English Castles

One feature of the English landscape is the number of old castles. Some of these go back a thousand years; others are more recent.

Barnard Castle - County DurhamIn the northern border regions and along the coastline these were mostly built as defensive fortresses, especially during centuries when there was a seemingly perpetual threat of war. At other times they were built more as statements of power and prestige. Some, once the strongholds of feudal baronies, gradually became business headquarters as well as homes for major landowning families, a kind of equivalent to the corporate headquarters found to day in the City of London.

Castles, like other historic houses, have thrived and declined and thrived again in line with cycles in the national economy over many centuries. Many ancient fortresses are nowadays little more than interesting ruined shells whilst others have been well preserved. Some are in private ownership whilst others are cared for by bodies such as the National Trust and English Heritage. A large proportion are open to visitors, often around the year although in some cases only at specified times. This can depend on other uses of the buildings either as private homes or as businesses such as hotels.

Pendragon Castle in the Sunshine

October 18, 2011

As I said in a previous post about the Mallerstang Valley it can be a wild place. Last time I was there the pictures were of gloom: This past weekend, however, I saw it in a different light.

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Pendragon Castle, Mallerstang, Cumbria

July 7, 2011

Of all the castles inherited by Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, in the 17th century Pendragon Castle must have been in the wildest and most remote-feeling location of them all. The Mallerstang valley in Cumbria, between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, and just to the south of the North Pennines AONB […]

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Brougham Castle, Penrith, Cumbria

June 30, 2011

Recently I uploaded a post about Brough Castle, one of several in the Eden Valley area belonging to Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th century.  Yesterday I snatched this quick shot of another of the long-ago residences of this remarkable lady, Brougham Castle, just outside Penrith and beautifully situated beside the River Eamont, the river […]

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Brough Castle in the Eden Valley, Cumbria

June 22, 2011

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 […]

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World Sheepdog Trials in Cumbria

June 14, 2011

In September Cumbria welcomes the World Sheepdog Trials to the parkland at Lowther Castle, near Penrith, Cumbria. More than 200 dogs and their handlers from over 20 nations will compete. Many thousands of spectators are expected at this prestigious event and its associated Food & Country Festival. A parade through Penrith is planned for Wednesday, […]

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“I thought there were more castles”

February 20, 2011

A few minutes ago I was bragging to myself about how many North of England castles I had mentioned here on the blog.  However, I must now confess that many of these have been more intention than action. I must improve my ways. Last week I did mention Durham Castle in passing, but didn’t say […]

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Kendal Castle

February 19, 2011

Last Wednesday I spent much of the afternoon walking around Kendal capturing views of the town. The intention is to produce a series of blog posts amounting to a photo-walk around the town centre, but for the time being here is one shot of Kendal Castle.  Centuries ago this was one of the homes of […]

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Lowther Castle – Restoration on a Massive Scale

January 26, 2011

When, many years ago, I first saw Lowther Castle I was quite taken aback.  Driving near Askham, south of Penrith, on the Eastern side of the English Lake District, suddenly this amazing building appeared on the horizon.  Decades after its substantial destruction and exposure to the elements the massive skeleton stands impressive still. Over the […]

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Another Lake District & Cumbria news trawl

January 11, 2011

Hoard of Roman coins near Silloth. A man with a metal detector was on his way home after finding nothing that day when he diverted to check on a freshly ploughed field near Silloth.  He’s glad he did, as he found a hoard of Roman coins.  See the story as told by the Whitehaven News. […]

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Muncaster – Overnight at a Lake District Castle

January 28, 2009

Over the past thirty years of driving up to Whitehaven, I’ve often looked across the valley to Muncaster Castle on the hillside above the River Esk not far from Ravenglass. Last week, though, I had reason to stop there. On my way north in the morning, and looking for somewhere to spend the night before […]

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