The Local Castles & Churches

Castles & Churches in Windermere & The Lake District

Local historic cannon near Windermere

The Lake District offers visitors a massive variety of places to visit. If you are interested in exploring the history of the area and the buildings of times gone by then there are an abundance of magnificent Castles and Churches in the Lake District that are well worth a visit or a day out:

The Local Castles:

Appleby Castle
Was enclosed in 1170 with sandstone rubble curtain walls, however, it began as a mottle castle above the River Eden. It became the stronghold of the Clifford family and was restored by Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th century. It stands in 10 hectares of land providing lovely river walks and a deer park.

Brougham Castle
These ruins were of a castle built on the site of a Roman fort, some rebuilding work was undertaken by Henry 11 in the early 13th century, it was vitally needed at the time of the Anglo-Scottish border wars and the War of the Roses, it’s military usefulness diminished after medieval times with consequent periods of neglect. However, it can still be climbed by the 4 storey keep, where the small private chapel is or the Oratory on the top floor.

Castle Howe
Remains of a mottle and bailey castle on a limestone spur at the west of the town, thought to have been built by the first Norman baron of Kendal.

Cockermouth Castle
An imposing ruin set high on a spur of land above the meeting place of the rivers Cocker and Derwent, this Norman castle was built in the 12th century with some of the stone having been stolen from the Derventio Roman Fort at Papcastle. The curtain wall, towers and inner gatehouse were added in the 13th century abd further additions in the 14th century were made with the outer gatehouse. The round tower at the apex formed by the rivers is known as the Bell Tower or Lady’s Apartment. Book through the tourist information centres for a guided tour during the Cockermouth festival in July.

Dacre Castle
Close to Pooley Bridge and not at all far from Ullswater this historic castle is a private residence and so can only be viewed externally. It was built to keep out the scots in the 14th century.

Dalton Castle
This castle was built to defend Dalton in furness and the Furness Abbey. The present 14th century 14m rectangular building with it’s non domestic pele tower and limestone walls up to 6 ft thick was thought to have been built on the instructions of the Abbott from the nearby Furness Abbey one of the most powerful landowners of the time. It’s main use was as a prison and courthouse which it remained until 1774 and 1925 respectivley. Extensively altered inside the 18th and 19th centuries resulting in only 2 floors instead of the original 4. It was given to the National Trust in 1965 by the 8th Duke of Buccleuch.

Egremont Castle
This Norman castle was built by William le Meschin the first noble of the barony of Copeland created by Henry 1. Originally dating from 1130-40 with additions made in the 13th century. The remains stand in public parkland and have been sadly neglected until it has fallen into ruins.

Greystoke Castle
Was initially a border chain of pele tower fortifications and was crenellated in 1353 b y William de Greystoke. The estate of over 1214 hectares is now an outdoor activity centre and venue for private and corporate functions. It is situated north west of Ullswater.

Kendal Castle
On a knoll to the east of the town and home to the barons of Kendal stands the remains of the 1180’s castle. Reconstructed in the 1200’s the Parr family are the most famous inhabitants. Katherine Parr was the sixth wife of Henry V111 whom she married in July 1543.

Lowther Castle
Set in 200 hectares of landscaped parkland, this mock castle was built between 1806 and 1811 with a great facade and shell this castellated mansion was in decline having become to expensive to maintain the interior was dismantled in 1957 and so the view is of the exterior only.

Millom Castle
Originally a Manor House the Huddleston family were granted a licence to crenelate and fortify by King Edward 111 in 1335. A massive tower was added in the 16th century and it is now partly occupied as a house.

Muncaster Castle
Set against a backdrop of Lakeland mountains and fells it consists of 13th and early 14th century defensive pele tower. Substantionally reconstructed in 1862 for the fourth Lord Muncaster. The rooms on show are filled with fine furnishings and portraits. Muncaster is remarkable for having been with the same family for more than 7 centuries. It is also renowned for its gardens, in particular the Georgian terrace leading to the summer houses, it is laid out over a half mile and gives views of lower Eskdale. It is reportedly the most haunted building mostly through it’s association with Thomas Skelton, the fool or jester of the castle in the 16th century and reputedly a murderer whose antics gave rise to the term “tom foolery". This is a really lovely placed to visit and makes a great day out with the castle, gardens and Owl centre.

Sizergh Castle
This fortified mansion contains an exceptional series of oak panelled interiors, some of the finest Elizabethan carved overmantels in the country; a collection of the finest English and French early oak furniture, family portraits and a magnificent inlaid Chamber. Sizergh was given to the National Trust in the 1950’s. Fine landscaped gardens surround the castle and across the road is the organic farm and tea shop.

The Local Churches:

There are many small churches and chapel’s throughout the Lake District, some dating back as far as the 1660’s and built on the sites of former Saxon and Norman churches so offer some interesting places to visit:

St Ninian’s at Brougham
This is one such church sitting in a lonely spot on the banks of the river Eamount and reached by a mile long signposted track across fields from the Appleby road. Also at Brougham is St Wilfird’s Church a sandstone building built by Lady Anne Clifford in the mid 17th century when she inherited Brougham Estate. Exceptional medieval and continental woodwork and carvings can be found inside the church.

Caldbeck St Kentigern’s church
Begun in 1112 is famous for it’s church yard inhabitant’s “The Beauty of Buttermere” Mary Harrison is commemorated with an elaborate white headstone . Also to be seen is the well/ spring at St Mungo used for babtisms in the 6th century.

Cartmel Priory
Founded in 1188 by Augustinian cannons and built between 1190 and 1220, regarded as one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in the north of England. There is a fine 17th century Renaissance screen inside the nave and a 15th century stained glass window on the east side of the priory. Regular tours are held every Wednesday from May to the end of October at 11.00am and 2.00pm.

Dacre St Andrews
Dating from the 12th century with some Viking fragments on the site of a saxon monastery, the church is famous for it’s 4 curious ancient carved stone bears.

Eskdale St Catherine’s Church, Boot
A typical small chapel in an isolated and picturesque setting by the River Esk , with Scaffel Pike as a back drop. Built in the 12th century and extensively rebuilt in 1881 the building contains interesting stained glass and an octagonal font decorated with 14th century St Catherine’s wheel and pagan motifs.

Greystoke St Andrew’s Church
Begun by the 14th Baron of Greystoke Castle this perpendicular style church has a massive squat tower. A church was first recorded here in 1255 with the present building begun in 1382 and finished in the 15th century. There is a 900 year old yew tree in the churchyard and a “sanctuary stone “ on the approach road.

Kield Chapel
This tiny medieval chantry chapel thought to date from 1350 was initially part of Shap Abbey. Chantry Chapels were where prayers were said for departed souls of rich patrons. The building is still consecrated and used for the occasional service despite being handed over to the National Trust in 1918.

Martindales St Martin’s Church
Typical small 17th century dale chapel set in peaceful and isolated countryside on the dead end road to Bannerdale east of Ullswater. Rebuilt in 1633 has a sparse but interesting interior with a lecturn and pulpit from 1634. 15 beautiful stained glass windows are strikingly colourful. Behind the church is the Martindale Yew.

Morland St Laurence Church
Mainly 13th-15th century and this medieval church has early English transepts and notable 1920’s east window. It has the only Anglo-Saxon church tower in Cumbria, dating from 11th century.

Rydal St Mary’s Church
Built on the site of an orchard beneath Nab Scar in 1824 by the Fleming family of Rydal Hall this small church has close links with William Wordsworth who helped with it’s design and location when he lived at Rydal Mount. He was the church warden from 1833-4, worshipping here regularly until he died in 1850.

St Matin's Church
Bowness on Windermere has it's own website and if you visit you will see the beautiful interior with it's stunning stained glass windows and read the history of the building.

Troutbeck Jesus Church
Situated on the busy road from Patterdale to Windermere in the Troutbeck Valley. The church and it’s yew trees dates from 1736 and it has a Pre-Raphaelite style stained glass window designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones which was installed in 1873.

Wasdale St Olaf’s Church
is a particular favourite of ours. It is a small unadorned church thought to date from the 16th century and it is hidden amongst a screen of yew trees. Said to be the smallest church in England, prior to it’s restoration in 1892 it had earthen floors and no glass in the windows, some of the roof beams are reputed to come from a Viking longship. The churchyard holds the grave of climbers who died on the local fells.