Hermitage Hill, Conishead Priory

Has been described as a Rejected Masonry Castle, and also as a Rejected Uncertain

There are uncertain remains

NameHermitage Hill, Conishead Priory
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishUlverston

"On top of the wooded hill to the north (of Conishead Priory) ... are the ruins of a castle, &c., partly modern: a small circular tower is, however, covered with ivy which must have been the growth of centuries" (Jopling).

The south-west tower is in perfect condition. The other one is only just visible above ground level (S.S. Reviser 2.3.51).

The tower stands upon a 150 foot high hill top in a very prominent position overlooking Conishead Priory. It appears to have been constructed purely as a decorative feature within the ornamental grounds belonging to the Priory, and to have been used at a later time as a vantage point, a circular stone stairway having been constructed within, to give access to the wooden roof top. There are no traces of antiquity. The walls are constructed of stone, slate and brick. The tower has eight sides and is in 'Gothick' style. Loopholes are without any splaying. On the NE side are remains of a wall which probably connected with a second tower, remains of which consist of a circular mound of grass covered stones, 4.0m. in diameter, 0.3m high, hollowed at the centre. Another scatter of stones lies further to the north. The two towers are 12.0m. apart, and they possibly contained an ornamental gateway originally.

They probably belong to the late C18 or early C19. "The towers are 'shams', built by the BRADYLLS in the C18" (Field Investigators Comments-F1 ASP 04-JUN-58). (PastScape)

Summerhouse. Early C19, restored 1980s. Rubble, covered with cement slurry. Roof not visible. Octagonal plan. 2 storeys, with storey band and with corbel table below parapet. A corbelled turret projects at parapet level on the south side. The joinery is late C20 stained hardwood. On the ground floor there are 3 openings with plain reveals and pointed arches, now with glazed doors. A 4th opening is blocked. On the 1st floor there are 4 windows with plain reveals and segmental heads

Below the turret there is a narrow blind recess. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Definitely a folly but just possibly based on site of defensive building, lookout tower or navigation marker of Conishead Priory. If so was the hermit charged with its maintenance.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSD301760
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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29)
  • Ayre, L.R., 1887, History and Antiquities of Furness: Being a Record of Journey Made in Furness, in the Year 1777, with Descriptions of the Places Visited (Ulverston) p. 8
  • Jopling, C.M., 1843, Sketch of Furness and Cartmel p. 161 online copy


  • 1906, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 6 p. 318 online copy
  • Harper Gaythorpe note in Curwen, J.F., 1903, 'Some Notes on the Hermitage at Conishead Priory, Lancashire' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 3 p. 76n (a quote from Jopling) online copy
  • Anon, 1895, 'Conishead Priory' The North Lonsdale Magazine and Furness Miscellany Vol. 1.7 p. 119-29


  • 2009, Conishead Priory, Ulverston, Cumbria, Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment (Greenlane Archaeology) p. 75 online copy