there gold in them there Cheshire hills?
The mystery of a king’s missing millions at Beeston
BEESTON Castle has been knocked about a bit during the past 700
years, but so far nothing has persuaded the historic pile to reveal
its most intimate secret... is there gold and silver in them there
hills ? Somewhere in the Beeston ruins, perched 500ft above the
Cheshire Plain, there could be a vast fortune.
Legend has it that shortly before the end of his reign, King Richard
II chose Beeston as a safe repository for his personal fortune of
“100,000 marks in gold coin and 100,000 marks in other precious
Documentation from the 16th century suggests that some of the priceless
artifacts included pieces such as a gold quadrant in a leather case,
a golden reindeer lying on a green, a gold stag under a tree, a
white helmet of St George, white hart brooches, cups and jewellery.
Today it could all be worth over £200 million !
One story claims that Richard stored his treasure at Beeston before
leaving from Chester on an expedition to Ireland in 1399, the year
of his death, and that he hid his fortune in the castle’s
360ft. deep well which apparently contains a number of passages.
It is said that when Richard returned from Ireland he was taken
prisoner and thrown into the gaol of Flint Castle by the forces
of Henry Bolinbroke, the Duke of Lancaster, later Henry IV. The
garrison at Beeston surrendered and Bolinbroke made off with the
Another stab at the truth apparently surrounds old documents which
were written in Norman French and point towards Holt Castle, rather
than Beeston, as the resting place of Richard’s treasure.
Be that as it may, many have tried to solve the mystery of Beeston
and if there really is treasure buried in the murky depths of the
well then not a single trace has ever surfaced, despite the use
of sophisticated ultra-sonic probes, seismo meters and magnetic
Two attempts to clear the well, in 1842 and 1935, also proved inconclusive
although the latter exploration revealed some interesting facts.
The explorers found entrances to what might possibly have been three
passages, but these intrepid men only reached 339ft. and they believed
that there was a fourth undiscovered passage at about 350ft.
Meanwhile, Beeston Castle stands as a silent testimony to the ravages
of English history. Built in the 13th century by Ranulf de Blundeville,
6th Earl of Chester, it was by the 16th century, according to John
Leland, court antiquarian to Henry VIII, in a ruinous condition.
It was not until the Civil War that Beeston Castle was first used
in anger. Garrisoned by a Parliamentarian force of 300 men, it was
taken in 1643. A Royalist captain with eight brave men scaled the
walls at night and threw open the gates. It was then held by the
Royalists until, after a prolonged siege, they were starved out
In the 18th century much of the castle’s stonework was plundered
to “... build causeways through Cheshire”. At the same
time the hill was extensively quarried. However, since 1959 the
castle has been protected by English Heritage and is now open to
the public on most days of the year.
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