Location within Greater Manchester
|Architectural style||promontory castle|
|Town or city||Stockport, Cheshire|
Stockport Castle was a promontory castle in Stockport, Cheshire. The castle was in the medieval town, overlooking a ford over the River Mersey. It was first documented in 1173, but the next mention of it is in 1535 when it was in ruins. What remained of the castle was demolished in 1775.
Stockport Castle was an urban castle in the town of Stockport. The medieval town was on the south side of a valley at the confluence of the rivers Goyt and Tame, where they form the River Mersey. The site of the castle is a 10-metre-high (33 ft) sandstone spur, overlooking a ford (grid reference ). The castle was flanked by cliffs or steep slopes on its north, south, and west sides.
The first mention of Stockport Castle comes from 1173, when Geoffrey de Costentyn held it against Henry II during the barons' rebellion of 1173–1174. There is a local tradition that Geoffrey de Constentyn was the son of Henry II, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany; in fact, Geoffrey de Constentyn was a local lord who not only owned the manor of Stockport, but land in Staffordshire and Ireland. The bailey would originally have been defended by a wooden palisade and earthworks; these were replaced by stone walls at the beginning of the 13th century. Two fragments of the wall survive.
Dent suggests that the castle began to decline in the 14th century when the Warren family became Lords of the Manor of Stockport; Stockport was not the only manor that the family owned, and they favoured the manor of Poynton over that of Stockport. The castle falling out of use mirrors a trend with the other castles in the Greater Manchester area; by the 13th century, apart from Dunham Castle, there was no indication of activity in castles in Greater Manchester. According to antiquarian John Leland, the castle lay in ruins by 1535. At this stage, the gaol was still present and a market was held in the castle's bailey. The castle grounds had been divided and rented out by the Lord of the Manor. The ruins were levelled in 1775 by Sir George Warren, the lord of the manor, and a cotton mill built on the site. In 1974, excavations of the motte were carried out to establish how long the castle had been occupied.
A motte-and-bailey castle was a common type of fortification in medieval England. It consisted of a usually artificial mound surmounted by a tower or keep, with a large defended enclosed area next to the mound and was usually used for storage and barracks. Stockport Castle's motte was where Castle Yard is today – although it was previously called Castle Hill – influencing the name of the area. The bailey was situated south-east of the motte. The castle was probably similar in size and shape to castles such as Launceston in Cornwall, and Pontefract in West Yorkshire. The keep surmounting the motte was irregularly shaped, and according to plans drawn in 1775 by the Reverend John Watson, a local antiquarian, measured 31 by 60 m (102 by 197 ft). No trace of the keep remains from the levelling of the area in 1775 and 1853.
- Historic England. "Stockport Castle (1085399)". PastScape. Retrieved 5 January 2008.
- Dent (1977), p. 1.
- Dent (1977), p. 4.
- Arrowsmith (1997), p. 31.
- "Stockport Castle". The Gatehouse. Retrieved 5 January 2008.
- Dent (1977), p. 6.
- Grimsditch, Nevell & Redhead (2007), p. 8.
- Arrowsmith (1997), p. 32.
- Friar (2003), p. 44.
- Friar (2003), pp. 22, 214.
- Dent (1977), pp. 3–4.
- Arrowsmith, Peter (1997). Stockport: A History. Stockport MBC Community Services Division, and Stockport Libraries, in association with the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit. ISBN 0-905164-99-7.
- Dent, J. S. (1977). "Recent Excavations on the site of Stockport Castle". Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society. 79: 1–13.
- Friar, Stephen (2003). The Sutton Companion to Castles. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-3994-2.
- Grimsditch, Brian; Nevell, Mike; Redhead, Norman (2007). Buckton Castle: An Archaeological Evaluation of a Medieval Ringwork – an Interim Report. University of Manchester Archaeological Unit.