The ruined, rectangular, red sandstone Penrith Castle was first built as a pele tower, providing protection for the townsfolk against marauding Scots. In 1397 William Strickland (later the Bishop of Carlisle) crenellated the castle. It was enlarged by Ralph Neville, and in 1471 became a royal fortress for the Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), guardian of the route to Scotland. A deep ditch, strong walls, and large underground vaults helped make the castle secure. Rumour has it there was a secret passage leading from the Gloucester Arms pub to the castle.
In 1648, during the Civil War, the castle served as an army headquarters building for the Commonwealth. Eventually the castle fell into ruin, and pieces were carted off by the locals to build houses. Still, there are substantial remains for castle lovers to explore.
Penrith Castle is located in a park opposite the railway station at Penrith, one mile from the M6, Jct. 40.
Open: Park 7:30am-9pm in summer; 7:30am-4:30pm in winter.
The castle is under the care of English Heritage.
Note: Please check opening times and dates before visiting in case of changes.
Photos courtesy Alexander P Kapp
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