Beeston Castle & buried treasure
In 1237 the castle was used by Henry the third as a prison during his war with Wales. The views from the castle are spectacular and on a clear day it is said that you can see eight counties stretching from the Pennines to the Welsh mountains.
In the past the castle was captured by Sir William Brereton who commanded the Parliamentarian forces in 1643 and began to rebuild its defenses. Beeston castle became a supply base for the Parliamentarians as the fighting had moved elsewhere. It was garrisoned by second class troops led by Captain Thomas Steele, an ex cheese dealer from Chester!
The seige now became very much of a stand off, the Royalists were finding things difficult as supplies were running low. However the Parliamentarian soldiers who were away from both their homes and families began to desert as their own towns and villages became caught up in the war.
On November 15th 1645 the Royalists finally gave in and sought surrender terms. Their leaders argued very favourable terms of surrender, concealing the fact that they were very weak. The army was allowed to march out of the castle with their freedom and flying their banners high. They left behind provisions for only one more night, and they had even eaten their cats! After the surrender of the Royalists the Parliamentarian army remained until orders were received to dismantle the castle. Men were brought in from Beeston and Rainsford on Merseyside to help in the destruction of the defences, the castle was then left unoccupied.
Moving on to the more interesting topic of the treasure that is said to be located here, there are at least two versions regarding its reason for being here. It is said that the Royalist forces hid a great treasure in a deep well located in the castle before they surrendered, others say that Richard II flung it into the well to ensure that his victorious rival Bolingbroke would be unable to acquire it.
It was widely regarded that the treasure was guarded by demons and that anyone that goes down the well will be struck dumb or go mad.
English Heritage surveyors have recently lowered a camera down the well to try to uncover some of its secrets said to surround this well, which at 370 ft is the deepest medieval well in England. As well as trying to find out if there is any truth in the legend of buried treasure at the bottom of the well, it is also hoped to inspect the lining of the well. The well was dug to a depth of 370 ft to ensure a fresh supply of water to the castle.
The last inspection took place in the 1930s when debris was removed from the well leading to the discovery of two passageways leading off the main shaft of the well, this may in fact support the story of a secret passage leading from the castle to one or more nearby farms which was used to bring provisions into the castle when it was under seige. More recently a blockage was found in the main shaft at a depth of 250 ft, once this has been removed who knows what will be found!