Businesses in Carlisle Towns and Villages of Cumbria


(See also Carlisle Castle , Carlisle Cathedral , Tuille House Museum)

Carlisle street By Barbara BallardCarlisle's history is a record of warfare and strife related to its strategic border position that made it a natural catalyst for warring factions of Scotland and England. But long before their time, at c80AD, the Romans were here, establishing Carlisle as their northernmost settlement. They called their town Luguvalium, and used it as an important supply depot for Hadrian's Wall.

Carlisle Pub By Steve BulhmanA few remains-Roman sewers, a fort, and houses-were found during excavations. By the 5th century the Romans were gone, and the history of the ensuing times is sketchy. Cuthbert, a bishop of Lindisfarne, was here in 685 after King Egdrid rebuilt and fortified the town. Both the Picts and the Vikings raided the area. In 876 the Vikings completely destroyed the town and its people, rendering it inhabitable.

Carlisle Castle By Julian ThurgoodThe Saxons, when they arrived, shortened the Roman name of the place to Luell, then added Caer, the Saxon word for city to make Caer-Luell, the precursor of Carlisle. For a while the Scots claimed the area, then a Northumbrian noble took charge.

It took the Normans to really bring Carlisle back to life when William II (Rufus) reclaimed the area from the Scots in 1092. He built the castle, while Henry I, in 1122, founded St Mary's Priory (In 1133 it became a cathedral) and arranged for the building of the walls. A length of the surviving wall can be viewed from the gardens below West Walls.

Carlisle River Eden Bridge By Steve BulhmanThere were three gates to the city-no longer surviving. One was known as Caldew and guarded the western entry near the castle. Another, the Ricker, stood sentinel over the bridge across the Eden. (A pleasant walk across the river to the parkland beyond is part of the current attractions.) The third, Botcher, was the southern entrance through the walls to the city. Its 16th century replacement no longer stands, but, in its place, are two 19th century towers, the Citadel. They served as a prison and assize courts. An 1845 statue honours the Earl of Lonsdale, whose efforts made the building possible.

Carlisle By Steve BulhmanIn 1135 King David captured Carlisle for Scotland, but Henry II recovered it in 1157 and a year later granted the town its first charter. The town was under siege by the Scots again in 1173, but held fast. The Scots succeeded in taking Carlisle in 1216, but only held it for a year. They tried again in 1296, but after three days, gave up.

Edward I held parliament here in 1298 and 1307 (Robert the Bruce tried unsuccessfully to grab Carlisle for the Scots the same year), dying six months later at Burgh-upon-Sands. The Scots just kept trying to bring Carlisle back to Scotland, but their 1345 attempt was again a failure. They made further unsuccessful tries in 1380, 1385, 1387, and again during the War of the Roses. Their last and short-lived successful attempt was during Bonnie Prince Charlie's abortive attempt for the throne.

In 1349-91, the Black Death hit, and plague hit again in 1598. Carlisle held its first official fair, Carel Fair, in 1353. Hiring fairs and a great fair for horses and cattle were held in the autumn. Fairs continued successfully until 1189, when the numbers dwindled to only 50 animals brought for sale.

View over Carlisle from castlekeep By Steve BulhmanMary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Carlisle's castle in 1568, but after two months at Carlisle, she was sent to Bolton Castle in Yorkshire. Carlisle Castle was deemed not secure enough for the prisoner.

James I was the next king to visit, in 1617. Civil War in 1644 saw Carlisle become a battlefield once again. It is said that food ran out, and people lived by eating horses, dogs, and other animals. The Parliamentarians won out and captured the Royalist city.

Carlisle Guildhall Museum By Julian ThurgoodThe Guildhall Museum is housed in an interesting medieval building. In 1382 a huge fire destroyed much of Carlisle, and the site of a waste tenement was turned into a home in 1407 by Richard of Redeness. When he died he left his home to Carlisle, and it became the Guildhall for the city's trade guilds. Its timber-framed construction is infilled with thin medieval tile bricks. The internal walls are made of interwoven twigs with a covering of clay. Each floor projects out over the one beneath, a way of using less ground to create a larger home. In 1844 and 1935 repairs were undertaken.

Carlisle Market Cross By Julian ThurgoodEach room in the museum has its own focus representing Carlisle's eight trade guilds: shoemakers, butchers, merchants, skinners and glovers, smiths, tailors, tanners, and weavers. Objects relating to each guild history are on display. The silver room is especially interesting with two 1599 silver bells among its collection. An ironbound muniment chest, medieval measures and pottery, a weaver's banner and stocks are part of the collections.

The Town Hall and Council Chamber, built in 1770, at the north end of the market place, has undergone a number of renovations. In front of the building is a 1682 Market Cross topped by a lion and a sundial.

St. Cuthbert Church Carlisle By Julian Thurgood18th century St Cuthbert's Church is the fourth building on the site-originally founded during St Cuthbert's 685 visit, rebuilt in 870, then destroyed by the Danes in 875. It was rebuilt in 1095 by King William II, then survived a fire, but was damaged in a raid by the Scots. In 1778 the building was replaced by the present one, built in the Georgian style. A 14th century stained glass window survives. An unusual feature is a moveable pulpit mounted on rails. Modern stained glass windows depict the life of St. Cuthbert. In the churchyard are buried Prince Charlie's soldiers. The 15th century Tithe Barn (restored in 1968), now a church hall, was once the dispensary for the city, providing free medical treatment for the poor.St. Cuthbert Church interior Carlisle By Julian Thurgood

St. Mary's Workhouse was built in 1785, for the poor, and St Cuthbert's followed in 1809. In 1745 woollens were manufactured for a few years. Linen making was added in 1750. Cotton manufactory-there were four large spinning mills in Carlisle-brought much needed employment and prosperity. Calico printing started in 1761, and gingham, check and bleaching establishments set up shop. Many old houses were demolished and more substantial ones built in their place. Tanneries, dye works, biscuit and hat making added to the industrial mix.

Carlisle Railway Station By Steve BulhmanThe railways arrived in the 1830's and were of great importance to Carlisle. The Carlisle Citadel Station, built in 1847, accommodated seven different lines. Today the 72-mile Settle to Carlisle scenic railway is a tourist attraction.

Carlisle's Tuille House Museum is one of the best museums in England. It lets the visitor experience Carlisle from pre-history through the Civil War and includes an AV experienceon the Border Reivers. The social and railway history of Tullie House Museum By Julian ThurgoodCumbria's north, a wildlife section, and contemporary art exhibitions complete the picture. On the grounds is the Old House and Gardens, a Georgian house that was the site of the original museum. Now displayed there are the Gallery of Childhood, paintings, and china.

Near to Carlisle are the scenic Eden and Irthing valleys and the North Pennines. Carlisle, at the confluence of the rivers Eden, Caldew, and Petteril has much interesting history to share.

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Steve Bulhman , Julian Thurgood

Location Map of Carlisle.

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