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Manchester Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Mamecestre; Mainecestr'; Chetham College

In the civil parish of Manchester.
In the historic county of Lancashire.
Modern Authority of Manchester.
1974 county of Greater Manchester.
Medieval County of Lancashire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ839988
Latitude 53.48657° Longitude -2.24409°

Manchester Castle has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

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


A naturally defensible bluff at the confluence of the Rivers Irk and Irwell was the site of the manor house of the Greley family by the 13th century, and probably also of their castle, documented in 1184. Three concentric ditches encircling the promontory have been identified, two of them relating to the line of Long Millgate and Hanging Ditch, close to the present cathedral, and one running through the yard of Chetham's School and Library. The origins and exact course of each are open to conjecture, although it has been suggested that they may relate to the Norman castle, or possibly even the Saxon burh. (PastScape)

The manor house of Manchester was the at site now occupied by Chetham Hospital, just North of the church (now Cathedral). This was a naturally defensible situation on a sandstone outcrop at the confluence of the Rivers Irwell and Irk, this would appear to be the most likely situation for the castle mentioned in 1184-7, when in the custody of Robert de Burun, and 1215-16, when held by Robert Gresle. It is not impossible that by the late C12 the castle was of masonry, although there is no masonry of that date on the site. However the site is quite small and can not have been a major building. There is nothing to suggest a motte at the site. There may have been the embankment of a ringwork, at least on the southern side otherwise the site may have defined by a ditch and the natural scarps. The successor manor house on the site is usually described as fortified, and the natural features and ditch would have made it defensible. This house was given to the church in the C15 as a residence for priests for the collegiate church.
There are Castlefield place-names in Manchester but these are somewhat south of above site and refer to Roman remains rather than the medieval castle.
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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 09:21:27

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