly neglected, the sums spent on the fabric of the castle were comparatively small. (HKW Vol. 3)

Gatehouse Comments

The original earthwork here is regarded by King and Alcock as possibly a ringwork. Although rebuilt many times the castle retains many of the multiple functions of the medieval castle. Until recent times it was the centre of county administration (although County Hall is now part of the University of Chester), it is still the site of the county court, the military still have some presence in the form of the Cheshire Military Museum and the castle remains a centre for high status events, such as royal visits.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceSJ404657
Latitude53.1854286193848
Longitude-2.89279007911682
Eastings340480
Northings365730
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • 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. 100-101
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 60, 187, 343
  • Jones, Phillip, 2009, In Search of Chester's Medieval Castle (Privately published) online infomation
  • Ward, S., 2009, Chester: a history (Chichester: Phillimore)
  • Lewis, C.P. and Thacker, A.T. (eds), 2005, VCH Cheshire Vol. 5 Part 2 p. 204-13 online transcription
  • Lewis, C.P. and Thacker, A.T. (eds), 2003, VCH Cheshire Vol. 5 Part 1 online transcription
  • Ward, Simon, 2002, 'Chester Castle' in Yates, Sarah (ed), Heritage Unlocked; Guide to free sites in the North West (London: English Heritage) p. 8-9
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Lancashire and Cheshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 13-15
  • Cather, S., Park, D. and Pender, R., 1999, 'Henry III's wall paintings at Chester Castle' in Chester: Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology (British Archaeological Association conference transaction 22) p. 170-89
  • Ellis, P. et al, 1996, Excavations at Chester, Chester Castle (Chester Archaeology Excavation Survey Report No. 10)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 14-16
  • Carrington, P., 1994, English Heritage Book of Chester (London: English Heritage/Batsford)
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
  • Cullen, P.W. and Hordern, R., 1986, Castles of Cheshire (Crossbow Books) p. 12-16
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 67
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 207
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 3: 1485-1660 (part 1) p. 169-71
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Edward Hubbard, 1971, Buildings of England: Cheshire (Harmondsworth)
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 607-612
  • Ridgway, Maurice Hill, 1958, 'Medieval Castles' in Sylvester, D. and Nulty, G. (eds), The Historical Atlas of Cheshire (Cheshire Community Council) p. 24-5
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 126-8 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Barber, 1910, in Barber and Ditchfield, Memories of Old Cheshire (London) p. 57-60 (slight)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 167-9 online copy
  • Ormerod, G., 1882 (2edn), History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 1 p. 358-62
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 119-123 online copy
  • Ormerod, G., 1819, History of the County Palatine and city of Chester (London) Vol. 1 p. 158, 282-85 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1808-22, Magna Britannia Vol. 2 p. 569-70
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 17
  • Grose, Francis, 1783 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 1 p. 33-6 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 55
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 24 online copy
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Nevell, Richard, 2012-13, 'Castle gatehouses in North West England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 26 p. 258-81 online copy
  • Speight, Sarah, 2004, ''Religion in the Bailey: Charters, Chapels and the Clergy' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 271-80
  • Kenyon, John R., 1996, 'Fluctuating Frontiers: Normanno-Welsh Castle Warfare c. 1075 to 1240' Château Gaillard Vol. 17 p. 119-126
  • Harfield, C.G., 1991, 'A Hand-list of Castles Recorded in the Domesday Book' English Historical Review Vol. 106 p. 371-392 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 308
  • Hough, P.R., 1982, 'Chester Castle' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 8 p. 45-6
  • Strickland, T.J. and Rutter, J.A., 1980-81, 'The castle: colonnade and archway' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 7 p. 39-40
  • Strickland, T.J. and Rutter, J.A., 1980-81, 'The castle chapel' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin Vol. 7 p. 40-1
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1977, 'Medieval Britain in 1976' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 243 download copy
  • 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
  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Château Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • 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)
  • (Thompson), 1957, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 156 download copy
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
  • Thompson, Hamilton, 1937, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 94 p. 310-11 online copy
  • Simpson, Frank, 1925, 'Chester Castle AD 907-1925' Journal of the Archaeological, Archaeological and Historic Society, Chester and North Wales (new ser) Vol. 26 Part 2 p. 71-132
  • 1910, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 65 p. 217-8
  • Cox, E.W., 1895, Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society Vol. 5 Part 2-3 p. 239-76
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 201 online copy

Primary Sources

  • le Prevost, A. (ed), 1840, Orderici Vitalis, Historiae Ecclesiaticae Vol. 2 p. 199 online copy
  • Christie, R.C. (ed), 1887, Annales Cestrienses: Chronicle of the Abbey of S. Werburg, at Chester p. 95 online copy
  • 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
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 136-7
  • E178/6160 (Survey of 14 Charles II) The National Archives reference
  • SC12/22/96 (Survey of 11 Edward III) The National Archives reference
  • SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference

Other

  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
  • Donald Install Associates, 2001, Conservation plan, Chester Castle, for English Heritage