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Greenhalgh Castle

OS Grid Ref: - SD500451

Ruined Greenhalgh Castle overlooks the town of Garstang in Lancashire and stands on a hill between the River Wyre and the River Ribble estuaries.

The castle was built in 1490 by Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby to provide defence for his estates in the area. The land which the castle occupies was given to Stanley by his stepson King Henry VII in reward for his timely desertion of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, to which Henry VII largely owed his victory.

During the Civil War the castle was garrisoned by James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, in support of the Royalist cause. It was one of the last two Royalist strongholds in Lancashire to succumb following a two year siege during 1644/45 by Parliamentary forces. By late 1644 parliamentary forces were in control of the whole of Lancashire except for Lathom House (also earned by the Earl of Derby) and Greenhalgh Castle.

The siege of the castle was recorded by a Puritan writer of the time:-

'Colonel Dodding with his regiment, with Major Joseph Rigby's cannons, laid close siege to Greenhalgh Castle, keeping their main court at Garstang town. Into the castle were gotten many desperate Papists. Their governor was the one Mr. Anderton. They vexed the country thereabouts extremely, fetching in the night many honest men from their houses and making a commodity of them. They sallied out oft, and killed some. They stood it out stoutly all through the winter. The country was put to extraordinary charges in maintaining the men, who made a prey without pity, such an abundance of provision they weekly destroyed. The leaguers thought to have undermined the castle and blown it up with gunpowder. At great cost they spent much to pioneers, but to no effect, for the ground was so sandy that it would not stand.'

The garrison at the castle finally surrendered in May 1645 on the provision of their being allowed safe conduct to return to their homes unharmed. The castle was then slighted (partially destroyed) to ensure that it could not be again used for military purposes.

All that remains today of the original four towers is the lower portion of one, which stands on a knoll, measuring about 7.5 metres square and standing to a height of 8 metres with walls about five feet thick. Traces of the moat are still visible. Many of the local farmhouses have incorporated the stones from the castle ruins into their buildings.

Visitors may view the tower on a number of free and guided walks led by the Wyre Borough Council. The council offers two walks that visit the site of the castle.

A walk to Greenhalgh Castle

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