Step back in time and explore a piece of history with an intriguing twist. Liverpool Castle is not your typical ancient castle but a scaled replica of Merseyside’s 13th-century stronghold. This beautiful folly has become an iconic landmark of Lancashire, captivating locals and visitors alike.
A Rich History
Despite its name, Liverpool Castle is situated in Rivington, near Horwich, Bolton. It is 25 miles away from its namesake city. It was designed to replicate the original medieval castle on Liverpool’s waterfront.
The castle was commissioned in 1912 by William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme), a philanthropist and the founder of Lever Brothers (now Unilever). It is a folly and was never intended to be completed. It was meant to look like a ruin that had stood for years.
After reading an article by historian Edward Cox about the original castle, Lever was struck by the similarities in the location described in the piece and a promontory on the eastern bank of Lower Rivington Reservoir, known as Coblowe. Lever deduced that Coblowe would be a great location to reconstruct the Liverpool fortress.
Work on the project was slow, with only a handful of labourers allocated to it. Construction work ceased when William Lever died in 1925. Although it was always intended to be a replica of a ruined castle, it never reached the state of completion he envisaged.
The incompletion of the structure adds to its allure and mystique. It appears very authentic, despite being a relatively modern building.
Walks – Nature Trails and History
Rivington is one of the best areas for walking in North West England.
Several other paths through Lever Park lead to the castle. Our walk around Rivington takes in the Liverpool Castle replica plus Lower Rivington Reservoir, Rivington Hall Barn, Rivington Hall, the Great House Barn Tea Room and Gift Shop, and the Great House Information Centre (United Utilities).
Design of Liverpool Castle
The replica castle was built using gritstone. It was designed to look like the ruins of Liverpool Castle as it was in the period after the English Civil War.
A barbican (fortified gateway) is located at one corner of the castle. The ruins of two towers flank it. The gateway is where visitors enter the attraction today.
There are three round towers at the other corners. Curtain (defensive) walls connect the towers and gatehouse.
The Great Tower was the castle’s keep. The keep served as a stronghold and last line of defence. Castle keeps typically housed the living quarters of the lord and their family. The stairs to the first floor have now been removed for safety reasons.
A chapel and dining hall (Great Hall) are attached to the Prison Tower. A spiral staircase leading to the first floor has now collapsed.
There’s no admission fee to enter the castle. United Utilities own the site. It is accessible at all times.
Signs around the site advise visitors not to climb the walls of the castle ruins. Whenever we’ve visited, there’s nearly always been a handful of kids taking no notice of the guidance. Well-behaved children seem happy to explore the castle’s keep, towers, passages, nooks and crannies. Illegal night-time raves and parties here are not unheard of.
Location of Liverpool Castle – Finding Your Way
The replica of Liverpool Castle is located in Lever Park, Rivington. It is near Horwich, in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton.
The quickest way to get to the castle is to drive to the car park on Rivington Lane (just north of Rivington and Blackrod High School – postcode BL6 7RU). Parking is free. The castle can be reached from here by following a 700-yard, tree-lined footpath. It’s a picturesque walk and doesn’t take long.
Liverpool Castle Rivington: Photography
The site is popular with local photographers and models. The majestic ruins frequently appear on their Instagram profiles.
The Original Liverpool Castle: History
The original Liverpool Castle was built in the early 13th century. King John of England commissioned it to secure the newly established port town of Liverpool. The castle was situated on a hill overlooking the River Mersey, giving it an excellent vantage point for monitoring and protecting the region’s burgeoning maritime trade.
The castle featured a barbican (fortified gateway) at one corner flanked by two towers, three round corner towers at the other corners, and a robust curtain wall. These defensive elements were essential for safeguarding the castle from potential threats.
Over the centuries, Liverpool Castle played a significant role in several historical events. During the English Civil War (1642 to 1652), the castle was the site of battles between the Royalists and Parliamentarians.
By the early 18th century, the castle had fallen into ruins and hindered the city’s development. In 1704 the Corporation of Liverpool obtained a fifty-year lease from the Crown that included the power to demolish the ruins. Disputes with the hereditary constable of the castle delayed its complete demolition until 1726.
Following the castle’s demolition, St. George’s Church was built on the site and consecrated in 1734. However, due to dwindling congregations, the church was demolished in 1899.
1n 1902 the Queen Victoria Monument was built on the site, now called Derby Square, to celebrate the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901). It is close to the Liverpool One shopping and leisure complex and Liverpool James Street Station.
Rivington boasts a large number of attractions and things to do.
Hungry history buffs will appreciate the Great House Barn. This historic structure is now a popular cafe. Rivington Terraced Gardens is a delightful area with many captivating features. It serves as the gateway to Rivington Pike.