Greenhalgh Castle was owned by Earl James Stanley, a committed Royalist loyal to King Charles I. He was the foremost landholding aristocrat in Lancashire and also owned other fortified properties at Lathom, Hornby and Thurlam, all of which would be attacked during the Civil War.
His castle at Greenhalgh near Garstang was held for him by Captain Nicolas Anderton of Lostock. The town of Garstang was very Catholic, and the fact that the captain had trained as a Catholic priest in Europe would have only boosted their support for the garrison.
This support would have been lacking for the occupying forces of Parliament who took up residence in the town in order to besiege the castle in August 1645. This was led by Colonel Dodding and his Furness Cavalry, and Major Joseph Rigby. At first the Parliamentarians were armed with little more than their own rifles, having no cannons, meaning that their siege was not terribly effective.
The besiegers themselves were very vulnerable to attack from Captain Anderton’s garrison, which would venture out of the castle and attack them. The Parliamentarians attempt to undermine the castle failed miserably, as the sandy soil would not allow an effective tunnel to be dug.
The Royalists seemed to lose heart when Captain Anderton died, and no longer felt they were able to carry on holding on to the castle. They began to negotiate to surrender, and their terms were accepted in June 1645. Surprisingly, they were allowed to return to their homes without arrest or imprisonment.
The Parliamentarians wasted no time in demolishing the castle to make sure it could not be occupied again. Today, only one ruined tower still stands, but the site is worth a visit. There is no public access to the castle but you can still get quite a good look from the road and nearby footpaths.
ABOVE: Greenhalgh Castle as seen from Castle Road.
BELOW: The only remaining stonework still standing is one of the ruined towers
ABOVE: One of the interpretation boards near the castle
To read more about the history of Greenhalgh Castle, see this page on our companion website of
Lancashire Past here: https://lancashirepast.com/2020/04/18/greenhalgh-castle-garstang/
Greenhalgh Castle Garstang and The Earls of Derby, Ernest Collinson (1993). Published by the author, printed by Colin Cross, Garstang. Copies are available second hand.
The Civil Wars in Lancashire 1640-1660, Stephen Bull (2009) Carnegie
Interpretation board close to site of the castle. Note the dates on the board are wrong – the Civil War occurred in the 1600s, not the 1800s as stated on the board.