Reminders of Liverpool’s lost castle

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castle model in museum display Model of Liverpool Castle in the History Detectives gallery at the Museum of Liverpool © Mark McNulty

When visitors to the Museum of Liverpool reach the first floor, they’re often surprised to be greeted, right at the top of the stairs, by a model of a castle! Castles possibly aren’t something you especially associate with Liverpool, but the town did have one from around 1235 to the 1730s. 

Liverpool’s castle was built on a natural outcrop of sandstone in a defensive position overlooking the ‘pool’ – a natural tidal inlet from the River Mersey. The area is now Derby Square at the south end of Castle Street. The castle held a prominent position in the layout of the original medieval ‘seven streets’ of Liverpool.

Although we don’t know the exact layout of the castle, descriptions have been used to reconstruct a likely plan and look of the building. A historic document of 1347 describes the castle as including: a hall, a chapel, a brewhouse, a bakehouse, a horse mill and a covered well.

"Firste the said castell is scituate upon a rokk of stone and joyneth harde to the towne of Litherpole.

...Morevover the ringe walle of the said castell is metelie in goode repayre, savinge that in diverse placys therof the stones be fallen downe and gone"
A report on Liverpool Castle, 2 October 1559

Based on this understanding of Liverpool Castle, an exciting project is happening in August to recreate it – in cardboard!! Working with artist Olivier Grossette, Culture Liverpool are rebuilding Liverpool Castle, and other Merseyside castles between 9 and 12 August. Parts of Liverpool Castle will be being built at Williamson Square, which will be a fantastic spectacle, and there are opportunities to get involved!

This won’t be the first recreation of Liverpool Castle, in the Victorian period there was revived interest in medieval history, and William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme built a scale replica of Liverpool Castle at Rivington near Chorley which still stands. Seeing a new Liverpool Castle recreated in its original spot will be very special!