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Appleby Castle


Appleby Castle has a park of around 4 hectares. The grounds are home to a collection of rare breeds of animal, including sheep, goats, pheasants, ducks and geese. Other features include the remains of defensive earthworks surrounding the castle and two moats.


Appleby Castle is situated on a hill at the south end of Appleby-in-Westmorland, overlooking the River Eden which runs along the eastern side of the site.
The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Grounds around a medieval castle which were probably laid out by Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) during the mid to late 17th century. Surviving features include a mid 18th century or earlier prospect terrace and a 17th century gazebo which relates to the earthwork remains of a formal garden.



Appleby Castle is situated on a hill at the south end of Appleby-in-Westmorland, overlooking the River Eden which runs along the eastern side of the site. The south and west boundaries are formed by Scattergate, and the north-west and north boundaries by The Wiend, the south end of Boroughgate and by gardens backing from Boroughgate. The c 4ha site is walled on all sides except that bounded by the river. The boundary shown on a map of 1754 (Carlisle Record Office) differs in some respects, particularly on the western side where Scattergate was lined with houses and plots on its eastern side and the boundary wall was positioned along the edge of these, along the line of a medieval earth bank. The line of the perimeter wall is preserved at the south end of the site by the line of the north wall of the kitchen garden. At the north-east corner of the site the park wall is shown running directly east from the Boroughgate entrance to the river. On the 1st edition OS map surveyed 1859, as at present, the wall extends to include a finger of land running north alongside the river. Lady Anne Clifford records work to the park wall in the year 1655: ?And this summer by my appointment, was the wall of the little parke att Appleby made new and higher round about save only towards the water side? (Clifford 1990).


The principal entrance to the site is at the south end of Boroughgate where there are gates and stone gate piers and a mid to late C19 stone lodge (listed grade II). A drive runs south from this and divides, one branch leading west to a stable block and the other continuing south to a gateway built into the curtain wall around the Castle. This entrance is in the same position and the drive follows a similar line to that shown on the 1754 map. On the south-west side of the site there is another entrance with stone gate piers and a C19 lodge on Scattergate from which a drive leads north-east to the stable block, as shown on the 1859 OS map. This replaces an entrance situated c 150m to the east, shown on the 1754 map, where a drive ran north-west to the stables. At the southern tip of the site a disused doorway in the wall leads to a path running north to the Castle through woodland, as shown on the 1859 OS map.


Appleby Castle (listed grade I) is of C13 origin with successive alterations principally of the mid C15 and mid C17 date, followed by C19 restoration. The Castle was sacked by the Scots on several occasions and was described as ruinous by Leland in 1539 (quoted in Maxwell 1995). It was deliberately stripped of its roofs in 1569 as a punishment for the part played by the second Earl of Cumberland in the Rising of the North and it was attacked by Parliamentary forces in 1648. Lady Anne Clifford repaired and restored the buildings in the 1650s from which time they were used as a residence. The main building is situated at the east end of a rectangular platform with a rounded west side, following the line of the motte, and is enclosed by a curtain wall within which, c 100m west of the Castle, is a free-standing C12 keep (listed grade I) called Caesar's Tower. This was repaired and altered by Lady Anne Clifford during the mid C17 and used to accommodate guests. A range of ancillary buildings, mostly of C17 and C18 date, is built into the north side of the curtain wall and is in use (1997) as a cafe and as private dwellings.

Some 50m north-west of the Castle is a rectangular stable yard (listed grade I) built by Lady Anne Clifford in 1652. It is currently (1997) in use as dwellings and exhibition space.

The Castle is surrounded by a moat and other earthworks associated with its defensive use during the medieval period. The earthworks and their immediate environs are a scheduled ancient monument.


The Castle is surrounded by parkland within which gardens, kitchen gardens and paths were laid out at various times, so that the area became pleasure grounds rather than parkland proper.

The Castle courtyard is laid out with lawns and gravel paths. On the south side a grassed terrace extends from the south end of the Castle westwards for a distance of c 70m, as shown on the large-scale OS map surveyed 1857-60. Two sets of stone steps lead up to openings in the curtain wall which connect with a pathway which runs east along the outer side of the wall. The 1754 map shows that the openings led to small buildings attached to the outer face of the wall. Immediately west of the main building there is a rectangular lawn, as shown on a photograph of 1940, which has a later C20 swimming pool in it. Paths lead around from the entrance on the north side to the main Castle entrance and continue around the perimeter of the courtyard. A blocked opening on the western side of the curtain wall led to a small building shown on both the 1754 plan and the 1859 OS map.

There is a paved terraced walk on the outer north and east sides of the Castle which gives views through trees of the River Eden. On the east side it is supported by a substantial stone wall of masonry which varies in wear and appearance, suggesting successive repairs. The wall rises above the level of the walk forming a parapet. The north side has no retaining wall and the walk extends along the side of the building with a hedge on its outer edge. Both walks are shown on the 1754 map when the part on the north side extended for only a short distance along the side of the building from its north-east corner. The walk on the east side leads to a path which runs south as a causeway over the moat and on to a former kitchen garden as an avenue, as suggested on the 1859 OS map. This route is shown on the 1754 map. A path leads through the dry moat on the south side of the Castle and continues eastwards through a tunnel beneath the east terraced walk, to join with a path which leads through woodland on the sloping eastern side of the site.

The terraced walk on the east side of the Castle overlooks a steep scarp; to the south-east the land falls more gently and paths lead through woodland. The land south of the moat is divided into various pens, aviaries and enclosed plots for the display of rare breeds of domestic animals and birds. A bank, which is part of the medieval earthwork system, overlooks the kitchen gardens, as shown on the 1859 OS map. The 1754 map shows much of the south and east sides of the site covered with trees.

On the north side of the site, in an area immediately north of the Castle moat and east of the entrance drive, the ground is terraced down in two stages. On the lower terrace, c 70m north of the main building, there are tennis courts, which are not shown on the 1859 OS map. Beyond this to the east the land falls as a steep scarp down to flat meadowland alongside the river. The northern edge of the area is defined by a steep ditch running between two banks which formed part of the medieval defences. On the edge of the inner (southern) bank at the point at which it falls away as a scarp, c 80m north of the Castle, there is a single cell building with a basement called Lady Anne?s Bee House (listed grade I), which has a pyramidal roof with a finial base and stone kneelers. Restored or replaced arched windows in the north, south and east sides give views of the River Eden and sandstone cliffs on its opposite bank. The building is entered from the west side up stone steps to a doorway with an altered or restored arched head. The basement, which is entered from an opening on the south side and is in use as a pigsty, is of rougher and more worn masonry than the superstructure. Despite its name it is not a bee house but may have been so-called because it resembles one in shape. It is thought by most sources to have been built by Lady Anne Clifford as a gazebo or oratory during the mid to late C17; the building style is consistent with that date range but Lady Anne did not make specific mention of it in her diaries. It is reached from a path running north-east from the main entrance drive along the top of the earth bank. On the 1754 map this area is shown as a formal garden, square in shape and with boundaries which enclosed the Bee House in the north-east corner and another building in the south-east corner. The garden is shown as two square plots, with paths radiating from central circles in a position corresponding approximately with the upper terrace, and paired rectangular beds, indented at the north-east and south-east corners to skirt the garden buildings, on the lower terrace. The lower terrace is identified as a garden on the 1843 Tithe map (Maxwell 1995) but it is not shown as gardens on the 1859 OS map.

On the north, north-east and east sides of the Castle there is grassland with scattered mature trees which is divided into paddocks in connection with its use as a rare breeds centre.

A boathouse, probably of early C20 date and not shown on the 1859 OS map, is situated on the riverbank c 100m north-east of the Castle and is reached from a path which runs north-east from the north terrace walk. This leads down the slope to a viewing point with a platform set into the slope and a stone parapet overlooking the river, c 50m from the Castle, before descending to the boathouse and continuing north along the riverbank as shown on the 1859 OS map.


A kitchen garden is situated at the south end of the site c 120m south-west of the Castle. It is in use (1997) for the cultivation of flowers and shrubs. The east and west walls are of brick and the south wall is formed from the stone site perimeter wall. The north wall, which was heated, is stone with a brick lining and has a small building against its outer edge and C20 glasshouses against the inner wall. The north wall is on the line of the site perimeter wall as shown on the 1754 map; by 1843 the area had been enclosed and was laid out as a garden (Maxwell 1995), on the former site of properties fronting onto Scattergate. On the eastern side the arrangement of walls reflects what is shown on the 1754 map when a drive from Scattergate entered the site and ran north-west. The eastern garden wall follows the angled line of the former drive so that the garden is an irregular rhombic shape. A wall running north from the Scattergate side is in the position of a 1754 property boundary.

Attached to the eastern side of the kitchen garden, and reached via an arched entrance at its north-east corner, is a rectangular area, walled on the south and west sides and enclosed on the north side by a medieval bank. It is shown as a garden on the 1859 OS map and is marked on the 1754 map as 'Nursery', while another version of the same map marks it 'Castle Garden'. It is in use (1997) as an aviary. There is a semi-derelict cottage in the south-west corner of the area which is probably of C18 date and may be the building shown in approximately this position on the 1754 map.


Published works F O Morris, A Series of Picturesque Views 4, (1866-80)

Country Life, 87 (13 April 1940), pp 382-6; (20 April 1940), pp 408-12

N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (1967), pp 218-19

M Holmes, Appleby Castle (1974)

D J H Clifford (ed), The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford (1990), pp 103-227


A Plan of Appleby in Westmorland from an actual survey taken 1754, reproduced in Holmes 1974

Plan of Appleby-in-Westmorland, 1754 (D/Lons/L5/3), (Carlisle Record Office)

T Jeffreys, The County of Westmorland, 1770

C & J Greenwood, Map of the County of Westmorland, 1824

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1859

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1857-60

Archival items

R Maxwell, Archaeological Report prepared for the National Trust, 1995

Description written: September 1997

Register Inspector: CEH

Edited: March 1999

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


The site probably dates from the 11th century. The motte was levelled and a stone keep erected, possibly by Ranulf Meschin, between 1100 and 1120. In 1174 it was taken by William the Lion of Scotland, eventually reverting to the English Crown under Richard I. King John granted Appleby to Robert de Vipont and it passed to the Clifford family, who became Earls of Cumberland in the 16th century, in 1334. In the 1650s the Castle passed to Lady Anne Clifford who turned it into a residence. It passed through marriage to the Tuftons, Earls of Thanet and remained in the family until its sale in the late 20th century. It is currently (1997) in use as a museum, offices and private dwellings.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1650
  • Grade: II*


  • Moat
  • Castle (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information


Landscape Park



Principal Building






Civil Parish