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Castle Hill Motte – Recent History

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Castle Hill Motte – Recent History

Since the castle buildings, which were probably built of timber, disappeared in the later middle Ages, this flat-topped mound has served many purposes.

The flat top of the Motte has proved ideal for activities such as open-air dancing and bowls.

Victoria Golden Jubilee Year Soiree – 22nd August 1887
On Monday the annual soiree of the Malpas Social Club and Institute was held.

Tea was as usual, provided in a tent in the croft adjoining the Wyvern Hotel, and afterwards dancing took place on the romantic Castle Mound, which is in close proximity.

A large number were present to tea and they were afterwards greatly augmented at the dancing, the latter being kept up with vigour to the strains of Nantwich Brass band.
Whitchurch Herald Extract
27th August 1887

Shortly afterwards the Social Club and Institute moved into the brand new Jubilee Hall, opened in 1888.

Malpas Friendly Societies and Malpas Town Band
In the ninety century, Castle Hill often hosted annual parades and gatherings of the Malpas Friendly societies. See this link fore more information

Pilgrimages in Cheshire and Shropshire (1901)
The grass-grown site of the dungeon and castle of the Norman Baron is reserved as a place on which village maidens may dance and play.

Sports and Dance
Saturday 23rd May 1903
Advert for Sports and dance
On Whit-Mon June 1st to commence at 2:30 pm.
The Whixall Band will play for dancing on Castle Hill from 5:00 pm
Tickets 1s Each
H. Eaton Mercer, Hon Sec.

sports and dance 2


Ladies Club
Saturday 27th June 1903
The Malpas Ladies Club was one of the four Malpas Friendly Societies.

The anniversary of the Malpas Ladies Club was held on Castle Hill on Thursday evening (18th June 1903)
The Whixall Silver Band was engaged for the occasion and discoursed some good music on the Cross during the afternoon.
Dancing commenced at 5:30pm and continued until dark.

The weather was dull and of a threatening character, but notwithstanding this there was a capital attendance and a good gate was realised in aid of the Rose Club funds.

The arrangements were efficiently carried out by the stewards of the club, namely Messre H.E. Mercer, E. Bebbington and J.T. Jones.

Malpas Ladies Bowling Club was originally situated at the top of the Malpas Recreation Ground next to Love Lane.

The date when this was formed is unrecorded but it was probably before they had a bowling green on the Castle Hill.

malpas ladiers bowling club

In the 1940's/50's the Recreation ground site served as a mixed gender Tennis Club complete with Pavilion.

The flat tops of castle mottes also served as ideal sites for bowling greens and examples can be found all along the border with Wales, at places such as Clun and Bishop's Castle as well as Malpas.

In 1939 a new Ladies' Bowling Club was formed to play on the Malpas Motte, recorded in the following report from the 'Whitchurch Herald'.

cast hill bowls entrance
Maintenance entrance to Castle Hill Motte

The picture above shows the only remains of that bowling club, an area cut out of the hillside where a small booth was built to house the lady who took money for use of the green, and for hiring bowls.

This report appeared on 1st September, two days before Britain declared war on Germany.

A very interesting knock-out competition took place with the new bowling club, on Tuesday evening.

The prizes had been kindly given by Mrs Cooper, the president, who also distributed them to the successful winners, these being 1. Mrs. L. Taylor; 2. Miss Ada Purcell.

Refreshments were served by Mrs L. Edge and Miss hales.

Whitchurch Herald extract
1st September 1939

The Malpas Bowling Club developed its own bowling green at the foot of the Castle Hill, and this was opened with a small pavilion in 1959

new pavillion

New pavilion in 1980 with Castle Hill in the background.

Today, Malpas is a peaceful place, but reminders of less settled times are present for the visitor to explore, starting with the hummock behind the church.

This is the remains of a Norman Motte and bailey castle and you can climb to its summit – at the time of writing it is quite a clamber but there are plans to improve access and provide a gradual ascent.

From the top, it's easy to understand why Malpas was part of a surveillance network, along with Oldcastle and Shocklach, for preventing raids on the surrounding fertile farmlands, because the views into Wales are far-reaching. (It is quite shocking to discover that this historic plot was dug into in the 1830s and used as a reservoir to supply the community with piped water.)

Article posted July 2023 by Chris Whitehurst.
Acknowledgement Bill Coffin and David Hayns

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