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Chester Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Agricola tower; Cestre

In the civil parish of Chester Castle.
In the historic county of Cheshire.
Modern Authority of Cheshire.
1974 county of Cheshire.
Medieval County of Cheshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ40486573
Latitude 53.18543° Longitude -2.89279°

Chester Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Agricola tower is the only feature of Castle which survived the destruction of the medieval castle by fire in late C18. Castle was originally an earthwork fortress of motte and bailey type built in 1070 by William I. The wooden tower was replaced by a stone tower in C12. The perimeter was walled in stone in late C12. Lower bailey was added in C13. New gates with drum towers were added to the inner bailey in C13 when the gate through Agricola tower was walled up. The outer bailey was walled with stone 1247-51, a new castle chamber added in 1246-7, and the Great Hall built 1250-3. The outer gatehouse was built 1292-3.Castle served as the administrative centre of the Earldom throughout the Mediaeval period. Castle was replaced after C18 fire by the buildings of the Shire Hall circa 1811. The curtain walls are listed Grade I and II. Part of the castle is scheduled. (PastScape)

Although built by William I, except during minorities or once when forfeited to the Crown in 1174, the castle was a possession of the Earls of Chester. However, with the death of the last Earl in 1237, it permanently passed to the Crown. It was extensively renovated in 1246-51 during Henry III's Welsh Wars. (HKW Vol. 2) The Earldom of Chester remained a royal patrimony throughout the Mediaeval period, and the castle at Chester remained a centre of judicial activity. Expenditure on the castle was mainly in the form of maintenance, and usually inadequate at that. The only new construction between 1485 and 1649 was the Prince's Hall to provide accommodation for the shire court. Although never wholly neglected, the sums spent on the fabric of the castle were comparatively small. (HKW Vol. 3)

The original earthwork here is regarded by King and Alcock as possibly a ringwork.
Although rebuilt many times the castle retains many of the multiple functions of the medieval castle. Until recent times it was the centre of county administration (although County Hall is now part of the University of Chester), it is still the site of the county court, the military still have some presence in the form of the Cheshire Military Museum and the castle remains a centre for high status events, such as royal visits.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
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Photos >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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