History of Leasowe Castle
Leasowe Castle was originally built in 1593 by Ferdinand, 5th Earl of Derby, second heir to the English throne. Named "New Hall", it consisted only of an octagonal tower. The door was about six feet above ground level, for security and protection from high tides; the walls were one metre thick.
The Earls of Derby were kings of the Isle of Man between 1407 and 1735 and a stone bearing the date 1593 and the "Three Legs" emblem of the Isle of Man was removed from the Castle and is now displayed at the Williamson Museum and Art Gallery in Birkenhead.
It is thought that "New Hall" was built for sporting activities, hawking and a viewpoint for horse racing for which Wallasey was well known. The lower portion could have been used as a stable. Turrets were added later, possibly by William the 6th Earl. It is said that the Castle has had many famous guests including members of the Stuart family and King William III, who stayed overnight before boarding a ship to Ireland, an expedition which ended in the battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Over the years the Castle's owners have added extra towers, wings, turrets and outbuildings but towards the end of the 17th Century the Castle became derelict and acquired the name "Mock beggar Hall", a name given to any deserted or lonely building.
Robert Harrison acquired the building in 1786 and then in 1802 it passed to Margaret Boode, daughter of the Rector of Liverpool and friend of the shipwrecked. She was tragically killed in an accident in Wallasey in 1826 and her son-in-law Sir Edward Cust became the new occupant, attempting unsuccessfully to turn the Castle into an hotel and residing here on and off until his death in 1878.
During this time the building was converted into a home. Alterations included the erection of a perimeter wall; a new entrance and oak from the submerged forest of Meols brought to the library. In 1836 Sir Edward Cust purchased some paneling from the old Exchange Buildings which were to be demolished.
There was a Star Chamber, so called because the ceiling was decorated with bright stars so convicts could gaze up at them when sentenced at the Court of Westminster. He brought this to the Castle and it still remains in our Star Chamber along with four beautiful tapestries depicting the four seasons.
A fine stone and iron staircase dominates the entrance hall, the renowned "Battle Staircase" so called because of the named plates of famous British battles set into the wrought iron rails. Erected by Sir Edward, the handrails also show dates, battles, the reigning Sovereign and Generals in command of the troops. He was probably responsible for "Canute's Chair", a huge oak seat which stood on the sea wall above high water mark. The chair, which bore the inscription "Sea came not hither nor wet the sole of my foot", disappeared some 25 years ago.
After the death of Sir Edward the Castle passed through several members of the family until it became Leasowe Castle Hotel in 1891. It was bought by the trustees of the railway Convalescence Homes in 1910 and except for a short time during the First World War, when it accommodated German prisoners, it was occupied by retired railway men until to 1970. It again stood derelict as it had some 300 years before; a 20th Century Mock Beggar until in 1982 when it was purchased by a local businessman and restored as one of the finest hotels in Wirral and a conference centre. The Castle is now owned by Lawton Hotels Ltd who have refurbished it in keeping with its great history and character.