Muncaster Castle

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameMuncaster Castle
Alternative NamesMeol-Castre; Mulcaster
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishMuncaster

Large house incorporating (C13?) fortified tower in the south-west corner; remodelled and enlarged 1862-66 by Anthony Salvin for the 4th Lord Muncaster. Coursed rubble with quoins and sandstone detailing; embattled parapets, some carried on cavetto eaves. Graduated slate roofs; corniced stone chimneys. U-shaped plan with tower at end of each arm; mainly 2 and 3 storeys. Main entrance on south side in full-height porch. Scattered fenestration, mainly C19, of multi-light stone-mullioned (and transomed) windows. Very fine interior includes panelled Hall, drawing room (with decorative plasterwork to segmental ceiling), and octagonal library with galleries. (Listed Building Report)

THE manor of Mealcastre or Mulcaster was, like Millom, held of the barony of Egremont, and lay between the rivers Esk and Mite, about a mile from the railway at Ravenglass, where these two streams unite with the Irt in the estuary of Esk, and flow thence into the Irish Sea.

There was an ancient castle here upon an eminence N. of the Esk, belonging to the Penningtons, a family whose domicile, prior to the Conquest, had been at a place of that name in Furness, where they resided till 1242. The fee of Ravenglass had been given to Alan Pennington temp. John, and his descendant Sir John Pennington, a steady Lancastrian, residing at the time at Muncaster, gave shelter there to King Henry VI. after the disaster at Hexham in 1464, on his flight from Bywell Castle in Northumberland to find an asylum in the Lake Country. On leaving the friendly castle, he is said to have presented his entertainer with "an ancient glass vessel of the basin kind, about 7 inches in diameter, ornamented with some white enamelled mouldings," which has been preserved here with pious care ever since, and is called the "Luck of Muncaster." Like a similar relic at Eden-hall, it was given with a prayer that as long as it should he preserved the family should prosper, and never want a male heir

There is an old painting representing this incident in what is called King Henry's Bedroom here.

The present castle is chiefly modern, hut the principal tower of the ancient castle has been preserved, though it has no longer its original out-ward appearance. The place is surrounded with line grounds and woods, and has a magnificent prospect over Eskdale. (Mackenzie 1896)

The Pele tower of Muncaster Castle was erected about 1325, and is the S.W. angle of the present buildings. The castle was practically rebuilt in 1783, and repaired and enlarged in 1865. (PastScape–ref. Curwen)

Gatehouse Comments

The original form of this was a chamber block, in the form of a crenelated tower attached to an unfortified hall. When built this was a gentry status building, the Pennington's gaining baronial status only in the C18. At what date is the 'castle' name first attached to the building?

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceSD103963
Latitude54.3546714782715
Longitude-3.38127994537354
Eastings310350
Northings496340
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 440
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 107 (plan of tower)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 75
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 232
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 44-5
  • Cope, Jean, 1991, Castles in Cumbria (Cicerone Press) p. 120-2
  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 74-5
  • Allibone, Jill, 1988, Anthony Salvin: Pioneer of Gothic Revival Architecture, 1799-1881 (University of Missouri Press) p. 187-8
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 89
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 263
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 137-141
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth) p. 165-166
  • Parker, C.A. (new edn rev. Collingwood, W.G.), 1926, The Gosforth District: Its Antiquities and Places of Interest (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 15)
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 308-309
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Parker, C.A., 1904, The Gosforth District (Kendal) p. 201-5
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 322-3 online copy
  • Whellan, W., 1860, The History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (Pontefract: W.Whellan and Co.) p. 489-92 online copy
  • Jefferson, S., 1849, The Antiquities of West Cumberland (Carlisle)
  • Lewis, S., 1848, A topographical Dictionary of England (London) online transcription

Journals

  • Hussey, 1940, Country Life Vol. 87 p. 570-4, 592-5, 612

Other