Chirk Castle

Record ID:  40001 / MNA132553
Record type:  Building
Protected Status: Listed Building: Grade I, World Heritage Site
NT Property:  Chirk Castle; Wales
Civil Parish:  Chirk; Wrecsam - Wrexham
Grid Reference:  SJ 2684 3806
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Summary

Chirk is an imposing medieval castle overlooking rolling parkland and the steep wooded slopes of the Ceiriog Valley. Although the exact date of construction is unknown the evidence of style and historic factors suggests that building commenced in 1295 (N.T. Guide Book, 1983). The only section of the castle to retain any original features is the western range. The south range dates to the early 16th century. The north range was added sometime after 1595.

Identification Images (1)

Chirk Castle, East elevation © National Trust
Chirk Castle, East elevation © National Trust

Monument Types

  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Description

An imposing medieval castle overlooking rolling parkland and the steep wooded slopes of the Ceiriog Valley. The NWt and NE corners of this rectangular structure consist of massive drum towers. In between is a semi-circular tower and similar shaped towers can be found at the SE and SW corners. This layout suggests that the original structure consisted of a parallelogram orientated north south with a drum tower at each corner and a semi-tower inbetween.

Although the exact date of construction is unknown the evidence of style and historic factors suggests that building commenced in 1295 (N.T. Guide Book, 1983, 40). Nothing remains of the presumed southern wall which may never have been completed. The only section of the castle to retain any original features is the western range where rooms are contained within the thickness os the fifteen foot wide curtain wall. The watch tower on top of Adam's Tower in the south-west corner is interpreted as evidence that the towers were originally higher. I is suggested that all were levelled to the height of the curtain wall during the Civil War when the castle was bombarded.

The south range dates to the early 16th century. A small hall, with possible kitchen, brewhouse, long dining room and gable bedrooms were built between Adam's Tower in the south-west and the late 14th or early 15th century chapel in the south-east. The valleys between the gables of the top floor were filled in during the 17th century to create a parapet walk.

Sir Thomas Myddleton, whose descendants occupied the castle until 1978, added the north range sometime after he acquired the castle in 1595. A new hall, buttery, kitchen, dining room and drawing room were built but various alterations over the subsequent centuries have modified the original design. The entrance hall or Cromwell's Hall, originally a servants hall, was transformed to a neo-classical entrance hall in the 1760's and 1770's. The victorian architect A.W. Pugin, however, sought to recreate a "medieval atmosphere" by inserting oak panelling and a massive fireplace. The staircase, first-floor dining room, saloon and drawing room were also modified by neo-classical additions which were again later altered by Pugin. however, during the 20th century the Myddleton family recreated the lightness of the 18th century by removing the dark colours recommended by Pugin. Photographs in the N.M.R. at Aberystwyth record the Pugin design for the staircase and dining room. Civil War hostilities led to the destruction of much of the eastern side of the castle. The reconstructed range consisted of a long gallery above a terraced walk fronted by a seven arched colonnade. The long gallery seen today is similar to the original design though the ceiling is actually victorian, designed again by Pugin. The same architect is responsible for the present-day gothic facade of the eastern range. The terraced walk was enclosed in the 1820's and a series of rooms laid out. Pugin designed suitable gothic interiors for these rooms in the 1840's though again the 20th century Myddletons reverted to light colours. His son, E.W. Pugin, refaced the 18th century stable block behind the southern range and built the turreted wall which defines the southern approach to the castle.

References

  • SNA64932 - Report: 1993. Report on the survey of the north elevation of the courtyard (western end).

  • SNA67202 - Report: Engineering Archaeological Services Ltd (EAS). 2009. Chirk Castle archaeological watching brief.

  • SNA67213 - Report: C J Arnold. 1990. Report on the survey of the south elevation of the courtyard of Chirk Castle.

  • SNA67214 - Report: C J Arnold. 1992. Archaeological observations made during repairs to walls of Chirk Castle.

  • SNA67215 - Report: C J Arnold. 1990. Report on the excavation of Offa's Dyke.

  • SNA67216 - Report: C J Arnold. 1993-1994. Report on the survey of the north elevation of the courtyard of Chirk Castle.

  • SNA67217 - Report: C J Arnold. 1991. Report on the archaeological surveys and watching brief dec 1990 - feb 91.

  • SZO18300 - Slide: Emma Plunkett Dillon. 01/02/1988. Chirk Castle. 40001B.

  • SZO33616 - Slide: Emma Plunkett Dillon. 01/02/1988. Chirk Castle(distant view). 40001A.

  • SZO45790 - Slide: Emma Plunkett Dillon. 01/02/1988. Chirk Castle (showing arched doorway). 40001C.

  • SZO50085 - National Trust Report: Emma Plunkett-Dillon & John Latham. 1988. Chirk Castle - The National Trust Archaeological Survey.

Designations

  • Listed Building (Grade I): CHIRK CASTLE (DG)
  • World Heritage Site: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal (1000106)

Other Statuses and References

  • Country Park
  • National Monuments Record Reference: OSSJ23NE/3

Associated Events

  • ENA3017 - Field Survey, Chirk Castle - The National Trust Archaeological Survey 1988
  • ENA6351 - Field Survey, Report on Survey of the walls of Chirk Castle
  • ENA6352 - Field Survey, Chirk Castle, pleasure ground wood gamekeeper's hut
  • ENA7858 - Field Survey, Archaeological Review and Monitoring Survey
  • ENA8708 - Field Survey, Chirk Castle Community Archaeology Pilot
  • ENA8731 - Non Archaeological Intervention, Chirk Castle archaeological watching brief

Associated Finds

None Recorded

Related Records

None Recorded