Carlisle Castle, Cumbria…

Carlisle Castle is located very near to the city centre of Carlisle. With a history spanning over 900 years, the castle has seen very many historic events. Built during the reign of William II (William the Conquerer’s son – 1087 – 1100), the castle occupies the site of a previous Roman fort.

Up until the reign of William II, Cumberland (now Cumbria) was considered to be part of Scotland. In the early 1090s, William drove the Scottish out of Cumberland and established English (Norman) control over the area by building fortifications, such as the castle at Carlisle.

Over the coming centuries the castle at Carlisle would change hands many times as the English and Scottish fought for control of Cumberland. The first recorded attempt of the Scottish trying to re-assert control came during the Anarchy.

The castle at Carlisle would have originally been built out of wood and was most likely a ringwork, but was later replaced in stone on the order of Henry I between 1122 and 1135, though there has been some debate if the castle was actually completed by King David I of Scotland when his forces retook the castle in 1135. The present stone keep on the site dates from this period.

Carlisle Castle was converted on the order of Herny VIII to accommodate artillery. In 1567, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at the castle for a number of months. The castle would go on to be besieged for eight months during the English Civil War (1640-1649) by Parliamentarian forces.

The effective military life of the castle came to an end in 1745 during the Second Jacobite Rising. The Scottish took the castle, leaving a garrison to man it. When the English forced the Scottish forces to retreat, they recaptured the castle and Carlisle and imprisoned or executed the Scottish garrison.

After 1746 the castle fell into a state of disrepair, though some minor repairs were made at the end of the 18th Century. After this, the Army took possession of the castle and used it up as a base for a regiment up until 1959, though some of the castle site is still used by the Army Reserve to this day.

The site the castle occupies is roughly 4 acres in extent, being roughly triangular in shape. The castle consists of a stone keep, outer and inner wards which are divided by a half-moon battery, breastwork and and inner ditch to provide an additional line of defence and large curtain walls.

The castle is now in public ownership and is managed by English Heritage. You can visit the castle by paying a small fee.

Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle Keep
Carlisle Castle Keep
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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

Penrith Castle, Cumbria…

Penrith Castle is located in Castle Park in the town of Penrith in Cumbria. Work began on the castle at the end of the 14th Century and was completed by about 1470. The castle’s intended purpose was to defend against Scottish raids.

It is unclear who the specific builder of the castle was, it has been suggested that either William Strickland, Bishop of Carlisle or that Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury was responsible. It has also been suggest that Neville may have utilised the earlier building by Strickland as the core of a new castle. Whoever was responsible for the castle’s construction, it remains unclear.

Penrith Castle’s was in the ownership of the Neville family until 1460 where upon the death of the Earl of Salisbury the castle passed to Richard, Earl of Warwick who was also known as the ‘Kingmaker’. Warwick was killed at the Battle of Barnet and had no male heir to which to pass the castle. The castle reverted to the ownership of the crown until 1471 when it was granted to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who is better known as King Richard III.

Following on the from the death of Richard (1485), the castle at Penrith remained in the ownership of the crown until it was granted to the Earl of Portland in 1696, the castle was then sold to the Duke of Devonshire in 1787 before later becoming the property of a railway company.

The ruins of the castle are directly opposite the railway station in Penrith and are open all year round.

Penrith Castle, Cumbria
Penrith Castle, Cumbria
The Keep, Penrith Castle, Cumbria
The Keep, Penrith Castle, Cumbria