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Whitchurch Castle Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Album Monasterium; Blancminster; Blanc Mouster; Blancmustier; Weston

In the civil parish of Whitchurch Urban.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ543415
Latitude 52.96888° Longitude -2.68636°

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

There are no visible remains.


The castle at Whitchurch was founded by 1199 and is mentioned again in 1240 and 1260. Part of the curtain wall was still standing in 1760. There are, however, no extant remains. (PastScape)

Castle at Whitchurch mentioned in 1199 when clearly already in existence. Also 1240, 1260 (Eyton1887; Eyton 1859)
Possible remains of motte? at SJ54134149
Part of the wall of the Castle of Whitchurch was standing in 1760, on the Castle Hill, on the side next the mill, just above the brook that that now runs under what is called the Lock-up-house (Nightingale 1813)
First century Roman fort ditch (see SA 909) recut in late medieval period, C14, possibly part of castle defences. (SJ54084151) (Griffiths 1978)
A ditch excavated in 1993 at SJ54124148, (adjacent to the coalyard referred to above) and put on the SMR as SA 4623, was thought by the excavators (Giffords) to be likely to be the ditch of the castle. Giffords produced a summary of all the evidence to date for the existence and site of the castle. This included a recently discovered C19 drawing of a three storey stone building, probably a gatehouse, and labelled as Whitchurch Castle. (Gifford 1992)
In March 1994 Giffords carried out an evaluation of land at c SJ5402 4153, on the plot of land marked on C20 OS maps as the site of the castle. The two trenches excavated at the top end of this plot, adjoining Newtown, identified features interpreted only as post medieval building features and deposits, plus a WWII air raid shelter. Nothing relating to earlier periods was found, although the sandstone used in one of the post-medieval building foundations may have been re-used from and earlier structure such as the Roman fortress or the Medieval castle (Gifford 1994)
The following documentary references are noted: 1166 AD; 1165, 1172 and 1188 AD - payments to sergeants, watchmen and porters at Whitchurch; 1384 AD - accounts referring to the repair of the castle; 1538 AD - John Leland saw the castle 'apon a broket' (brook). The castle may have originally been earth and timber but by 1384 it seems to have been rebuilt in stone (James 1990)
CMHTS Comment: A castle is known to have existed at Whitchurch from documentary references. The location of the castle has been assumed to be in the Newtown/ Castle Hill area for the following reasons: ->
i) The reference in Nightingale in 1813. The mill referred to has been taken to be that on Mill Street. A mill was situated behind Newton in the C18th and possibly at Sherry Mill Hill - this would place the stonework either on Newtown or on Shery Mill Hill. The brook is the mill stream ->
ii) The 1880 OS map marks the site of the castle in Newtown. It is not clear why this is, but if the mill was that at Park Avenue then it could be because of standing masonry in this area ->
iii) An OS correspondent, J R Whitfield, in 1976 identified the remains of a motte at SJ54134149. There is no evidence of a motte in this area, however, and this may be a mistake (other remains recorded by the same correspondent are also in some doubt) ->
iv) The location of a 'castle ditch on Castle Hill' ->
-> It would appear, however, that the castle was not at this location, but at Sherrymill Hill to the NW of the town. This is because: ->
i) The castle was being repaired in 1384, and therefore must still have been a substantial structure. The area of burgage plots at Newtown was laid out by 1400, however, and it is impossible that the castle and burgage plots could have existed at the same time in the same place ->
ii) The 'castle ditch' discovered was in fact the town ditch, infilled by the 14th century. The argument in that this could not be the town ditch because it was consolidated, and because it lacks substantial rubbish disposal is untenable ->
iii) The remains mentioned by Nightingale may have been above the mill under Sherrymill Hill, but are perhaps more likely to relate to the 1880 OS "site of the castle" and to have stood on Castle Hill above the Mill on Park Avenue. If this is the case the stone remains may have been a substantial medieval town house or perhaps the remains of a stone town wall. The argument presented suggest that they could not have been the castle ->
iv) Earthworks observed on Sherry Mill Hill could be a windmill mound or a castle motte and ditch. The mound could in fact have been both a motte and later a windmill mound as occurred at Wem ->
v) During the C16th, when pressure for land increased in the town due to population growth, the courts record a spate of cases when people in the town asked for a jury to be set up to determine the boundaries of their properties. One of these was the case of John Roden, who in 1586 held a place called 'the Castle' which had no definite boundaries and no sure way to it. Eventually the court determined its limits and laid down a way to it two yards wide through Thomas Humphreson's burgage. This description of land called 'the Castle' does not fit any area of Newtown/ Castle Hill, which had medieval burgages and access routes. It fits much better the area of Sherrymill Hill, which was cut off from its access from Yardington by the development of burgage plots to the NW of the street ->
->The exact limits of the castle are not known and the area has been very badly damaged by housing development. The boundaries of this component are intended to include rather than define the castle (Buteux 1993/6)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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