Nantwich Museum

Nantwich Castle

Did you know Nantwich had a Castle?!

Nantwich has a Castle Street, but did you know Nantwich once had a castle? This article is based on an article written by the late Allan Whatley, who was an authority on the history of Nantwich.

Between the Welsh Row/High Street traffic lights and the pedestrian crossing lights by the mill race, stop and stand with your back to the river. Take in the sweep of the town. The ground rises. Most of what you see are the backs of buildings in High Street. In the centre is the NatWest Bank and to the right, with a road in between, is a chapel-like building on the knoll. Today this is a night club called The Studio.

On the mound here once stood Nantwich Castle. It was not one of the giants such as Harlech or Caernarvon, but a small tower of stone or wood-on-stone-base, surrounded by a ditch of, maybe, 12 feet in depth.

J. J. Lake in his Great Fire (1985) p.135, says the castle is poorly documented. Such information as has been found comes mainly from materials (in Harleian Mss.) kept in the British Library in London. Other references are in the Wilbraham Ms. or the Sneyd charters.

Several excavations have been made around the site and these prove the existence of the ditch.

The castle was built by William Malbank for his brother Piers about 1160 to 1170. It was a look-out point and a defence against any Welsh attack from the west. Below the castle was the area called the bailey(outer wall) in which would be a number of dwellings. At the river was a ford.

The castle served its purpose until 1282 when the Welsh were conquered. After that it became a ruin. No doubt the timber was re-used somewhere else in the town. Among the references, mentioned above, we may note that the castle was left in 1288 by another William Malbank to his daughter Philippa. She married and became the Countess of Warwick.

However we do know what happened to the stones of the castle.About 1441 when John de Kyngeslegh died, the people, in giving thanks for his many good deeds since he came to Nantwich in 1400, commemorated his life by building a chapel on to the St Mary`s Church(the south transept). For this purpose permission had to be obtained from Lord Audley to use stones taken from the castle ruins.

The last mention of the castle was in 1462; later references are to the site of the castle. Some descriptions, found in Nantwich Library or Nantwich Museum, are in James Hall`s History of Nantwich (1883) or in Nantwich Museum News (6) May 1986 on the restoration of No.46 High Street.