|The view from the top. The white dot just about visible in the middle is the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank|
There had been a hillfort at Beeston in the Iron Age but in the 1220s a castle was begun on the crag by Ranulf de Blundeville, the same Earl of Chester who, some will recall, had been saved from a siege by the musitioners of Chester and whereby the tradition of the Minstrels' Court began.
Inside the inner bailey is a well, just as you expect to find in a castle. But, with the location of the castle atop this rock, it is very deep, the deepest in Cheshire and one of the deepest castle wells in England. It is supposed to reach down 365 feet which, being the same number of feet deep as days in a year, seems to have been picked to give the well more of a mythic quality. And it does have a legend associated with it...
In 1399, King Richard II who was much beloved in Cheshire, though not well supported in the rest of his kingdom, travelled from Chester to Ireland in an attempt to reassert his authority there. Before leaving he hid his Royal treasure at the bottom of the well at Beeston. When Richard returned from Ireland via Wales he met with a challenge to the throne from his cousin Henry Bolingbroke and was imprisoned, deposed and eventually starved to death at Pontefract Castle, (he presumably didn't find the stash of liquorice there). But the treasure was left unclaimed at the bottom of Beeston Castle well and some say it is still there, guarded by a demon.
|Richard II, accompanied by his bodyguard of Cheshire Archers, riding through Chester's Water Gate en route to Ireland|
We made our way back down the hill faster than we might otherwise have done, and looking back behind us a fair few times. Although we made light of it, saying it was probably an angry badger at the bottom, it was a little unsettling at the time. Now, it was most likely the distorted echo of the coin falling to the bottom, and our ears getting attuned to it so it seemed to grow louder, but I can certainly see how this could seem like there is a demon in the well. And if enough people have done what I did, there certainly will be a great treasure at the bottom of the well.