Beeston Castle, Cheshire, England

Former Royal stronghold, Beeston Castle is a scheduled ancient monument according to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Act 1979. Between the northern and southerly peripheries of the Mid Cheshire Ridge, Beeston castle is located on the Beeston Crag. It is recognised as one of the most dramatic ruins of historical England.

Beeston castle was built by the 6th Earl of Chester and 1st Earl of Lincoln Ranulf de Blondeville. Last of the Anglo-Norman barons who prospered the most following the Norman conquest, Ranulf was an important figure during the reigns of Richard I and King John. He staunchly s upported the royal cause during the baronial civil war of King John’s reign. This loyalty resulted in Ranulf being granted titles, castles and estates across the country. In the second year of Henry III’s reign, Ranulf embarked on what was the fifth crusade in 1218. Following the failed crusade and his return to England, Ranulf found Henry’s viceroy Hubert de Brugh confiscating lands and property.

To shore up his position, Ranulf ordered the construction of Beeston castle, on the rocky sandstone Beeston crag in Cheshire. Incorporating an Iron Age rampart into the castle’s outer bailey wall, the site was chosen for the site’s extant natural defences. These natural defences accommodated a unique design, in which bailey itself replaced the traditional keep as the castle’s final stronghold.

Ranulf died in 1232 and his successor John died in 1237 without a male heir. This allowed Henry III to subsume the Earldom of Cheshire and take control of Beeston castle. Lacking permanent living quarters, Henry used the castle during the wars with Wales and used it to house captured Welsh prisoners. Between 1237 and 1602, Beeston castle remained in royal hands. It was then sold to Cheshire gentleman, Hugh Beeston.