Mow Cop Castle, a familiar site to everyone
who has lived in the area during the past 250 years.
The A34 which itself was Roman could
have been watched over easily from a tower on the top of the hill. All this,
however, is speculation, and there is no hard physical evidence of Roman occupation.
If there was it would have been destroyed with the many years of quarrying
The Castle was built as a summerhouse in 1754 for Randle Wilbraham I of Rode Hall. It was built to look like part of a castle of a bygone era, and would have enhanced the view of the newly constructed Rode Hall some 3 miles away on the Cheshire side of the hill. Mr. Wilbraham employed local stonemasons John and Ralph Harding. It is said they were paid 1 shilling a day, and one of the members of the family lost a hand while constructing the castle. The Wilbraham family used the summerhouse for picnics and entertaining friends on days out. In the early part of the 19th century, Miss Wilbraham wrote.
"We have always
believed the family tradition, that towards the end of the 18th
century, the Wilbraham then resident at Rode Hall built the tower. The wall
was always broken so as to have effect off a ruin when looked at from the
In the mid 1800s, a row over the
summerhouse started between Randle Wilbraham and Ralph
Sneyd of Keele Hall. Sneyd claimed that part of the summerhouse
was built on his land, and that part ownership should fall to him. What followed
was a court case, presided over by Mr.
Justice Patteson of Staffordshire in the year 1850.
It was eventually ruled that because the boundary cut through the land that
the summer house was built on, that both parties should share the building,
and the cost of its upkeep. The public was to have free access as before except
on Sundays at the time of divine service, at this time it should remain locked.
By the end of the 19th century, the house had once more fell into
disrepair, the windows and doors had gone and all the turf that had once been
"Soft as velvet to the feet", had been washed away. At about this time, the postmaster off Scholar Green. Mr. G H Morris decided to measure the castle and archway.
In 1923 the castle
and all the surrounding lands (including the Old Man OMow) were purchased
from the Late Sir Philip Baker-Wilbraham and the Bishop of Derby,
who were the Lords of the Manor on the Cheshire side, for the purpose of quarrying,
by a Mr. Joe Lovatt
The land and the castle had been commonly used for many years, and people from near and far were furious that firstly the land had been sold, and secondly that is was to be quarried. Joe Lovatt offered the Castle and a ½ acre of land for public use, if the public would repair the castle. The offer was refused, as the people firmly believed that no one had a right to quarry the land they had used for many years. Joe Lovatt carried about his business and many thousand of tons of rock were removed, including all the old stone heaps that had built up over the years. The people backed by their MP formed the Mow Cop preservation committee. In September 1923 a meeting of 500 protesters and 50 committee members marched on the quarry and pulled down loose stone walls, wire fences and even up turned a stone crusher. It was done in a civilised manner, and as time went by, the crowds got less, the committees changed and many solicitors letters went back and forth.
Eventually the quarrying stopped and in the month of June 1937, the deeds for the Castle and surrounding lands were handed over to the National Trust, in front of a large crowd, as in the picture on the left. The saga had come to an end. The castle was repaired to its present day condition, with a large V shaped section missing where one of the windows had collapsed, and a large section of the buttress wall missing. One has to ask the question however why did that part of the castle collapse. One theory offered was that it was caused by the vibration of quarrying work, another explantion was offered that it fell on its own at the end of WW1 as a V for victory.
There was in the Castle a large stone with the letters CEST carved into it. Just what the inscription means I as yet do not know. The stone was coincidentaly in the position where the alleged collapse took place. Did a stone mason or any one else for that matter decide they would like that stone for another job. If anyone sees a large stone in the area or in fact anywhere with CEST on I would be interested to here from them. More work was carried out in 1999 when National Trust decided to protect people from themselves and make sure no one could enter the Castle and sit in the windows and fire place, iron bars were added and large iron gate door was padlocked shut.
At the end of August 2002 scaffolding
started to go up around the castle, the process has taken over 4 weeks, this
time scale is easily justified when you consider the amount of scaffolding
required and the location to which it has to be carried.