Brougham Castle, Nr Penrith, Cumbria

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Adding another castle to my collection, is this castle, one that we pass on every trip to Scotland, while towing our caravan, and of course its a little difficult to park up with a big van.  Last year we got lucky and had two holidays in Scotland 2016, and one was without the caravan, so course we stopped on the way back and explored Brougham Castle, two miles south-east of Penrith in Cumbria, in North West England.

We were lucky, the weather was perfect for castle exploring and we had the whole site to ourselves.  The castle is in a very picturesque setting beside the crossing of the River Eamont in Cumbria, and looking out over the Eden Valley, it was founded in the early 13th century.  The great keep largely survives, amid many later buildings, including the unusual double gatehouse.

This Medieval building was built in the early 13th century, by Robert De Vieuxpont.  The Vieuxponts were a powerful land-owning family in North West England, and also owned the castles of Appleby and Brough.  In 1264, Robert de Vieuxpont’s grandson, also named Robert, was declared a traitor and his property was confiscated by Henry III.  Brougham Castle and the other estates were eventually returned to the Vieuxpont family, and stayed in their possession until 1269 when the estates passed to the Clifford family through marriage.

With the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence in 1296, Brougham became an important military base for Robert Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford.  He began refortifying the castle, the wooden outer defences were replaced with stronger, more impressive stone walls, and the large stone gatehouse was added.  The importance of Brougham and Roger Clifford was such that in 1300 he hosted Edward I at the castle.  The second Roger Clifford was executed as a traitor in 1322, and the family estates passed into the possession of Edward II, although they were returned once Edward III became king. The region was often at risk from the Scots, and in 1388 the castle was captured and sacked.

After the sacking of the castle, the Cliffords spent more time at their other castles, especially Skipton Castle in Yorkshire.  By 1592 the castle was in a bad state of disrepair, it was briefly restored in the 17th century and James I was entertained there in 1617 .  In 1643 Lady Anne Clifford inherited this castle and also the castles of Appleby and Brough.  At the age of 60, she moved north and set about restoring the castles, plus many churches.  Brougham Castle was kept in good condition for a short time after Lady Anne’s death in 1676, she died at the castle, in the room where her father had been born.  Later The Earl of Thanet who next inherited the castle, sold the furnishings in 1714 and the empty shell was left to decay, as it cost too much to maintain.  The castle then became a romantic ruin and inspired many painters and poets.


The castle was left to the Ministry of Works in the 1930s and is today maintained by its successor, English Heritage.

11 Replies to “Brougham Castle, Nr Penrith, Cumbria”

  1. Magnificent ruins. The castle would have been really impressive by anyone’s standards. I really appreciate the drawings. It really helps to get a sense of what it would have looked like back in the day. Thanks, Lynne. 🙂

    1. Thanks Pat, its one of my favourites, I also have one of the other ones, Bourne Castle to post. I like the boards, and as you say it helps you get a sense of what they looked like, especially as in some cases its just a pile of rocks 🙂

  2. Thank you ,thank you so much! The ruins are wonderful,plenty here for the imagination. So enjoyed the history of the place, can’t imagine having one castle let alone 3. Thanks again for all the info as that takes time to add in.

    1. Thank you Deb, glad you enjoyed the tour, I think by restoring them back when she did, it saved a little more of them, that otherwise would have been left…… of my favourite castles 🙂

    1. The bridge was finished when we visited, there is a photo of it in the large gallery of photos, you can hardly tell it was damaged. I had forgotten about it being damaged, so glad English Heritage wanted it repaired rather then removed 🙂

  3. I love old castles – what a history. Excellent photos 🙂
    And I see – in my WP Reader – that you are nearly at a LEET number of followers! You’ve probably already got your notification by now 😀

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