Chester Castle


"CHESTER ...  Of the ancient castle, built by the Conqueror, there remains only a large square tower, called "Julius Agricolas Tower," now used as a magazine for gunpowder. Though of modern appearance, having recently been newly fronted, it is undoubtedly of great antiquity, and interesting as the probable place of confinement of the Earl of Derby; and in which Richard II., and Margaret, Countess of Richmond, were imprisoned. In the second chamber James II. heard mass, on his tour through this part of the kingdom, a short time previously to the Revolution. This apartment, when opened after many years of disuse as a chapel, exhibited, from the richness of its decorations, a splendid appearance, the walls being completely covered with paintings in fresco, as vivid and beautiful as when executed. The roof, from the rich effect produced by the ribs of the groined arches, springing elegantly from slender pillars, with capitals in a chaste and curious style, was equally striking. The remainder of the original structure, which was pulled down in 1790, contained a room termed Hugh Lupus' Hall, which was regarded as a superb specimen of baronial magnificence; it was ninety-five feet long and forty-five wide, with an antique roof of wood, curiously carved and resting upon brackets. The new edifice, which has excited general admiration, was erected from a design by Mr. Harrison, and under his inspection. The principal entrance is of the Doric order, resembling the Acropolis at Athens. Opposite to the great gate is the shire-hall, a magnificent structure, internally of the semicircular form, eighty feet in diameter, in height forty-one, and in width fifty: a semicircular range of twelve Ionic pillars supports the roof, which is finely ornamented in stucco, and the effect of the whole is highly imposing. The entrance to the gaol, which is appropriated to debtors and felons of the county, is on the right of the hall. At the eastern side of the yard are barracks, fronted with white freestone, and ornamented with Ionic pillars, capable of lodging one hundred and twenty men. On the western side is a corresponding building, used as an armoury, which will contain thirty thousand stand of arms. The castle is a royal fortress: the establishment consists of a governor, lieutenant-governor, ordnance-keeper, and barrack-master. The constableship of the tower is held by patent, and is free from municipal control. The castle, although within the city walls, is extra-parochial, as is also the township of Gloverstone, now merged into the county: the sheriffs for the city attend the execution of criminals for offences committed in the county, whom they receive in form at the verge of the city, and conduct to the drop in front of the gaol; for which service, the corporation, as keepers of the north gate, were formerly entitled to a toll. Sixteen persons are named in a record of the fourteenth century as being obliged, by their tenure in the city, and the exemptions they enjoyed, to conduct the malefactors, not only of the city, but also of the county palatine, to the gallows; and the occupiers of some houses held by this tenure still continue to pay a composition, called Execution, or Gable rent," to be relieved from this duty. ... " [From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) ©Mel Lockie]

  • Chester Castle was an extra-parochial place within the city of Chester (SJ 4065), which became a civil parish in 1858, and has remained a separate enclave from the parish and borough of Chester .
  • It includes Chester Barracks and Chester Gaol.
  • The population was 193 in 1801, 591 in 1851, 230 in 1901, 123 in 1951, and 0 in 2001.

Civil Registration

  • Great Boughton (1837-69)
  • Chester (1870-1937)
  • West Cheshire (1937-74)
  • Chester & Ellesmere Port (1974-98)
  • Cheshire West (1998-2007)
  • Cheshire (2007-09)
  • Cheshire West & Chester (2009+)

Court Records

  • Chester (City) (1828-71)
  • Chester Castle (1871-1974)
  • Chester (1974-2001)
  • Chester, Ellesmere Port & Neston (2001-12)
  • West Cheshire (2012+)

Historical Geography

  • 1899 November 9 — Gained part of Chester (pop. 0 in 1901), and lost part to Chester (pop. 0 in 1901)

Politics & Government

  • Chester Rural Sanitary District (1874-94)
  • Chester Rural District (1894-1974)
  • Chester (1974-2009)
  • Cheshire West & Chester (2009+)

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Great Boughton (1837-71)
  • Chester (1871-1930)

Voting Registers

  • Chester City (1832-1974)