Beeston Castle, Cheshire, England

by Veronica

This week we had a family day out to the ruins of Beeston Castle, West Cheshire, close to England's border with Wales. Delightful.

Information from English Heritage handbook

What a defensive position! Beeston Castle stands high up a hill on a prominent crag overlooking a flat area of Cheshire land, the Cheshire Plain. It consists of an outer wall with a gate house and an inner wall and castle.

It was built by Norman Lord Ranulf de Blondeville ( B 1170 - 1232 ) in the 13th Century. It has a deep rock cut ditch, one of the deepest wells in the country and views which spread far away over to Wales.

Archaeologists have found evidence of a fortification on this site since prehistoric times and evidence suggests there was metal working here during the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Ranulf built the castle in the 1220s, the castle passed to the king in 1240s. Despite being in disrepair it was refortified during the English Civil War and demolished as a Royalist castle when the English King Charles was beheaded. England became a "republic" and the monarchy abolished. Beeston became a quaint popular ruin popular with visitors in Victorian times.

Photos

All photos shown here are my own and taken by me.

Beeston Castle

castle view
castle view

The Castle on the craggy rock above the flat landscape

the ruins of Beeston Castle
the ruins of Beeston Castle

Beeston Castle near Chester, Cheshire

Beeston Castle stands at the top of a steep hill which in itself makes it a great defensive position from attacking enemies. The woods around it help too and the view from the top is so clear that any approaching armies would be seen whilst till a long way off.

 

The walk up to the top was quite steep. The woods are themselves hilly.  

the wooded walk on the way up the hill
the wooded walk on the way up the hill

Outer gatehouse

On the way up you see in the picture below are the ruins of the outer gatehouse. The tall tower was a later addition to the original structure.

Beneath this gatehouse, archaeologists have found the remains of prehistoric fortress entrance. This suggests that the Normans made use of an existing site as they had done in other areas of England. e.g.Colchester castle.

outer walls of the ruined castle
outer walls of the ruined castle

The inner ditch and ramp

At the end of the climb up the hill, a deep ditch separates the inner part of the castle from the outer part. It is entirely man made and dates from the building of the original castle. Stone quarried from this ditch was used in the building of the castle. Originally the ditch was crossed by a wooden bridge which was rebuilt several times out of wood.

 

The very steep bridge in the picture was built in 1975 and takes some climbing up!

the 1975 bridge over the steep ditch
the 1975 bridge over the steep ditch

Just to the left in this picture is the South west Tower and to the right is the Inner Ward Curtain Wall.

the wider view
the wider view

Hidden treasure ?

The deepest well

The castle's inhabitants got their  fresh water two wells were dug down into the hillside though the rock,, This one is  370 feet  deep and is one of England's deepest castle wells.

There have been legends for hundreds of years that King Richard 11, on his way to fight in Ireland, hid his gold and treasure at Beeston Castle before his voyage. They are believed to be hidden in this well. They have never been found despite numerous searches.

.

the well
the well

Norman archways

Archways such as these are characteristic of Norman architecture. These are beautifully preserved despite being part of a ruined castle.

Norman archways
Norman archways

South West Tower

This is the entrance to the South West Tower. It was so dark inside that my photos were unclear. This showed though how dark castle life must have been for the inhabitants.  

castle ruins
castle ruins

The Cheshire landscape

These photos show how clearly any invading force would be seen by the look-outs at the top of the castle.

The view of Cheshire from the top
The view of Cheshire from the top
over towards Wales
over towards Wales

And... my favourite photo

My menfolk
My menfolk
Looking out over the Cheshire Plain
Updated: 09/15/2016, Veronica
 
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Veronica on 04/22/2017

Yes indeed and of course.... Castles as we know them only came in with The Normans too.

frankbeswick on 04/22/2017

You raise the point of land ownership in Britain. The rule that all land is owned by the crown came in with the Normans.

frankbeswick on 04/22/2017

One fact that indicates that the wall is one of the castle walls is that it uses mortar.If it were a farm wall dividing fields it would be drystone, which means that it uses no mortar.In many parts of upland Britain drystone walls are used in place of fences. Castles needed mortared walls as drystone structures are easier to knock down than mortared walls are.

Drystone construction is not weak, for there are places in Northern Britain where there are houses made of it, and they have lasted centuries

Veronica on 04/21/2017

My menfolk in the photo from left to right.

Left ;- My oldest son,...... his-nephew/ my grandson, ...... my husband, ..... my youngest son - grandson's daddy.

The companionship, peace and trust in this photo are heart warming.

Veronica on 04/21/2017

Derdriu

The wall in front of my menfolk is old and part of the wall of one of the buildings. I thought what a good vantage point to build a castle with a great view of any attackers advancing. The climb up to the top would be off putting too for any would-be attackers. The fact that although ruined, it still stands is a tribute to the builders who would have had to carry all the stone up the hill and then build it.

The kings at this time were able to take anyone's lands. In fact, our Queen officially also the "right " to take any land she chooses ... but of course, she doesn't. I don't know why it moved into Crown ownership.

DerdriuMarriner on 04/21/2017

Veronica, Thank you again for the lovely walk through Beeston Castle and environs. Did one of Ranulf de Blondeville's heirs fall out of favor, or miss a tax payment, so that his properties ended up in royal hands?
I understand why your favorite photo is your preferred one because, the emotion apart, it shows the appeal of the land -- Richard Harris says in The Field that one stands best on one's own land -- and the timelessness of really good architecture and construction.
Is the stone fence in front of your menfolk new or old? Either way, it's photogenic and well-made.

Veronica on 09/15/2016

Ty. This one is a little different as it is a ruin ! It is interesting that there was an inner and outer keep and as a defensive position, situated on a crag on the Cheshire /Welsh border it is an act of genius.

My son and family went to Peverill Castle, Derbyshire yesterday and I am hoping to visit soon.

blackspanielgallery on 09/14/2016

I always enjoy images and stories about castles. Nice images as usual/

Veronica on 09/10/2016

Thank you Dusty. It was marvellous. I always think of the people who have walked this way before us and what their lives were like.

This weekend in England is Heritage Day and many of the History Attractions are free. We have just returned home from a splendid day at a one of the History attractions.

dustytoes on 09/10/2016

What a great place to explore and take photos. Yours are excellent. I'd love to visit this place myself. A steep walk almost always guarantees a beautiful view - so worth it!

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