As I have been going through my entries with a fine tooth comb I’ve discovered a few gaps in my information or have been too brief but you’ll forgive me that error if I bring you up-to-date won’t you? It seems that when I covered Cumberland I only mentioned Appleby Castle. I had a photo of legendary Pendragon Castle displayed in the album but I haven’t told you anything about Pendragon yet! Somehow Yanwath Hall and Dacre Castle got past me and I have recently added photos to the Cumberland photo album ( some wonderful shots of Carlisle Castle! ) that have needed to be put in for more than a year ! Today I am going to change all that- read on- and check out the new photos! – The Castle Lady
In the deepest part of the vale of Eden, Appleby Castle on the upper portion of the city of Boroughgate is a magnificently well kept castle. Since Norman times the castle has been surrounded by 25 acres of parkland and the walks, wild life and trees are wonderful. The dwelling portion which sits outside the castle keep was built in the late 17th century by Lady Anne Clifford’s grandson, the Earl of Thanet and the Great Hall is filled with paintings and furnishings from his era.
The original keep, known as Caesar’s Tower is the oldest part and the most impressive, as it is a very tall pele tower from the top of which you will get impressive views of Cumbria in all directions. Appleby features moats marking the inner and outer baileys. The photos in the Cumberland album I have of Appleby were taken from this tower and there is a wonderful aerial view of the entire property.
This castle was the stronghold of the Clifford Lords and was at one time owned by the Kings of England. It was once seized by the Scottish crown but it belonged ultimately in the hands of William II from 1092 on and remained in royal hands, eventually receiving restoration from Lady Anne Clifford in her time.
Pendragon Castle is believed to have been the castle of Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father. It sits next to the River Eden in the Vale of Mallerstang in proximity to Appleby and Brough (all Clifford castles!) According to legend , he and a hundred of his men were killed there when Saxon invaders poisoned the well. There is genuine speculation that a temporary Roman fort was built in the same spot, but apparently there was no evidence that any building took place before the Normans built their castle in the 12th century, on the direction of Hugh de Morville.
At any rate, Pendragon came into possession of the Cliffords and suffered quite a bit of conflict. Scottish raids left the castle in partial ruins twice- first in 1341 when they set fire to it. After a brief abandonment, it was rebuilt in 1360. In 1541 it was again attacked by burning and was not restored until mid-17th century when the dear Lady Anne Clifford rescued it. Since her death it was left to gradual ruination but what remains- portions of the great pele tower, remnants of the mural passaging and evidence of angle buttresses- will definitely interest genuine castle enthusiasts. Note: Even though Pendragon is still privately owned, there is public access but it is potentially dangerous to personally visit the site. Most of the ruined base is in disrepair and caution is advisable.
Two miles south of Penrith Castle, Yanwath Hall which was built on a bluff overlooking the Eamont, is a three storey pele tower, the remains of a hall, with Tudor windows and has four turrets, with the original 14th century octagonal chimney. (An unusual feature.) It is a courtyard configured fortified house of great size which has great views of the Cumbrian fells which you can see from the top of the tower. Thomas Marshall, a 17th century historian has been quoted as saying of it," (Yanwath) hath a delicate prospect when you are at it, and hath the grace of a little castle when you depart from it." Yanwath was owned by John de Sutton through the 14th century at the end of which the Threlkeld family acquired the estate and restored parts of it, adding a bay window, and giving it Elizabethan grace. From 1671 it has been a farm which was started by the Lowthers.
Under Edward II no undefended house was safe so fortified structures were placed for a reason. I have read several accounts that castles in Cumbria had their worst years during the 14th century because of the border threat but from additional historical reading I have found that sieges took place almost from their inception during Roman occupation and even afterward. Even castles like Brougham Castle had to be radically reconstructed and- in Brougham’s case- early in the fourteenth century with a new outer gatehouse combining the keep with an inner gatehouse to produce one of the most formidable entrance -systems at the time, similar to Dunstanburgh in Northumberland. It was just south of Penrith, at the confluence of Lowther and Eamont Rivers with a keep which was typical from Henry IIs reign. Brougham started as a Roman fortress- something I haven’t before mentioned- and the keep of a fortress that the Norman family of Vieuxpont built here at a later date ( possibly 1172 ) is still standing- albeit in ruins- along with service buildings.
The castle passed to Robert Clifford in 1268. His father Roger became Lord of Brougham when he married Robert Vieuxpont’s great-granddaughter. Roger Clifford figured prominently in the Borders wars becoming very powerful in his castle possessions. The link below will give you an aerial image of the land delineation of the original huge Roman fort motte "Brovacum".
Brougham was Lady Anne Clifford’s pet project because her father was born there. She died in the same room of his birth in 1676 which can still be visited. Brough Castle ,her North Yorkshire bordered fortress, was built high in the Pennines, from what originally was an old Roman triangular motte called Verteris. It was one of the few earliest castles in Britain to have stonework. If you check out the album photo you’ll see why it’s considered the most magnificently situated British castle. The oldest portions date from 1100 when annexation with Scotland took place through William Rufus. In 1203 King John gave Brough and Appleby to Vieuxpont along with the Lordship of Westmoreland. When Robert Clifford came into possession of the stone castle he built a new hall along with a semi-circular tower which today is known as Clifford’s Tower. Much of the destruction of this castle occurred in 1521 from a fire. This was reversed, for a time, when Lady Anne Clifford set her many restorations in motion, of course.
Now when you look in the album you’ll actually see a photo of Naworth Castle which I somehow neglected to put in April 2006! This became the principal residence of the Dacre family in the 16th century. What started as a simple quadrilateral enclosure with a large tower on one side and gateway on the other was eventually enlarged as a fortress with moats being cut on three of four sides. It was obviously restored and rebuilt through the centuries along with Anthony Salvin’s addition in the 19th century, after the fire which occurred around 1840, giving the primarily 14th century building a fairytale appearance. On the same grounds there is a 16th century bastle-house which is a strong, stone structure, making room for cattle on the ground floor and with the living quarters above that, with barred windows. These houses were a basic type of defensible building and was essentially a castle stripped down to the bare essentials.
The original Dacre Castle was at Dacre itself (four miles S.E. of Penrith ) and the castle there is in good shape and in use. As with many of these tower castles built in the north as defenses as well as homes, the 66 ft pele tower there is intact with strong projections or buttresses at each corner of the keep, one of which was built with a staircase. The walls of the tower were built seven feet thick! It was built into a more habitable dwelling by the fifth Lord Dacre who renovated and altered the pele tower and added large windows in the late 17th century. Dacre also features a tunnel-vaulted, fireproof basement.
In 1715 after the Earl died, many possession were sold off and the castle was acquired by Edward Hasell of Dalemain and remains a part of the Hasell estate up to the present day. In a good restored condition, this castle will be featured in the I T V series "Incredible Britain", in which Robbie Coltrane travels from Glasgow to London in a 1958 Jaguar XK 150 using smaller roads rather than large freeways! www.visitcumbriacom/pen/dacrecas.thml
In addition to being rather dicey about Dacre Castle, I only mentioned Kendal Castle in 2006, which is in derelict ruins but still has some wall and the remains of two towers worth making a visit to see. It seems that the Kendal Norman beginnings were Castle Howe– whose earthwork remains are situated between Gilling Gate and Beast Banks. The bailey lays east of the motte and is surrounded by ditches and embankments and the only castle in Cumberland which was started as a motte and bailey. For more of that take a look at this: www.visitcumbria.com/sl/kendal-castlehowe.html
Kendal Castle was built by the de Lancasters, Barons of Kendal, in the 12th century and passed onto the Parr family during the time of Richard II (circa 1377 ). It has been speculated whether Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s 6th ( and last ) wife, was born there for certain. By the time the Tudors were in power at the end of the 16th century Kendal was primarily a ruin. Some of its stone was used for other buildings and excavations have revealed two vaults that ran beneath the hall. Visitors can explore the ruins by using the specially built wooden steps, and look over the town from the walls. As you peruse the photo album you’ll see a photo of this stunning aerial view taken from Kendal Castle of Abbot Hall and Kendal Cathedral.
I have quite a few photos of Sizergh in the photo album now and for all that it has only received a mention! This Landmark Trust beauty was occupied by the Strickland family for more than 750 years and started as a pele tower in the 14th century, like many Cumberland castles and great houses, but continuous extensions were built well into the Tudor era. The finest interior features include carved overmantels from Elizabethan times, furnishings from France, family portraits and a beautiful inlaid chamber. This one is only three and a half miles south of Kendal so definitely check it out if you’re in the neighborhood!
One last bit I failed to find upon my initial research is a small gem right on the Scottish/English border at Netherby called Coop House which is owned by the National Trust. Netherby Hall is also nearby www.netherbyestate.co.uk Coop House sits a short distance away on the bank of the River Esk on a high unfenced platform which was once a stone weir, where traps (coops) were set to catch salmon and was originally a summerhouse. This was Dr. Robert Graham’s property, part of the Netherby estate, which he restored and made improvements to in the 1760s and 70s. The Landmark Trust has made a beautiful restoration of this edifice which is actually mentioned in Sir Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet and is leased out through them from The Grahams who still own the Netherby estate.
Interestingly enough, Netherby Hall, an 18th century Jacobean manor with a real pele tower from earlier beginnings was another inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s literature. The house has been Graham property since the 16th century and Netherby is the site of a fort which served as an outpost for Hadrian’s Wall. Netherby Hall featured in the novel Marmion in which the Graham family heiress elopes with the young Lochinvar in the story. Ah, romance!
There are quite a few actual Roman forts to visit and there are still quite a few castles I haven’t covered, yet. But this will bring you up to date on all my recent discoveries and my lack of details in the first go-round. Enjoy all the new photos in the Cumberland album !
Toodles, sweets! Mwwaaah!
The Castle Lady
Let love alone rule my heart. – from La Boheme
Pure love and suspicion cannot dwell together.
At the door where the latter enters, the former makes its exit.
– Alexander Dumas (July 24, 1802-December 5, 1870)
(L’amour pur et le soupcon ne peuvent pas demeure’ ensemble.
A` la porte ou` ce dernier entre, le former sortie de meme.)