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Liverpool Castle

Liverpool Castle - Medieval origins

For more than 400 years Liverpool castle stood as a strong town fortress and witnessed some significant local historical events. Although no traces of the original structure remain, the site of Liverpool Castle is immortalised in Castle Street within the city environs.

Medieval Castle

The early history of the castle is somewhat uncertain but it seems probable that it was erected by William de Ferrers sometime in the period 1232-1247. Little is known about this early structure but an inspection of 1347 revealed the castle was comprised of four towers, was surrounded by a dry moat, and included a chapel, bakehouse, brewhouse, herb garden, dovecot and orchard. An inquisition taken in the first year of Edward III (1326-27) found Robert de Holland in possession of the castle and borough of Liverpool, a holding collectively valued at ₤30.10.0.

Over the period 1446-1472 ownership was claimed by Sir Richard Molyneux, who held title as constable of the castle, passing in due course to his son. By 1476 it was clear that the structure required repair and a schedule drawn up for this purpose recommended that the hall and chapel chamber should be covered with shingle, a new chamber to the west was to be covered with stone or mortar, and walls adjoining two of the castle towers were to be covered with turf. Reference is also made to the Gate House and Prison Tower. By 1559 the castle had again slipped into a poor state of repair, and expenditure of ₤150 was suggested in order that the building might be turned into a facility for storage of court rolls.

Finally in 1715 an Act was passed to demolish the castle and build a church in its place. Construction of St George's church begun on the site of the old castle and was consecrated in 1734. By 1825 the church had been pulled down and a new one built in its place. 

In 1899 the church was demolished and the Victoria Monument was erected the principle work of perhaps the most important Liverpool-based sculptor, C. J. Allen. The monument itself is of Portland stone, and all the figures are in bronze. It was erected in 1902 and stands to this day. We might pause to note that this monument contains an unusually large number of statues - as well as the figure of Victoria, we have four basal groups of three figures each, four upper figures each with two infants, and the summit angel. Only a very few monuments, and the most sumptiously decorated buildings, exceed this total ensemble.

The unveiling of the Monument on 27th September 1906
The plaque on the Victoria Monumen


In Lever Park, Rivington near Chorley, William Lever built a folly which is a scale replica of Liverpool Castle in ruins. Building started in 1912 and the replica which was not completed was based on a conjectural reconstruction of the castle prepared by E. W. Cox in 1892.

The Castle replica at Rivington near Chorley


By Robert F Edwards

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