HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Shropshire HER Result
Shropshire HERPrintable version | About Shropshire HER | Visit Shropshire HER online...

HER Number (PRN):00904
Name:Whitchurch Castle
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Conservation Area: Whitchurch

Monument Type(s):

  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1540 AD)


The castle at Whitchurch was founded by 1199 and is mentioned again in 1240 and 1260. Part of the curtain wall was still standing in 1760. There are, however, no extant remains.

Parish:Whitchurch Urban, North Shropshire, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ54SW
Grid Reference:SJ 5389 4169

Related records

05903Parent of: Earthworks to N. of Sherrymill, Whitchurch (Monument)
00913Related to: Castle Gates now at Nat West Bank, Whitchurch (Monument)
04623Related to: Possible section of town ditch on Castle Hill, Whitchurch (Monument)
00909Related to: Whitchurch Roman Fort (Monument)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA871 - 1976 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA872 - 1978 excavation by Whitchurch Area Archaeological Group
  • ESA874 - 1994 Evaluation of land at Newtown, Whitchurch by Giffords
  • ESA88 - 1992 Evaluation at Castle Hill, Whitchurch by Gifford & Partners
  • ESA90 - 1993 Excavation and WB at Castle Hill, Whitchurch by Gifford & Partners


William de Warren, Domesday lord of Weston (later Whitchurch) may have founded the Castle here. Castle at Whitchurch mentioned in 1199 when clearly already in existence. Also 1240, 1260 <1a><2>
Possible remains of motte? at SJ54134149 <1d>
Part of the wall of the Castle of Whitchurch was standing in 1760, on the Castle Hill, on the side next the mill, just above the brook that that now runs under what is called the Lock-up-house <1bi>
Listed as a castle, mentioned in 1199 and 1246, at SJ543415 <1c>
The mill referred to in [<3>] was at the foot of the High St (at SJ54214149). The walling, extant in 1760, on the W side of Mill St, would presumably have been curtain walling, since the castle itself would have been on the highest point, some distance further west <1d>
There are no extant remains of Whitchurch Castle which probably stood upon the summit of the hill at approx SJ54024156. The siting by Whitfield [<1d>] at SJ54134149 lies within a coal yard; there are no traces of a motte. OS FI 1976 <1>

There is a reference in a pipe roll for the repair of a castle of 'Album Monasterium' in 1119 AD. <2>

The Mill adjoined the Lord Hill Hotel on the side now occupied by New Street (shown on map? of 1761 in UDC offices). <3>

First century Roman fort ditch (see PRN 00909) recut in late medieval period, C14, possibly part of castle defences. (SJ54084151) <4>

A ditch excavated in 1993 at SJ54124148, (adjacent to the coalyard referred to above) and recorded on the SMR as PRN 04623, was thought by the excavators (Giffords) to be likely to be the ditch of the castle. Giffords produced a summary of all the evidence to date for the existence and site of the castle. This included a recently discovered C19 drawing of a three storey stone building, probably a gatehouse, and labelled as Whitchurch Castle. <8>

In March 1994 Giffords carried out an evaluation of land at c SJ5402 4153, on the plot of land marked on C20 OS maps as the site of the castle. The two trenches excavated at the top end of this plot, adjoining Newtown, identified features interpreted only as post medieval building features and deposits, plus a WWII air raid shelter. Nothing relating to earlier periods was found, although the sandstone used in one of the post-medieval building foundations may have been re-used from and earlier structure such as the Roman fortress or the Medieval castle. <9>

The following documentary references are noted: 1166 AD; 1165, 1172 and 1188 AD - payments to sergeants, watchmen and porters at Whitchurch; 1384 AD - accounts referring to the repair of the castle; 1538 AD - John Leland saw the castle 'apon a broket' (brook). The castle may have originally been earth and timber but by 1384 it seems to have been rebuilt in stone. <10>

Further to the evaluation carried out in 1993 (see <8>), a programme of excavation was carried out at this site which aimed to uncover a full profile of the ditch, though this proved not to be possible. The ditch, running east-west, was cut into natural. Its full width was not recorded in the excavation, although its suggested width can be predicted as 10-12m. Excavation indicated a 12th-13th century origin, with early deposits appearing to be entirely from silting, with only a little evidence of rubbish deposition. There is evidence only of one cut, with fills dating from the late C12/C13 to early C14. The upper backfills contained C17 pottery which is said to be intrusive. No other features relating to the ditch were found. The site appears to have been levelled prior to the construction of C19 cottages.->

-> The recovery of a ditch of medieval date in Whitchurch suggests that it could be related to a castle structure or a town ditch. Given the ditch location along Castle Hill in the vicinity of the castle, and its late twelfth/thirteenth century origin and the lack of substantial rubbish deposition as is evidenced in many town ditches, the ditch was interpreted as relating to the medieval castle. The identification of the line of the ditch was used to provide evidence that the castle would have been located to the north of the excavation site, probably north of Pepper Street and along the western side of Castle Hill. <11>

CMHTS Comment: A castle is known to have existed at Whitchurch from documentary references [<2><10>]. The location of the castle has been assumed to be in the Newtown/ Castle Hill area for the following reasons: ->
i) The reference in Nightingale in 1813 [<1bi>]. The mill referred to has been taken to be that on Mill Street [<11>] [cf PRN SA 05897]. A mill was situated behind Newton in the C18th and possibly at Sherry Mill Hill [see PRN SA 05890, 05849] - this would place the stonework either on Newtown or on Shery Mill Hill. The brook is the mill stream ->
ii) The 1880 OS map [<12>] marks the site of the castle in Newtown [see PRN SA 05901]. It is not clear why this is, but if the mill referred to in (i) was that at Park Avenue [PRN SA 05890] then it could be because of standing masonry in this area ->
iii) An OS correspondent, J R Whitfield, in 1976 identified the remains of a motte at SJ54134149 [<1d>]. There is no evidence of a motte in this area, however, and this may be a mistake (other remains recorded by the same correspondent are also in some doubt - see PRN SA 00914) ->
iv) The location of a 'castle ditch on Castle Hill' [<11>] ->

-> It would appear, however, that the castle was not at this location, but at Sherrymill Hill to the NW of the town. This is because: ->
i) The castle was being repaired in 1384 [<10>], and therefore must still have been a substantial structure. The area of burgage plots at Newtown was laid out by 1400 [<13>], however, and it is impossible that the castle and burgage plots could have existed at the same time in the same place ->
ii) The 'castle ditch' discovered [PRN SA 05837] was in fact the town ditch [PRN SA 05867], infilled by the 14th century. The argument in [<11>] that this could not be the town ditch because it was consolidated (p1), and because it lacks substantial rubbish disposal (p2) is untenable. ->
iii) The remains mentioned by Nightingale [<1bi>] may have been above the mill under Sherrymill Hill [see PRN SA 05849], but are perhaps more likely to relate to the 1880 OS "site of the castle" and to have stood on Castle Hill above the Mill on Park Avenue [see PRN SA 05890]. If this is the case the stone remains may have been a substantial medieval town house or perhaps the remains of a stone town wall. The argument presented in (i) suggest that they could not have been the castle ->
iv) Earthworks observed on Sherry Mill Hill [PRN SA 05903] could be a windmill mound or a castle motte and ditch. The mound could in fact have been both a motte and later a windmill mound as occurred at Wem [PRN SA 05497] ->
v) During the C16th, when pressure for land increased in the town due to population growth, the courts record a spate of cases when people in the town asked for a jury to be set up to determine the boundaries of their properties. One of these was the case of John Roden, who in 1586 held a place called 'the Castle' which had no definite boundaries and no sure way to it. Eventually the court determined its limits and laid down a way to it two yards wide through Thomas Humphreson's burgage [<14>]. This description of land called 'the Castle' does not fit any area of Newtown/ Castle Hill, which had medieval burgages and access routes. It fits much better the area of Sherrymill Hill, which was cut off from its access from Yardington by the development of burgage plots to the NW of the street [PRN SA 05927] ->

->The exact limits of the castle are not known and the area has been very badly damaged by housing development. The boundaries of this component are intended to include rather than define the castle. <15>

CMHTS Report. <16>

The castle was destroyed along with most of the town by Owain Glyndower and the Welsh in 1404. <17>

The mill referred to (by <1b>) was at the foot of the High Street (at SJ 54214149). The walling, extant in 1760, on the W side of Mill Street, would presumably have been curtain walling, since the castle itself would have been on the highest point, some distance further to the west. There are no extant remains of Whitchurch Castle which probably stood upon the summit of the hill at approx SJ 54024156. The siting by (5) falls within a coal yard; there are no traces of a motte. Info: Oral: Mr G C Owen Local Historian 13 Edgeley Road Whitchurch 22.3.76 <18>


[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 00904.
[01c]SSA1163 - Article in serial: Hogg A H A & King D J C. 1963. Early Castles in Wales and the Marches. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Vol 112. p77-124. p90, p122.
[01a]SSA242 - Article in serial: Eyton R W. 1887. The Castles of Shropshire. Trans Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 1, Vol X (=Vol 10). p27-28.
[01b]SSA3262 - Volume: Anon. 1895. Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society. Transactions Shropshire Archaeol Hist Soc. Ser 2, Vol VII (=Vol 18). p61.
[01bi]SSA3266 - Monograph: Nightingale J. 1813. History of Shropshire.
[01d]SSA3267 - Map annotation: Whitfield J R W. Map annotation by OS Correspondent.
[01]SSA3268 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1976. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ54SW5. Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ54SW5.
[01e]SSA3269 - VERBAL COMMUNICATION: Owen G C. 1976. Comment, 22/03/1976.
[02]SSA3221 - Monograph: Eyton R W. 1854/ 1860. Antiquities of Shropshire (Volume 10). Vol 10. p18, p20-21.
[03]SSA2324 - Monograph: Duggan T C. 1935. History of Whitchurch. p39-40.
[04]SSA3265 - Excavation report: Griffiths R. 1978. Evaluation Trench for Whitchurch Area Archaeol Gp, 24/08/1978.
[05]SSA20221 - Planning archive: Shropshire County Council. 1991. Consultation Response, 1991. DC proforma PF2.
[06]SSA20222 - Planning archive: Shropshire County Council. 1992. Consultation Response, 1992. DC proforma PF2.
[07]SSA20223 - Planning archive: Shropshire County Council. 1992. Consultation Response, 1992. DC proforma PF2.
[08]SSA3263 - Excavation report: Gifford and Partners Ltd. 1992. Archaeological Evaluation at Castle Hill, Whitchurch, Shropshire. Gifford and Partners Rep.
[09]SSA3264 - Excavation report: Gifford and Partners Ltd. 1994. Archaeological Evaluation of Land at Newtown, Whitchurch. Gifford and Partners Rep. 6666.02.
[10]SSA11718 - Article in serial: James R B. 1990. Notes on the History of Whitchurch. Whitchurch Area Archaeol Gp Newsl. No 43. p6-7. p6-7.
[11]SSA11723 - Excavation report: Thompson A. 1993. Report on an Archaeological Excavation at Castle Hill, Whitchurch, Shropshire. Gifford and Partners Rep. Rep 6153.01/2.
[12]SSA9543 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1880. OS County Series 07.04, 1880. OS County Series. 07.04. 1:2500.
[13]SSA11719 - Article in serial: James R B. 1984. Some Early Deeds with Burgages and Families in Whitchurch. Whitchurch Area Archaeol Gp Newsl. No 25. p3.
[14]SSA11720 - Article in serial: Watts S. 1993. Evidence for Population Growth and Economic Prosperity in Whitchurch in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Whitchurch Area Archaeol Gp Newsl. No 52. p1-6. p3.
[15]SSA19975 - Record form: Buteux Victoria. 1993/ 1996. CMHTS SMR Records Shropshire: Whitchurch. Central Marches Historic Towns Survey record form. Vol 12. Whitchurch 904.
[16]SSA12088 - Historic landscape survey report: Buteux Victoria et al. 1996. Archaeological Assessment of Whitchurch, Shropshire (CMHTS). Hereford & Worcester CAS Rep. Rep 354.
[17]SSA22031 - Archaeological fieldwork report: Luke G & Malim T. 2004. An archaeological evaluation and watching brief at 14-16 Dodington, Whitchurch, Shropshire. Gifford and Partners Rep. 11574.R03.
[18]SSA31554 - Site visit report: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. Various. NRHE: Ordnance Survey Field Investigators Comments. F1 ASP 25-MAR-76.
Date Last Edited:May 12 2021 5:29PM