Workington Hall

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House, and also as a Certain Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameWorkington Hall
Alternative NamesWirkyngton
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishWorkington

Fortified tower house with various additions, now in ruins. Mid C14 with C15 and C16 alterations and additions; late 1783-1789 additions by John Carr for the Curwen family. Mixed large blocks of red and calciferous sandstone with additions of similar rubble stone, all without roofs; oldest parts on chamfered plinth. Rectangular 3-storey tower with adjoining L-shaped medieval wing reduced to single-storey and rebuilt as 3 storeys by Carr; also adjoined by C15 hall range of 2 storeys, 5 bays, all enclosing courtyard on 2 sides, the quadrangle completed by a medieval gatehouse tower and wing by Carr. Tower was extensively renovated by Carr but retains some original loops, internal spiral staircase and mural chambers. Late C18 round and flat-headed windows, all unglazed. Wing has projecting 3-storey garderobe turret and ground-floor loops; large first-floor late C18 round-headed window openings, those above in ruins. Late C18 canted bay window to left. Further right-angled kitchen range of similar details, with angle turret. Hall range has blocked windows and doorways of various dates; 2 ground-floor early C16 2-light windows and upper-floor C15 window. Inner wall has C15 doorways and blocked early C16 multi-light windows. 3-storey gatehouse has flanking guardrooms with angle turret to right, showing a number of small original chamfered-surround windows; the round-headed through archway and windows are late C18 alterations. Adjoining late C18 wing has similar flat-headed window openings. Ancestral home of the Curwen family who obtained a licence to crenellate in 1380 (granted to Gilbert Curwen) (the foundation stone for the tower is said to have been laid 8 May 1362) and owned by them until sold to the local council mid C20. After vandalisation the council reduced the building to a controlled ruin

(Listed Building Report)

Despite being roofless, Workington Hall survives well and is a good example of a medieval tower house which later evolved into a larger fortified house. The present structure was occupied continuously by the same family for almost 700 years and as such it contains significant amounts of medieval and post-medieval fabric including one of the most complete medieval vaulted undercrofts in Cumbria. Its constantly evolving form during this period reflects the changing aspirations of the owners and the development of differing building techniques and fashions. Additionally the monument will contain the buried remains of the earliest habitation on this site which was constructed in the early 13th century and occupied until it was superseded by the tower house in the latter half of the 14th century.

The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Workington Hall tower house and later medieval fortified house. It was the ancestral home of the Curwen family for over 800 years and is located on the edge of a steep scarp overlooking the floodplain of the River Derwent. In its present form it consists of a roofless structure with buildings on four sides of a rectangular courtyard with the buried remains of a kitchen garden outside the north west corner. Documentary sources indicate that the first building here was erected early in the 13th century by Patric de Culwen, however, nothing of this structure survives above ground. Construction of a three-storey stone tower began in 1362 and a licence to crenallate was granted in 1380. By the late 14th/early 15th centuries the building had quickly developed from a tower house into a larger medieval fortified house; a vaulted hall with a turreted tower at the northern end had been built adjoining the north face of the existing tower and formed the east range of Workington Hall, whilst a gateway with flanking turreted guardrooms formed the west range. North and south curtain walls linked the east and west ranges and enclosed a rectangular courtyard. During the following centuries many additions and alterations ensued including construction of the present western gatehouse in the 16th century and the addition of northern and southern domestic wings. During the late 18th/early 19th centuries the upper part of the tower was rebuilt, a library was added to its east side, and the courtyard was reduced in width by the addition of passageways on the inner side of the north and south wings. Conservatories were added to the outside of the south wing, a kitchen garden to the western part of the north wing, and domestic buildings to the outside of the east wing. Most of these external later features have now been demolished. In 1946 the hall was presented to Workington Council and its roof was removed in the 1970s. Workington Hall is a Listed Building Grade I. The monument is constructed of red and calciferous sandstone. Its oldest upstanding structure is the three-storey tower close to the monument's south east corner. Although renovated in the late 18th/early 19th centuries the tower retains some original loops, internal spiral staircases and mural chambers together with late 18th century round and flat-headed windows. The medieval vaulted east range has a projecting three-storey garderobe turret and ground floor loops, large first-floor late 18th century round-headed windows and a bay window of the same date. At the northern end of the east range stands the medieval vaulted kitchen range with an angle turret at the north east corner. A similar turret at the north west corner has been removed. The south range contains numerous blocked windows and doors of various dates including two ground-floor early 16th century two-light windows. The three- storey gatehouse in the west range has flanking guardrooms with traces of medieval angle turrets latterly modified. A number of original narrow chamfered window surrounds survive whilst the round-headed archway and windows are 18th century alterations. At the north west corner there are the lower courses of a rectangular building which overlooked the kitchen garden. The north range contains numerous 18th century flat-headed windows. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceNY007288
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Russell W. Barnes All Rights Reserved
Copyright Russell W. Barnes All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 249
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 110 (plan)
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 94
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  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 47-8
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  • Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 92-3 (plan)
  • Jackson H. and M., 1988, Workington Hall 1500-1900
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 185-7
  • Pevsner, N., 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth: Penguin) p. 209-10
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 190, 244-7
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 207-8, 418 online copy


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 96
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 54 online copy


  • Curwen, J.F., 1899-1900, 'Workington Hall' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 16 p. 1-15 online copy

Guide Books

  • Heritage and Arts Unit, nd, Workington Hall visitors guide online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1377-81) Vol. 1 p. 447 online copy


  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 12 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 13 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 13 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 29 online copy
  • < >Lloyd Evans Prichard Ltd, 2006, Workington Hall Conservation Plan < >
  • < >Lloyd Evans Prichard Ltd, 2006, Workington Hall Gazetteer < >
  • English Heritage, 2006, Extensive Urban Survey - Cumbria (Cumbria County Council) Download copy
  • Tom Clare, 1983, Report on the Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Cumbria County Council) appendix 3