Over a mile away from the original motte castle, of which only the 20' high mutilated mound now remains as a garden feature, stands the Edwardian Chirk castle.  This first castle is mentioned in royal documents of the 1160s and 1210s and appears to have been operational from the death of King Madog ap Maredudd at Whittington in 1160.  No castle is then mentioned at Chirk until that presumably built by Roger Mortimer of Chirk (d.1326).

On 2 June 1282 King Edward I (d.1307) granted Roger Mortimer Junior the lands of Llywelyn Vaughan who was then fighting for Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (d.1282) against the king.  In 1287 Roger was ordered to raise 400 footmen from his lands of Chirk, however there is no inclination as to when he decided to build Chirk castle.  All that is certain is that it was standing as Chirke castle in February 1322 when Roger Mortimer of Chirk was arrested and imprisoned for treason in leading a rebellion against King Edward II.  The castle then passed through the hands of the Fitz Alans, the Beauforts and William Stanley, who led the charge that killed Richard III (d.1485).  However, ten years later it was Stanley who was killed by Henry VII (d.1509), supposedly for supporting Richard's purported nephew, Duke Richard of York, aka. Perking Warbeck.  Henry VIII carried out renovations in 1529 and in 1563 it passed to the Dudleys and then in 1595 was purchased by Thomas Middleton.  In 1659 it was battered during Sir George Booth's Cheshire rising, leading to further restoration which has continued virtually up to the present day.

The castle fills a rectangular courtyard about 140' by 100', although the original castle, if it was ever completed, would seem to have been 140' by 180'.  It would appear that the original plan was a card shaped castle with a round tower at each corner and a D shaped tower in the middle of the four walls of the enceinte.  The castle that survives today has a full set of 3 towers on the north wall, but the southern third of the castle has totally gone with the 3 southern towers.  In place of the southern third of the castle a late seventeenth century range has been built which includes the castle chapel at the east end.

The original walls were some 12' thick, but to the east they and the 2 eastern towers have been honed out to make a lighter, Georgian style.  The entire castle has also been drastically reduced in height, if it was ever completed in full.  Hence the towers now being the same height as the curtain.  The 3 surviving westernmost towers still have walls up to 16' thick, the central north tower having 3 loops at ground level, the NW tower has 5 and the central western tower, known as Adam's Tower, has 4.  There is also a dungeon under this tower.  Entrance to the current castle is gained through a hole in the wall entrance between the north and NE towers.  

Why not join me at other Lost Welsh Castles next Spring?  Please see the information on tours at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry