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Beeston Castle

Visited August 2018

Location Beeston, Cheshire
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No 
Parking Yes
Facilities Cafe, Gift Shop, Toilets
Map

 

The climb up to this castle is steep, but your perseverance is well and truly rewarded at the top. The impressive gatehouse to the inner ward is probably the most well known part of the castle, featuring as it does on most of the publicity and pictures of the castle. We have ourselves chosen it to be the first picture on this page!

 


 

 


Review

 

The castle was built in the 13th century, high up on a rocky crag which had already been used by Bronze Age tribes as a hill fort. They built ramparts which were later incorporated into the castle defences. Ranulf, the sixth Earl of Chester started building his castle here in about 1220. Contrary to popular belief, it was not built to keep the Welsh in order, despite its proximity to the Welsh border. Rather it was built by Ranulf , a supporter of King John, as a stronghold during John's problems with the Barons. It was in-fighting within England that was a threat at this time.

 

It changed hands many times and like lots of other castles it was added to and improved throughout its active life. Domestic buildings were planned at the castle, but probably never completed, meaning that it always had a rather austere, military feel about it. It was repaired and brought back into use during the Civil War, where it was besieged and eventually slighted. 

 

 

 


 

 


 

By the Victorian times it had become a tourist attraction, and its then owner Lord Tollemache built a replica gatehouse at the entrance to the site, to act as a ticket office. Tollemache owned a large amount of land in Cheshire, and in 1844 he started to build a castle on the opposite hill to Beeston. This castle was named Peckforton and became his principal residence. Today it is a hotel, and it can be seen from the top of Beeston Castle. 

 

Today's visitors still enter the castle through Lord Tollemarche's ticket office. Following the path up the hill leads you to the ruined medieval outer gatehouse, which would have been the first point of entry into the castle precinct. There is enough of the gatehouse left for the modern day visitor to appreciate the vast strength of the building. 

 


 

 


 

As you climb further up the hill the views get better, and there are some conveniently sited benches to stop on the way up and take it all in. The inner gatehouse soon comes into view , with its modern bridge spanning the defensive ditch. On entering the inner ward through the gatehouse the visitor becomes aware of just how rocky the ground is- it was probably never levelled out and has an unusual contour, which means that you cannot see all of the inner ward at the same time, the lower parts of it are hidden from view until you climb to the top of the rocky slope and look down onto it. This means that even when there are lots of people at the top at the same time, it seems as though you are alone up there as you cannot necessarily see anyone else.

 

Once you have finished looking around the ruins there is a lot of woodland on the hill to explore, we walked all round the wooded slopes on the way down from the summit, passing some sandstone caves on the way (they are blocked off though, presumably for safety reasons). Once at the bottom again we had some pasties in the cafe in the adjoining field, they serve light refreshments here rather than full meals but it was certainly very well received by our tummies after all that walking. 

 

On the way home we drove past the entrance to Peckforton Castle and took a quick snap of the gatehouse. 

 

 


 

 


 

More info:  English Heritage Beeston Castle

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