Brougham Castle

Brougham Castle near Penrith

Brougham Castle near Penrith

Brougham Castle near Penrith

Brougham Castle is situated some 2 miles from the market town of Penrith and is a fascinating place to visit and explore. It is also possible to determine the outline of the Roman fort on the south side of the castle, making for a fascinating exploration of nearly two thousand years of history, as well as an ideal picnic setting for a family day out within the beautiful river setting.

The castle was founded in the early 13th century on the site of a Roman fort and sits near the rivers Eamont and Lowther. In the castles earliest form it simply consisted of a stone keep, with an enclosure protected by an earthen bank with a wooden palisade. The Norman family of Robert de Vieuxpont built the Brougham castle, the ruins of which can still be seen today. The Vieuxponts were a powerful land- owning family in Northern England, owning Appleby and Brough castle.

Brougham Castle In 1268

By the time of 1268 Brougham castle had passed to Robert Clifford, whose father had become Lord of Brougham when he married Robert Vieuxpoint’s great granddaughter. With the Anglo -Scottish wars which started in 1296 Robert Clifford carried out much work at Brougham to strengthen the defences. The wooden outer defences were replaced with stronger, more impressive stone walls and the large stone gate house was added.

The importance of Brougham and the Clifford family was such that in 1300 Edward 1 was hosted at the castle. The region was often at risk of attack from the Scots, and in 1388 the castle was captured and sacked. Following this the Clifford family began spending more time at their other castles and in particular Skipton castle in Yorkshire.

Brougham castle descended over several generations of the Clifford family, however in 1592 the castle was in a state of disrepair. In the early 17th century the castle was briefly restored to such an extent that James 1 was entertained at the castle in 1617.

Brougham Castle and Lady Anne Clifford

In 1643 Lady Anne Clifford inherited the family estates, including Brougham castle, Appleby Castle and Brough Castle, whilst setting about restoring them.

Brougham castle was kept in good order and repair by Lady Anne Clifford and for a short time after her death in 1676. However the Earl of Thanet, who had inherited the Clifford estates, sold its furnishings in 1714.

The then empty shell was left to decay as it was too costly to maintain. As a ruin Brougham castle inspired a painting by J M W Turner and was mentioned by William Wordsworth in his poem ‘The Prelude’.

In the 1930’s Brougham castle was left to the Ministry or Works and is today maintained by English Heritage.

Today Brougham castle features an introductory exhibition, with carved tombstones from the nearby Roman fort. A guide book is available which explains the history of Brougham castle and Brough Castle and includes plans and photographs of both castles.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Brougham Castle please visit Brougham Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

For me Brougham Castle is one of my favorites and I hope you enjoy visiting it as much as I did.

Brough Castle

Brough Castle Cumbria

Brough Castle Cumbria

Brough Castle Cumbria

Brough Castle is a ruined castle set within the Lakeland village of Brough, Cumbria. The castle consists of a large mound, upon which there is an extensive range of buildings, with a circular corner tower, and the remnants of an older four storey keep. There is free parking available within short walking distance.

The site of Brough Castle was originally the Roman fort of Verterae. Verterae was built to control the lands of the Brigantes and guard the Roman road linking Carlisle Castle with Ermine Street which today is the modern A66. The Roman fort will have covered a much larger area than the present Brough Castle and is now a scheduled Ancient Monument. The impressive Brough Castle stands on a ridge strategically commanding Stainmore Pass on the site of the old Roman fort.

Medieval Brough Castle

The first castle was built by William Rufus in the 1090’s within the northern part of the former fort. One of the first stone castles to be built in Britain the walls showing the herringbone pattern typical of Norman architecture.

In 1268 Brough Castle passed into the ownership of the Clifford family, who also owned Brougham Castle in the area. Robert Clifford carried out work here and at Brougham Castle building a new hall and semi-circular tower, now known as Clifford’s Tower as a residence for himself. The Clifford family, when visiting in Westmorland, would stay at Brough Castle until an accidental fire in 1521 destroyed much of the building. It was not occupied again until Lady Anne Clifford inherited it in 1643.

Lady Anne Clifford undertook restoration work on all the castles she inherited. Following her death the castle passed into the ownership of the earls of Thanet, who made their home at Appleby Castle in Appleby-in-Westmorland. It is from this point in time that Brough Castle began to decline into the ruin you see today, with much of the stone plundered in 1763 when Brough mill was built. The castle is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to visitors with guide books available for purchase from Brougham Castle shop.

Today it is possible to walk through the gatehouse and explore the ruins of Brough Castle with its imposing stone work and information boards explaining the layout of the castle. The keep that can be seen today is built on earlier Norman foundations and it is believed that the original structure was composed of stone and wood. The present keep was built in the 12thcentury.

The Keep at Brough Castle

The interior of the keep at Brough Castle has several interesting features that are visible from the ground such as doorways and fireplace settings that were for the upper floors. There are also some remaining structures such as stairs and passageways within the walls that are now inaccessible behind a locked gate.

I can recommend that you stand upon the high ground at the castle keep looking out towards the west and Brougham castle and Penrith castle and the stunning views. From this vantage point the strategic line of defence becomes apparent along what is now the A66.

The nice thing that stands out for me at Brough Castle is the simple distinguishing fact that the land upon which the castle now stands is owned by a local farmer who has opened an adjacent farm shop café with a small children’s play area comprising of several slides and swings. The café is but a stone’s throw from the castle walls and makes for a great sitting area whilst you enjoy a coffee and reflect on the history of this ancient fort.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Brough Castle please visit Brough Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Within sight of Brough castle walls is the church of St Michaels’s which is very picturesque and there is an exhibition with pictures and text about the region.

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Whilst visiting Penrith and the Northern Lake District it is worth stopping off for a walk around Penrith Castle which is situated in the pleasant surroundings of Castle Park, on the southern edge of the town, opposite the railway station. The Castle is accessed via a wooden footbridge that spans the Castle’s moat.

The imposing ruins of Penrith Castle have a unique and intriguing history, with its sandstone remains of the ‘Castle of the Kings’.

Penrith Castle

The castle was built in 1399, when William Strickland, later to become Bishop of Carlisle and Archbishop of Canterbury, added a stone wall to an earlier pele tower,  primarily as a defence against the Scottish raids.

Old Fireplace at Penrith Castle

Old Fireplace at Penrith Castle

In 1419 Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland inherited Penrith castle, whilst later developing it, with additions and improvements. A walled quadrangular castle was built but without the customary angle towers. Strickland’s Tower, the original pele tower house, flanked the castle’s entrance on the northeast front. Ralph Neville added the Red Tower and a new gatehouse on the northeast. Ralph Neville was killed at the battle of Barnet in 1471.

In July of 1471, the castle came into the possession of Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Lord Warden of the Marches Toward Scotland, as part of the Warwick inheritance becoming a royal fortress for Richard, before he became King Richard III in 1483. Richard added the banquet hall along with other additions, and during building work took up residence at the nearby Duke of Gloucester inn, and by 1672 the castle was in ruins.

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Orders where given to repair Penrith castle but during the Civil War, it suffered heavy damage, probably resulting in the ruins seen today. During the Civil War the castle was the headquarters for General Lambert, but not for long as most of the action took place around Eamont Bridge a mile to the south.

The castle and the town remained part of the Crown Estate until the reign of William III who gave it and most other Crown property in Cumberland to his friend Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland. The castle eventually passing from the Earls and Dukes of Portland, to the Dukes of Devonshire, who later sold it to the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway Company who built Penrith railway station opposite the site.

The castle later passed into the ownership of the Penrith Urban District Council, who in 1920 converted the grounds of Penrith castle into a public park and built housing nearby.

Site Plan Of Penrith Castle

Site Plan Of Penrith Castle

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Penrith Castle please visit Penrith Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Penrith Castle is a great ruin to visit anytime of the year and open all year round.