Brough Castle in the Eden Valley, Cumbria

by David Murray on 22 June 2011

in Castles, Cumbria, Eden Valley, History

The Keep, Brough Castle, Cumbria

The Keep, Brough Castle, Cumbria

Brough Castle is passed by thousands of motorists every day as they plough past on the A66 between Cumbria and County Durham at whatever maximum speed the traffic will allow, hurrying towards or on the way down the Pennine slopes from Stainmore. Those using the Kirkby Stephen road pass even closer to the castle’s nine hundred years of history – in fact it’s much more than that as a Roman fort was here long centuries before the Normans embarked on their fortification of England’s northern border.

How many stop to take a look at this interesting structure? I would very definitely recommend a break in your journey for a short spell of castle-browsing. Centuries ago this was one of the main residences of Lady Anne Clifford, that doughty owner and restorer of castles from Skipton in West Yorkshire almost to the Scottish border. (Castles at Brougham, Pendragon and Appleby were others of her rebuilding projects in this part of the country).

True, what is left today is merely a pale reflection of the splendour that once was there, but English Heritage have done an excellent job of bringing the ruin to life through the provision of a series of well-written and illustrated information boards. What is more the English Heritage web site contains several highly informative pages on the castle’s history and significance, as well as describing the underlying research and archaeological investigation.

Brough Castle, Cumbria

Brough Castle, Eden Valley, Cumbria

Over the centuries the castle has suffered many bouts of ill-fortune including invasion, fire and sheer neglect – including being burned down during a 16th century Christmas party! In between, however, and especially in the hands of that great northern dynasty the Cliffords, it was restored, enlarged and equipped as an important noble residence.

Brough Castle Interior

Brough Castle, showing part of the interior remains

Visiting recently for the first time, I had expected to be in and out of the castle site in fifteen minutes to join my wife in the adjacent very pleasant tea room. But no, I found myself reading, viewing and attempting to visualise how life might have been within these walls after the renovation three hundred and fifty years ago – not to mention trying to get some good photos. It is interesting also to try to identify the different phases of building. For example, how many different window styles are there in the remaining structures?

Tearoom Brough Castle

The Tearoom, Brough Castle, Cumbria

If you’re in the Eden Valley around Brough, Kirkby Stephen or Appleby, or even just ploughing over the A66 across the Pennines, don’t miss Brough castle. The countryside is great, Brough being right on the edge of the North Pennines AONB – a designated “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. The ice-cream here is really good too, and there’s a children’s play area behind the tearoom.

Be Sociable, Share!

Previous post:

Next post: