History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Does a lost royal treasure lie in a hidden chamber beneath the castle, as legend tells?
Persistent legend tells that a vast treasure was hidden at Beeston by Richard II. The story goes that Richard chose Beeston to hide his personal fortune of “100,000 marks in gold coin and 100,000 marks in other precious objects” before he went on a trip to Ireland in 1399. On his return he was captured and eventually killed by Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster (later Henry IV). Richard never had a chance to recover his treasure, and no one knew where it had been hidden.
Beeston is fascinating for what it shows about castle bulding; there is no keep here, for military architecture had moved on from the Norman model. Instead, the entire site is encircled by a strong curtain wall punctuated by smaller towers, following the natural contours of the hillside. Even though only the wall on the eastern side remains intact, there are still seven towers along it, so the original wall must have been enormously impressive.
At the highest point of the hill is the inner ward, protected by another thick stone wall and round flanking towers guarding a gatehouse. The curtain wall is badly damaged, as are the 3 D-shaped towers which face the ditch. On the opposite side of the inner bailey the walls are not nearly so impressive, but then, they didn't need to be, for here the hill falls away abruptly in a sheer cliff.
The entrance gates to Beeston look authentic, but they are Victoria additions, set at the base of the hill. From there visitors have to walk up a fairly steep incline, through extremely impressive stone walls that encircle the site. A trail leads up an open hillside to the castle itself, which is protected by a dry ditch cut into the solid rock. Thankfully a modern footbridge crosses the ditch, and leads through a large gateway into the castle courtyard. Most of the castle remains inside the courtyard are ruinous, though the well cut straight down into the rock is impressive. The views are amazing, looking out over the Cheshire Plain and into Wales. Easily visible on the neighbouring hill is what looks like another castle, like a twin to Beeston, but it is a Victorian Gothic fantasy, Peckforton Castle, now a hotel.
Address: Chapel Lane, Beeston, Cheshire, England, CW6 9TX
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: 11 m SE Chester off A49 or A41
Phone: 01829 260 464
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
OS: SJ540 588
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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