West Derby was once home to a motte and bailey castle - a wooden fort on a raised earthwork (“motte”) accompanied by an enclosed courtyard (“bailey”), surrounded by a protective ditch/moat and wooden wall. West Derby Castle was built circa 1100 by the Anglo-Norman aristocrat Roger the Poitevin to whom the manor of West Derby passed from Edward the Confessor. Documents dating from 1213 record a garrison in the castle of one hundred and forty foot soldiers, ten Knights and ten Crossbow men. The castle fell into disuse at some point during the 13th century and, because of its wooden construction, soon weathered, rotted and disappeared. During the early 19th century the then Lord of the Manor Mr. Gascoigne had the motte and bailey levelled though their former positions remained discernible well into the twentieth century. Today the West Derby castle site is a small park whose surrounding thoroughfares – Castleview Road, Castlesite Road, The Armoury and Castle Keep – are all that hints at the fortifications former presence.
The Castle of Liverpool was built circa 1230 under the orders of the Earl of Derby, William de Ferrer, during the reign of Henry III. The castle stood at the junction of today’s Castle Street (which follows the line of the long vanished channel or “pool” after which Liverpool is named) and Lord Street in the city centre. In the Inspeximus Roll of Edward III of 1347 the castle was described as possessing “four towers, a hall, chamber, chapel, brewhouse and bakehouse, a wall therein, also the herbage of the fosse, a certain orchard, dovecot etc.” The site is now known as Derby Square and is occupied by the Queen Victoria Monument, erected in 1906. A metal plaque on the monument shows a depiction of the castle and reads “ON THIS SITE FORMERLY STOOD THE CASTLE OF LIVERPOOL”.
Liverpool castle fell under the control of Royalist Cavaliers during the English Civil War, following an eighteen day siege by Prince Rupert – The Mad Cavalier. Rupert was famously accompanied in to battle many times by a fearsome poodle named Boye. It was claimed by the Roundheads that the beast was in fact a magical familiar with protective supernatural powers. The dog is alleged to have been impervious to blades and even caught bullets intended for Rupert in his teeth. Boye was eventually shot and killed (with a silver bullet according to one online source) at the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644. The battle was a turning point in the war; the Cavaliers losing control of most of the north of the country as a result of their defeat. It was obvious to many that Rupert’s magic was undone as a result of Boye’s death.
The Castle of Liverpool having fallen into disrepair, an act was passed in 1715 to demolish it and to erect a church on the land. The last vestiges of the castle were cleared away in 1726. Surprisingly, however, a modern day visit to The Castle of Liverpool is not entirely out of the question. A scaled down replica of its ruins as they (might have) appeared circa 1700 exists some thirty miles (48 km) north east of the original site in the village of Rivington, Chorley. The perhaps slightly fanciful Gothic reproduction is known as Lever Castle.