Armathwaite Castle

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are major building remains

NameArmathwaite Castle
Alternative NamesHermanthwaite
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishHesket

Fortified house and extension. Probably mid C15 with late C17 or early C18 alterations; late C18 extension with late C19 alterations. Extremely thick red sandstone block walls, the facade of dressed calciferous sandstone, all with cornice and solid parapet. Double-span hipped graduated greenslate roof within parapet; banded red sandstone chimney stacks. Extension of dressed calciferous sandstone walls under Mansard tile roof with banded calciferous sandstone ashlar chimney stack. 2½ storeys over basement, 5 bays, with 2½-storey, 5-bay, left extension. Broad stone steps to central panelled and glazed door in quoined surround under keyed lintel with plain frieze and cornice. Later coat-of-arms of the Milbourne family over the entrance. Late C19 leaded casement windows in original stone surrounds; smaller attic sash windows with glazing bars in original stone surrounds. Straight joint in right return wall; the original medieval quoin stones with various masons' marks, suggest that the front of the house has been moved forward, but this is not altogether borne out by the thickness of the front basement wall. Windows similar to facade. Extension is of 2 builds, the right 3 bays earlier. Central stone steps to C20 door and overlight in stone surround. Casement windows in stone surrounds, and gabled attic dormer windows. Rear fenestration of 4 periods: blocked small chamfered-surround medieval windows; 2-light stone-mullioned windows with mullions removed; large C18 sash windows with glazing bars, and round-headed staircase windows, all in stone surrounds; some C20 windows in cement surrounds and plain reveals. Left return wall has small chamfered-surround medieval window, beside which is an C18 sash window in stone surround under a medieval relieving arch. Interior: no medieval features visible, apart from the splays of some windows, with masons' marks, and mural recesses thought to be the remains of newel staircases

Late C17 full-height oak staircase with heavy barley-twist balusters and moulded handrail. Some early C18 ceiling beams, moulded plaster cornices and fragments of panelling, otherwise altered after the 1939-45 war into a number of flats and now in the process of conversion back to one dwelling. Originally the land was granted in 1444 to John Skelton and passed to his son in 1461, his father having carried out building at great expense. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The Skelton's were gentry not baronial, although a particularly prominent family. However their house is an integral tower, rather than a chamber block attached to a hall, and seems to have been called a castle from an early date after it is built.

- 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 ReferenceNY505458
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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 194-5 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 15
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 34
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  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 343
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 295 online copy
  • Jefferson, S., 1838, History and Antiquities of Carlisle p. 399-400 online copy



  • Graham, T.H.B., 1923, 'Hesket-in-the-Forest' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 23 p. 39-40 online copy
  • 1844, Sept 20, 'Armathwaite Castle Southwaite Estate' Carlisle Patriot online copy


  • Perriam, D., Armathwaite Castle, the Building and its History