Mow Cop Castle – Mow Cop, England - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Mow Cop, England

Mow Cop Castle

This crumbling folly looks like an enchanted left over from Middle Earth. 

Sitting atop a rocky promontory just outside a small English village is what appears to be the ruins of some medieval stronghold, but Mow Cop Castle is actually the work of a much more modern rich person. 

Hollywood set designers bend over backwards to create fantasy ruins in films, but it usually takes a wealthy eccentric to create the real thing. Such was the case when Randle Wilbraham, a member of the landed gentry living in nearby Rode Hall, built Mow Cop Castle in 1754. The folly was built as a summer home for Wilbraham, with the added benefit of providing a beautiful sight that could be seen from Rode Hall. Despite not being as old as it looks, the castle was designed to look like the ruins of a bygone medieval castle. Wilbraham could bring guests for outings at his fantastical little piece of fake history. 

While it looks like the remains of a much larger castle, the folly was built to seem like ruins, and only has the one main tower, and the free-standing arch at its side. Even if it’s not a piece of medieval history, the castle has been marked as a protected historical site (it is over 250 years old), so it won’t be crumbling any more than it already LOOKS like it has.

Mow Cop Castle, a popular local landmark, used to be open to the public, but after someone committed suicide at the site, a fence was erected to keep people out. It’s a shame that it is no longer freely accessible, but the look of the castle from afar is possibly its finest feature.