Discovering the Secrets of Appleby Castle

The Secrets of Appleby Castle

Discovering the Secrets of Appleby Castle

Appleby Castle is one of the few Norman castles to have been occupied continuously since its building.

The deep ditches of the first earthwork, dug in around 1095, still remain.

The lower part of the stone Keep may date from around 1110 –  when the first powerful local Norman Lord, Ranulf le Meschin, founded ‘New Appleby’ on the slopes between the castle and River Eden.

Since then, the castle has been strengthened by many of its owners.

Discovering the Secrets of Appleby Castle

It needed to be because the Eden Valley was the scene of repeated conflicts between the English and Scots.

In 1174, the King of Scotland captured Appleby: following its recapture the Keep was raised higher and a stone curtain wall replaced the wooden palisades of the first Castle.

A gateway in this wall, guarded by a portcullis, stood near the stone Great Hall and may still be seen, as may a Round Tower built in around 1250 and overlooking the approach from town.

Discovering the Secrets of Appleby Castle

In the 1450s, the eastern range of buildings was extended again, and much of this work, too remains today.

Several Kings were also Lords of Appleby –  Henry II, Ricard I, John, and Edward IV among them. King Richard III, when Duke of Gloucester, held the whole Lordship of Westmorland in the 1470s.

Other Lords of the of the Castle also featured in English history. Hugh de Morville was one of four assassins of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170.

Robert, the first Lord Clifford and former Earl Marshal and Lord High Admiral was one of the leaders who fell at Bannockburn.

Many other Cliffords achieved fame during the for which they were Lords of Appleby and hereditary High Sheriffs of Westmorland.

Perhaps the most remarkable of them was Lady Anne Clifford, born in 1590 and only surviving child of George Clifford, third Earl of Cumberland, sea captain and champion to Queen Elizabeth I.

Passed over as inheritor of the family estates, she challenged her father’s Will, defying King James I to his face.

When Appleby and other Clifford Castles eventually came to her, she challenged Cromwell to stop rebuilding them.

For nearly thirty years she dominated the Westmorland scene, restoring Churches and Castles and deciding who would be Member of Parliament and Mayor for Appleby!

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June 3rd
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