Halton Castle

Halton Castle is a medieval castle now in ruins, situated in the old town of Halton and now part of the town of Runcorn, Cheshire, England, United Kingdom.

The castle is located on top of the hill called Halton Hill, a prominence of sandstone from where you can see the town.

It is classified as Grade I in the list of buildings in the United Kingdom and qualified as an old protected building.

It was the residence of the Halton barons from the 11th to the 14th century when it passed to the Duchy Of Lancaster.

It was besieged twice during the English Civil War, reason why its structure deteriorated.

In the 18th century a new courthouse was built on the site of the former guard’s house. The castle is in ruins except for the court, which has been converted into a pub.

History

Building and administration

Although there is no evidence of this, it is believed that the Hill of Halton Hill was inhabited already in prehistoric times.

After the Norman Conquest of England, Hugh d’Avranches, Earl of Chester, established the barony of Halton.

Nigel de Cotentin is the first baron to be known, and it is almost certain that he built a wooden castle on top of it, although excavations between 1986 and 1987 found no evidence of any feudal mota or Tower or palisade of wood.

Most likely, during the twelfth century, the wooden structure was replaced by a castle made of local sandstone although there is no documentary evidence of these remains.

The details of the construction are vague, but Has suggested that John de Gaunt, the 14th Baron, undertook reforms in the castle, although this has not been confirmed by documentary proof either.

When the 15th Baron, Henry Bolingbroke, ascended the throne as Henry IV of England, the castle Became part of the properties of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The first documented evidence of work done at Halton Castle shows that during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries maintenance work was regularly carried out on the castle. Between 1450 and 1457 a new door was built.

There is no evidence that the castle was involved in the War of the Two Roses, perhaps because of its little-known position.

However, an inspection of the Royal Palaces effected In 1609 suggests that at that time the castle was in poor condition.

During the Tudor period the castle was used less as a fortress and more as a prison, administrative center and a courthouse.

In 1580-81, Castle was designated as a prison for Catholic recruits, but there is no evidence that it was ever used for this purpose.

Royal Visitors

There is little evidence of visits by relevant personalities to the castle, although it is believed that in 1207 King John I of England visited the castle and donated £ 5 for the maintenance of the chapel.

It is certain that Edward II of England visited the castle and he remained there for three days in November 1323, at which time he also visited the Norton Priory.

Civil war

At the outbreak of the English Civil War the castle had a garrison of monarchists under the command of Captain Walter Primrose, who had been appointed by the Earl of Rivers.

The castle was besieged by parliamentary forces under Sir William Brereton in 1643 and the royalists surrendered after a few weeks.

When news of the arrival of superior monarchical forces sent by Rupert of the Rhine, the parliamentarians left the castle, that happened again to the monarchists to the orders of Colonel Fenwick.

In 1644 a second siege took place, but after the monarchists had less luck elsewhere, they decided to leave Halton and the castle was again occupied by the parliamentarians under William Brereton.

In 1646, a court-martial was held At Warrington, where it was decided that the defenses of the Halton and Beeston castles were to be dismantled, after which Halton Castle ceased to perform military duties.

By 1650 the castle was in a “very ruinous” state.

Later period

The castle continued to deteriorate even though the guard house continued to be used as a courthouse.

In 1728, George Cholmondeley, the second Earl of Cholmondeley leased the crown in castle.

In 1737 a courthouse was built on the site of the house Of the guard in the Middle Ages. In order to complete the work, Henry Sephton, an architect and builder of Liverpool, and John Orme, a carpenter of Prescot’s work, were appointed.

The courtroom was on the first floor while the prisoners remained in the basement.

About 1792 , The courthouse was in ruins and funds were found for its reparation, although the origin of these funds is unclear.19 The court continued to operate on the site until 1908.

About 1800, three crazy walls were added to the ruined walls in the eastern part of the castle so that the view from the Norton priory was more impressive, where Sir Richard Brooke lived. One of these walls was demolished about 1906.

During the Victorian era a sunken garden and two squares of lawn were built in the castle grounds.

In 1977 the castle was leased to the Halton Borough Council, and the castle enclosure was excavated in 1986-87.

Status

The courthouse is currently a pub, the Castle Hotel. The first floor is used as a settlement and basements are used as a pub cellar.

The walls of the castle are in a ruinous state but the circumference is intact and it is possible to surround it with the outside.

From its outstanding position you can see wide views in all directions, including Lancashire, Cheshire, the Pennines, the hills of the Peak District National Park and the North Wales mountains.

The castle is still owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and the site is run by the Norton Priory Museum Trust.

The interior of the castle is occasionally open to the public and there are plans to make it more accessible in the future.

The castle is listed as Grade I in the list of UK buildings, while the Castle Hotel is listed as Grade II*.