Greenhalgh Castle was built in the late fifteenth century on lands confiscated from a former supporter of Richard III. During the Civil War it was a key Royalist outpost in Lancashire and was subjected to a protracted siege after which it was slighted to prevent further military use.
Richard III, final Yorkist King of England, was defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485) resulting in a regime change. Henry Tudor took the throne prompting hard-line Yorkists to flee abroad including one James Harrington, then owner of Greenhalgh Manor. The exiles invaded in 1487 proclaiming a boy, Lambert Simnell, as one of the 'lost' Princes in the Tower but they were defeated by an army headed by Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby at the Battle of Stokes Field (1487). As a reward he was subsequently granted lands from some of the dispossessed lords including those of James Harrington. The Earl was granted a licence to crenellate in 1490 and he commenced construction of Greenhalgh Castle soon after. The new castle was built on the site of a former manor house and its function was to administer the Earl's new estates in central Lancashire. It is unlikely it was ever intended as a Lordly residence.
The site occupied a knoll of high ground surrounded by marsh with only a narrow causeway connecting it to firmer land. This made the site easily defendable which was clearly a key factor in determining the location of both the earlier manor house and the castle. With the construction of the latter, the knoll was artificially scarped to create a square platform. The castle occupied this entire space with a quadrangular curtain wall protected in each corner by a square tower. The eastern turret incorporated the gatehouse. The confined space defined by the marsh meant Greenhalgh Castle had no outer bailey.
During the Civil War the castle was owned by James Stanley, Earl of Derby. He supported Charles I and garrisoned his estates accordingly. He spent much of the early war attempting to secure control of Lancashire where he successfully took Preston and Warrington but failed to take Bolton, Lancaster or Manchester. Ultimately however Parliament gained the upper hand in Lancashire – by June 1643 only Greenhalgh and Lathom House, both estates owned by Stanley, were the last Royalist held estates in the county. Greenhalgh Castle was placed under siege by Colonel George Dodding and Major Joseph Rigby but a determined defence was undertaken by Christopher Anderton of Lostock. Attempts to undermine the castle failed whilst the garrison made frequent sorties against the Parliamentary lines. Meanwhile the Earl fought with Prince Rupert until his defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor (1644) after which he retired to his estates on the Isle of Man. Parliamentary representatives entered into negotiations with him for a pardon, subject to Greenhalgh and Lathom surrendering. Stanley refused and Greenhalgh remained a defiant Royalist outpost until the death of Christopher Anderton after which the garrison surrendered on good terms. Lathom House, by then the only Royalist outpost in Lancashire, surrendered in December 1645. Stanley would later support Charles II during the Third Civil War and was later executed in Bolton for treason.
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Greenhalgh Castle consists of the remains of one tower and some earthworks. The ruins are on private land with no public access permitted but there is an information board and the remains can be seen from the road.
Greenhalgh Castle. Greenhalgh was a quadrangular castle built upon a square platform surrounded by marshy ground.
Greenhalgh Castle is found off Castle Lane which is accessed via the B6430 to the south of Garstang. It is not sign-posted and the last 300 metres to the castle is a private road with restricted vehicular access (there is a public right of way for pedestrians). There is a lay-by at the point where the public road ends with sufficient space for a couple of cars.
Car Parking Option