Manchester Castle

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Manchester Castle
Chetham's School of Music on the site of Manchester Castle
Manchester Castle is located in Greater Manchester
Manchester Castle
Location within Greater Manchester
General information
Architectural styleFortified manor house
Town or cityManchester, Greater Manchester
Coordinates53°29′12″N 2°14′31″W / 53.486768°N 2.241911°W / 53.486768; -2.241911Coordinates: 53°29′12″N 2°14′31″W / 53.486768°N 2.241911°W / 53.486768; -2.241911
Clientde Grelley family barons of Manchester

Manchester Castle was a medieval fortified manor house, probably located on a bluff where the rivers Irk and Irwell meet, near to Manchester Cathedral, where Chetham's School of Music now is,[1] putting it near the edge of the medieval township of Manchester (grid reference SJ839989).[2]


Photo of Chethams from the other side of the River Irwell

Manchester Castle was first referred to in 1184; in 1215 it was recorded as belonging to the Greslé family,[3] who were barons of Manchester.[4] This is the last historic reference to the castle.[5] Before the manor house was built, Manchester Castle may have taken the form of a ringwork[1] constructed from timber and with a wooden palisade.[4] This earlier castle has been described as "of no political or military importance".[4] Three rings of ditches have been discovered surrounding the likely site of the castle, however these may be part of a Saxon burh or Norman castle.[2]

In his book Warfare in England (1912), author and historian Hilaire Belloc identified the "Manchester Gap", between the Pennines and the Mersey estuary, to be one of the two most important defensive lines in medieval England along with the line of the River Thames. Although Belloc ascribed great importance to Manchester and its notional ability to hamper troop movements, castle historian D.J. Cathcart King refuted Belloc as the site was forgotten at an early date.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Newman (2006), p. 141.
  2. ^ a b "Manchester Castle". Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  3. ^ "Manchester Castle". The Gatehouse - the comprehensive gazetteer of the medieval fortifications and castles of England and Wales. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Kidd (1996), p. 13.
  5. ^ Nevell (2008), p. 41.
  6. ^ Cathcart King (1983), pp. xx–xxi.
  • Cathcart King, David J. (1983). Catellarium Anglicanum: An Index and Bibliography of the Castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume I: Anglesey–Montgomery. Kraus International Publications.
  • Kidd, Alan (1996) [1993]. Manchester. Keele: Keele University Press. ISBN 1-85331-028-X.
  • Nevell, Mike (2008). Manchester: The Hidden History. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4704-9.
  • Newman, Caron (2006). "Medieval Period Resource Assessment". Archaeology North West. 8: 115–144. ISSN 0962-4201.