Near Penrith is the historic village of Brougham, which contains some of the most amazing buildings in the Eden District of Cumbria.
Status: Eden District, Cumbria, Village, England
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Brougham Castle, Brougham Hall, River Eamont, Brocavum Roman Fort etc
Originally we mistook this impressive medieval Hall for Brougham Castle itself, and we stopped outside for a look. Looking through the main gate, there was a performance of King Lear, a famous play by Shakespeare, going on inside so we couldn’t go in, so we just admired the outside.
The Hall itself dates back to the 1500’s, when the oldest surviving parts of it were built by the Tudors, and was the site of a historic battle between the English and the Scottish. Extra sections were added in the 19th century, by a British architect named Lewis Nockalls Cottingham (1787 – 1847).
The Hall is also supposedly haunted, with the ghosts of soldiers from various conflicts, as well as the ghosts of Henry Brougham and his brother William who lived in the Hall in the 19th century.
On one of the main doors into the Hall is this fantastic lion door knocker, from the 12th century.
Only four of these exist today, with another else where in the village, and two bronze knockers in the city of Durham. The one on the north door of Durham Cathedral (there between 1172 and 1977) has been replaced by a replica as the original is now kept in the British Museum. Anyone that could grasp the ring was granted sanctuary in the Cathedral.
On the other side of the village, on the banks of the river Eamont, stands the forbidding Brougham Castle, dating back to the 13th century when it was founded by Robert de Vieuxpont, a local land owner who gained this area after it was granted to him in 1203 by King John. At the time Carlisle Castle was the major Castle in the area, watching the border with Scotland with others in Appleby and Brough.
Brougham Castle was built by Vieuxpont as he was one of the few supporters of King John at the time, and a rebellion wasn’t far away. In 1228 Vieuxpnt died, and the Castle passed to his son, John, who himself passed away in 1241. The next heir was John’s son, Robert, who came of age in 1257. The next stage of history in England involved Simon de Montfort (1208 – 1265), a French nobleman who inherited the lands from the Earl of Leicester, and rebelled against King Henry III between 1263 and 1264, and took over England. Robert was considered a traitor because of his support for Simon, and his property was confiscated and he passed away. He was later pardoned in 1266, after his death. His daughter, Isabel, married Roger Clifford and the castle passed to Roger, who died in 1283 and Robert Clifford, his son, took over.
Additions were made to the castle, and Edward I himself visited in 1300, and his successor Edward II didn’t pay as much attention to the Scottish so they advanced further into England, so Robert was moved to Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire, and was eventually killed in 1314 in Bannockburn, Scotland.
The Scottish invaded Cumbria and Brougham Castle was attacked many times, and by the time a truce was signed in 1323 between England and Scotland, there wasn’t as much need for the local Castles. In time Roger Clifford (the son of Robert) inherited the Castle, and then it passed to his son, also called Robert. The Scottish attacked again many times when hostilities broke out again and the Castle was badly damaged, but by 1421 it was still inhabited and the damage was repaired.
Hundreds of years later, Margaret Clifford was in possession of the Castle by 1605, and she repaired the Castle which had become dilapidated under the care of her husband, George as he was rarely at the Castle. He had been Earl of the Castle after it was given to the crown of Elizabeth I.
During the English Civil War, the Castle was taken over by Sir John Lowther to stop it being used by the Parliamentary Forces, but it was easily taken in 1648 by John Lambert, a Parliamentarian. Brougham was spared the fate of the other Castles nearby of being destroyed to stop them being taken, and more repairs we completed, and it was beginning to look more like a large country house than the old fortified Castle, owned by Lady Anne Clifford. She died in 1676 and the Castle passed through her Grandson, through 3 brothers to Thomas Tufton.
Thomas Tufton, 6th Earl of Thanet (1644 – 1729), was the last owner of the working Castle, but left it neglected as he moved to Appleby Castle and sold the Castle. By the 1750’s stone from the building was being taken to be used on the village of Brougham closeby, and it became a ruin which was missing a lot of its walls by 1794 and fell into further decay when later owns of the ruin, the Hothfields, couldn’t afford the repair costs. Repairs have been made since to the building to stop it deteriorating any further, and it was declared an ancient monument in 1915 to preserve the ruins.
It’s a fantastic sight at the edge of the river, and it was a nice find that day.
Brougham has many amazing sites so take a trip through the countryside and explore the village, which is only a few miles south of Penrith, near the M6 Motorway (North for Carlisle and Scotland, South for Lancaster, Preston and Manchester). The nearest train station is in Penrith, on the line between Glasgow/Edinburgh and London/Birmingham.