Castlefacts

England - Northern England - Cumberland - Penrith Castle

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The ruins of the 15th century Penrith Castle together with a 14th century pele tower built by Bishop Strickland. The pele tower has external dimensions of 10 metres by 8.8 metres width walls 2.3 metres thick and over 1 metre high. A doorway in its south western side gives access into a substantial yard measuring 36 metres square internally which is enclosed by a high barmkin or curtain wall. This wall still stands virtually to its full height on the south east and much of the south west sides but is considerably reduced in height elsewhere. The yard would have contained timber buildings associated with the pele tower. The buildings of the later castle were constructed within this yard and against the curtain wall, thereby creating an inner courtyard, and survive as low stone walls. These internal buildings included a great chamber, a chapel, a private chamber and great hall, kitchens, and the White Tower. The castle was later extended beyond the north west wall of the barmkin and there are foundations of a garderobe turret, guard chambers flanking an elaborate entrance, and remains of the Red Tower at the northern corner. Surrounding the castle on all sides except the north west where it has been lost, is a dry moat up to 15 metres wide and 6 metres deep. There are foundations of a bridge abutment and later gatetower giving access across the moat's north eastern arm. In 1397 William Strickland obtained a licence to strengthen and crenellate his pele tower. Two years later a further licence was granted to build the barmkin. In the early 15th century Richard II gave the town and manor of Penrith to Ralph Nevill, Earl of Westmorland, and the new owner added the Red Tower, began construction of the internal buildings in stone. In 1471 Richard, Duke of Gloucester, continued the internal building and added a substantial outer gateway on the north western side, enlarging the structure into a royal castle. The moat was added in the late 15th century

(PastScape)

Perriam (2008) convincingly argues that Strickland is more likely to have built Hutton Hall on the bases of the 1397/99 licences, and that the castle was built by one of the Nevills, probably in 1386. William Stickland did not become bishop until 1400, but had done much long civil and legal service to the bishop of Carlisle and to the Percys and Cliffords before then. This is a fine example of how an incorrect view of licences to crenellate (that they were permission to build castles) has probably led to false interpretations of building dates for Penrith Castle. The PastScape record and most of the sources below need to be read with care.