Beeston Castle & buried treasure

Beeston castle was built by Ranulph the Earl of Chester in 1220, it has two circuits of walls, the inner wall has an impressive gatehouse.

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 Royalists recaptured the castle in 1644, they added timber buildings to house cattle and sheep and widened the medieval arrow slits so that muskets could be fired through them.

In 1644 the Parliamentarians laid seige to the castle and they built an earthen fort within musket range of the outer gatehouse, and a continuous ditch was cut around the bottom of the crag.

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!

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6 Responses to “Beeston Castle & buried treasure”

  1. I went over this web site and I conceive you have a lot of superb information, bookmarked (:.

  2. Great information on this site, the following may be of interest to your visitors.
    Beeston castle built by Ranulf III, sixth Earl of Chester, also built Dieulacres Abbey, daughter house of Combermere. This castle seems to have maintained its links to the Cistercian abbeys during the 14th century. A Thomas le Plumer, monk of Combermere, fixed lead to three of the tower roofs in 1303-4. In 1361 John le clerc de Brundelegh, clerk of the abbot of Combermere was made castle constable.
    The castle has been conjectured to be the one mentioned in the 14th century poem, ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, a literary treasure of the Middle Ages. ‘Poetic license’ may have positioned the (Hautdesert) castle with its great barbican, closer to Ludchurch.
    See ‘Dieulacresse Abbey’ and ‘Is Ludchurch Sir Gawain’s Green Chapel?’

    My ancestors were from Cheshire and moved to the Staffordshire/Derbyshire peak district so this website is extremely interesting to me……thanks!

  3. Thanks so much for this – my ancestry leads back to Sir Hugh Beeston but I never really knew much about the treasure. Very interesting 🙂

  4. Further on Beeston and possible connections to the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Beeston castle, ‘Castle de Rupe’ or ‘Castle of the Rock’, Cheshire, was once on the edge of the Delamere forest and is thought by some scholars to be the castle at Hautdesert described by the poet. Gawain would have travelled past this landmark on his way to the Green Chapel from the Wirral forest. In the Gawain poem we have the line, ‘By St Peter said the Porter’, as Gawain asks for lodging at the castle. As well as being an obvious quote from a gatekeeper, is the ‘St. Peter’ quote a clue to the castle’s real identity? Beeston Castle, was on lands once owned by the St. Pierre (St. Peter/Sancto Petro) family. These lands were still referred to as St. Pierre lands in the 14th century. Beeston was known as the ‘Castle of the Rock’, ‘Castle de Rupe’ or plain, ‘de Rupe’. Peter is derived from the Latin, Petrus/Petra, meaning ‘Rock’.
    I hope the above is of interest to anyone interested in the priceless literary gem, housed in the British museum.

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