Brougham Castle, Cumbria…

Brougham Castle was began by Robert de Vieuxpont in the early 13th Century. Located two miles southeast of Penrith, the castle is strategically located between the confluence of the rivers Lowther and Eamont, with sweeping views across the Eden Valley. Built on the site of a former Roman fort, the castle initially consisted of a stone keep and a bailey surrounded by a rampart with palisade

In 1264 the grandson of Robert de Vieuxpont, also called Robert, was decleared a traitor and Brougham Castle, along with the de Vieuxponts family’s other castles and estates were confiscated by the Crown.The estates and castles were eventually returned to the de Vieuxpont family.

In 1269 the castle at Brougham came into the ownership of the de Clifford family through the marriage of Roger de Clifford to Isabella de Vieuxpont. On Roger’s death in 1282, the castle passed to Robert de Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford. In 1296 the Anglo-Scottish War broke out. Robert held the title of Lord of the Marches and was responsible for the defence of the English border against the Scots. It was against this backdrop the defences at Brougham Castle were improved, with the wooden defences being replaced in stone and a new gatehouse being added.

Such was the importance of Robert de Clifford and Brougham Castle as his caput, Edward I visited him at Brougham in 1300. Robert de Clifford would go on to die at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 having served two kings as both Warden and Lord Warden of the Marches.

In 1322 Roger de Clifford, 2nd Baron de Clifford was executed for being a traitor having rebelled against the king. With this, the de Clifford’s estates were confiscated by Edward II. The de Cliffords estates were restored to the family in 1327 on the accession of Edward III to the throne, including the castle at Brougham.

During the early 1380s the castle at Brougham was improved, with domestic buildings being added. However, these hadn’t been completed for very long when in 1388 the castle was captured and sacked by the Scots. After this, Brougham Castle seems to have lost its status as the main administrative centre for the de Cliffords, with them preferring to spend their time at Skipton Castle in Yorkshire.

By 1592 Brougham Castle was in a state of disrepair. The castle was in the ownership of Sir George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland at this time. The earl spent most of his time in the south of England as he held the post of the Queens Champion during the reign of Elizabeth I.

During the early 17th Century the castle went through a brief phase of restoration. The restoration must have been to a good standard as James I was entertained at the castle in 1617. Brougham Castle was inherited in 1643 by Lady Anne Clifford, who was the last member of the Clifford family to live at the castle. During this period, the castles in the ownership of the Clifford family at Appleby, Brougham and Brough (as well as other) underwent a period of restoration, with Lady Anne spending time at each in turn for several months. Lady Anne died in 1676 at Brougham. After this the castle at Brougham fell into a ruinous state having passed into the ownership of the Lord of Thanet who decided to concentrate his resources  on maintaining nearby Appleby Castle. The castle passed into state ownership in the 1930s.

The site is now managed by English Heritage and is open to the general public.

Brougham Castle Keep and Gatehouse
Brougham Castle Keep and Gatehouse
Brougham Castle Ruins
Brougham Castle Ruins