Liverpool Castle


Castle Street is what it was,
a street leading to our once formidable Castle,
built by John the father of our city
to suppress the rebellious Irish
over whom he assumed sovereignty.

King John designed it in the shape of an 'H'
maybe in honour of Henry Fitzwilliam
whom he bought the land from.
Its massive walls of sandstone
were hewn and transported by horse and cart
from local quarries.

Five towers dominated its skyline,
giving excellent defence,
as attackers from the river were but a bowshot away.
Within stood: a Brewery to revive the spirit,
Bakery to sustain it and Chapel to nurture it.
A self-contained world.
Outside lay a tended orchard,
not much scrumping there it's said,
but obvious enough an attempt
to give a garrison its five portions of fruit a day.

For over three hundred years Liverpool Castle
survived without much tremor
(which would take you and I back to a time
from now when footpads were on the loose
and men and woman wore periwigs.)

Till one day the Scousers surprisingly
made a losing bet by supporting a General
who was to reduce them to their Barebones
and no matter how loud they did protest
lost to the cavalier attentions of Prince Rupert,
who bombarded them with cannon from Lime St
whilst sneakily attacking down Hall Street.

The Castle surrendered
and that was the beginning of its demise
as Charles II arranged for its partial dismantle.
But King Billy himself took charge
using what remained for a campaign
against the still rebellious Irish,
till good old George I authorised its removal
and in 1902 the City Council
replaced its sad remains with a statue
of our glorious sovereign-head of the British Empire.

Difficult now to imagine,
as you walk past stiff-shirted defendants
huddled outside the Crown Courts
or push your way through young Emos
nestling between the skirts of Queen Victoria,
that here lay an enormous edifice as big as Harlech Castle,
sat like Gormenghast towering above the surrounding hovels.
Difficult to empathise with medieval peasants
dutifully queuing to pay their taxes at Tithebarne House,
or hear the lilt of flute as jugglers and Morris Dancers make merry,
adding to the fol de rol of feastdays and high days.

But you may occasionally,
whilst in Andrew Collinge having your hair coiffured,
or grabbing a sandwich from Mangetout,
look out
and see a ghostly arrow whistling through the air,
from shadowy archers showing they still have bow fingers
and hear the thump of cannon as Cavaliers,
with wide blown hats and flowing locks,
charge past your window.

Castle Street, Castle Street,
you must really miss your Castle.

By Evelyn Mason