Saturday, September 26, 2020

To be or not to be....a tower!

When I started out on this historical journey years ago, I came across a great many buildings that didn't seem to fit into any of the groupings of buildings scattered across this blog. Some appeared to have the characteristics of towers, peles, strong-houses or even mini-castles, whilst others were historically known as the seat of locally powerful families. Context is sometimes difficult to find with these buildings...history is murky and often twisted over time, a bit like Chinese whispers, and getting to the bottom of the mystery is often difficult....if not impossible. Here are a few local gems, that have eluded any sort of definitive description.

Barwise Hall:

Barwise Hall sits a few miles to the South West of Appleby. It was most likely built by Sir John Sudwick in 1579, and unlike so many older buildings in this area, doesn't seem to have been altered much over the years. There is a doorway in the North wall, with a plate with the initials I.S. A.S. 1579 over the top, and a door in the East wall with the initials R. and E.D. 1676 over it. The first date plate relates to John Sudwick and his wife, and the second data plate relates to a later owner, Reginald Dobson, who is responsible for the addition of a staircase wing.

 Above. Barwise Hall

The building is listed as a possible bastle...or at least built on the plans of a bastle, ie, provision for livestock at ground floor level, with access at first floor level for the owners, providing a certain level of protection or defence. No such characteristics can be seen today, and Philip Davis of the Gatehouse website, dismisses this house as a defensible building completely, stating that there is no provision for security or defence anywhere in its fabric. 
Above. Floor plan of Barwise Hall

It's plain to see that the building has thick walls, but this is most likely more to do with building materials and the environment in this part of the country....winters can be wet and very cold, and sunny days are few and far between, rather than the provision of defence.

Blease Hall:

Blease Hall lies between Middleshaw and Oxenholme near Kendal, and is described by Perriam and Robinson in their excellent book, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria, as a 'possible fortified manorial hall'. Again Philip Davis casts doubt on this....there really isn't any evidence of defence or security.

 Above. Blease Hall

Originally an H plan house, the South wing was demolished sometime around 1850 after it was gutted by fire. The basic plan of this building follows that of many in the South Lakes area....H plan...central hall with wings to either side.....many of these buildings have had wings removed or demolished over time, belying their original footprint. Peter F. Ryder is of the same opinion as Philip Davis...a building that needs more research, but one that displays no evidence of defence. 

The hall was built by Robert Bateman, sometime around 1600, and he is reputed to have used the Gibson family of masons who were responsible for some of Levens Hall's upgrades about the same time. 

Cliburn Hall:

Once upon a time, there was a Grade II* listed building called Cliburn Hall. In 1965, the owners made some alterations to the fabric of the building....resulting in the removal of the building's listed status. What was removed at this point, destroyed or changed is not documented, but it must have been damaging. The hall lies a few miles South East of Eamont Bridge near Penrith. It may have been purposefully built as a pele tower sometime around 1347 most likely for the de Cliburn family, who seem to have been in residence for quite some time. The Cumbrian and Westmorland Antiquarian Society tell of John Clybborne being besieged in his tower, by William de Thisteald, who shot more than one thousand arrows into it. 

 Above. Cliburn Hall

In 1567 the tower was owned by Richard Cliburn who instigated major rebuilding of the hall and its attached tower. He added a whole new domestic range, keeping many of the original thick defensive walls in place along with the vaulted ceiling in the 14th century tower.

By the mid 1600s, the hall had been sold to the Collingwood family...then to the Sawrey and Lee families, and finally, in 1667 it passed to the Lowther family. Around 1872, the lead roofs and battlements were removed, and the roof gabled...giving the hall the characteristics we see today.

There are a number of these intriguing building around Cumbria, all with tales to tell. Some have been altered over the years with building and rebuilding works masking their original purpose. Others have been so drastically changed that it's impossible to tell today, whether they were built with defence in mind. 

Friday, June 12, 2020


We're still here!!

You've probably noticed a lack of posts during this year, especially of a castle nature, and you'd be right in thinking that the website, apart from the odd Kendal-related post was dead and buried. However, I'm still alive and kicking, and still dipping into the site every now and then to make sure that things are still working and that all is in order.
On the news front, much has happened since my last 'real' castle related post.
Gleaston Castle appears to be in danger of total collapse in places. The Castle Studies Trust recently reported that much of the structure is in a perilous state and requires immediate action to stop this unique North Western castle from becoming no more than a heap of rubble.

The full blog entry can see here: Gleaston Castle: On the edge of collapse.


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Caerlaverock Castle in South West Scotland has been imaged in fantastic 3D. This unique triangular castle represents the pinnacle of castle building from the 13th century onwards, and the 3D rendering enables you to virtually visit the castle.
The BBC article can be seen here: Model shows triangular Caerlaverock Castle., and the full 3D model can be seen here.
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The Guardian posted a great article in October last year, detailing their top 10 tiny castles to visit. Good to see that a Cumbrian castle (Pendragon Castle) is included in the list.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Kendal, Bridge Inn\Bridge Hotel

Bridge Inn\Hotel
Stramongate
Kendal
Cumbria

Here we are again, reading about yet another Kendal public house that has fallen by the wayside. The Bridge Inn\Bridge Hotel seems to have soldiered on for a number of years, stumbling from one landlord to the next, until 2018, when the inn closed its doors for the final time. There were rumours that it was to be opened as a community pub, but as yet, this hasn't happened. 

Above. The Bridge Inn\Bridge Hotel in 2006 

The inn was originally built as a private residence, in 1738. One of the spout heads bears the initials B.G.A. and the date 1738, believed to stand for Garnett Braithwaite, who, we are told, was the builder and owner. Braithwaite was the joint owner of a mill in the locality. The mill was, at first, a silk mill, then a pin mill, ceasing operations sometime around 1790.

Above. The Bridge Hotel in 2010 from Gooseholme 

The house was converted from a residence to a public house sometime around 1830. Brendan Jameson told me that the Bridge Inn did not appear in the directory lists of local pubs and inns before this time, so he concluded that its origin may have coincided with the advent of the 1830 Beerhouse Act, an Act of Parliament that liberalised regulations governing the brewing and selling of beer. The act enabled any rate paying member of the public, to brew and sell beer, the intention being that it would provide healthy competition between brewers, drive down prices, and ultimately encourage people to drink beer rather than strong spirits.

Above. The Bridge Hotel in 2009 from Stramongate Bridge

The Bridge Inn first appeared in the Borough directory of public houses, in 1849, when the landlord was named as John Pollitt.

Above. The sign, as it was in 2006

There is a mention of the inn in the Borough records in 1839, when it was reported that it was a meeting place for the local hunt....the licensee at this time being named as Mr Unsworth.

The inn was the scene of a death in 1838, when Agnes Stockdale died there. The inquest was held at the inn, with the Surgeon's verdict given as "Agnes died by the visitation of God".

By the end of the 19th century, the inn was a substantial property, with reports in 1892, stating that it had a dinning room capable of catering for 30 people, three drinking rooms, bedrooms to let, and stabling for around 25 horses. The status of the property was given as 'mixed' though I'm not sure what this related to. At this time, the licensee was given as George Gardner, under the ownership of Kendal Brewers Jonas Alexander and Sons Ltd.

Plans for a total refurbishment of the inn, were submitted to South Lakeland District Council in December 2018, though to date, these plans do not appear to have progressed at all.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Kendal, the Castle Inn

The Castle Inn
Castle Street
Kendal
Cumbria

Sadly, the Castle is another of Kendal's inns to fall by the wayside, succumbing to economic pressures of a failing high street. That said, the inn appears to have been in existence for a number of years, Brendan Jameson told me that he had information that the inn had been on Castle Street since the early 1700s, though written records only mention it from around 1834.

Above. The Castle Inn as it looked in 2006 

An article from the Westmorland Gazette in 1882, notes "In Peat Lane or Castle Street is an old established inn which was first kept by James Allen, then Thomas Russell. He was succeeded by his widow, then their son Richard took over. In 1882 the Landlord was James Bateman. It has never, to our knowledge, displayed a pictorial sign. In 1874 this house was advertised to be let and was described, together with its surrounding, as "all that ancient common garden with the dwelling house."  The dwelling house has recently been put to good repair and in the garden is a good bowling green" 

Above. The pub sign as it was in 2006 (there is an updated on hanging now)

John Todd's map of 1787 doesn't show any  buildings in this general area, just empty river side or open fields. 

Above. John Todd's map, showing Wildman Street, but no sign of Castle Street.

The early to mid 1820s was when some building started to appear in this area, and John Wood's map of 1833 shows a number of buildings here, but if the Castle Inn was built at this time, we have no way of knowing.

James Gandy, a wealthy local wool merchant, sold land for the building of Castle Street, where a plot of 594 square yards was conveyed to John Rudd, a Kendal weaver, in 1826. 

In 1849, James Tate was listed in Borough records, as landlord. In 1858, Thomas Russell was landlord. In 1897, the Castle inn was owned by Kendal brewers Messrs. Alexander and Sons Ltd.

Of course, those of us who frequented Kendal on a Friday or Saturday night would often pop in for a pint or two when Des and Babs Airey were landlords....but that's all in the dim and distant past now!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Kendal, the Slip Inn

The Slip Inn
Market Place
Kendal
Cumbria

The building once occupied by the Slip Inn is now home to Middleton's iron mongers in the market place.

  Above. Front of the inn facing onto the Market Place. 

Borough records state that the inn was owned by Isaac Kirkby until 1813. The yard running down the right hand side of the inn, the Slip Inn Yard, used to be home to a number of butchers, all with the reputation of leaving pools of entrails and effluent flowing down the yard.

  Above. Entrance down the side of the old inn building.

The inn was sold at auction along with the land lord's dwelling house in 1863 when it was owned by William Norman. Drastic changes were made to the frontage in 1865, when the overhanging jetted facade was removed. The Slip Inn ceased trading in 1898.

Kendal, Shakespeare Inn

Shakespeare Inn
Kendal
Cumbria

In 1829, it was reported in the Kendal press, that a new inn called the Shakespeare was to be built at the head of the yard that lead to the newly built theatre, and bankrolled by Mr Simpson of Watch Field (now known as Wattsfield) Simpson was well healed, having amassed a large personal fortune from the coach building trade, George III reputedly being one of his patrons.


He also bankrolled the theatre, built to designs by local architect John Richardson. The theatre and the inn opened in 1829, with theatre goers no doubt providing a steady stream of customers. However, under intense pressure from the local Quakers, Presbyterians and Temperance group, the theatre was forced to close only five years later. It was converted to a billiard room and ball room from this point on.


A map of 1872 shows the Shakespeare and its attendant buildings extending all the way back to Garth Heads at the top of Allhallows Lane, no doubt providing stabling and letting rooms for patrons. In 1869, Jabez Harper purchased the inn for £2430 after previously renting it. 


The 1892 borough Police records state that Jabez's wife, Ann, was the licensee. The inn  used to have both a side and front entrance, though the front entrance has now been changed to access for a separate property in the basement. It had ten letting rooms and seating for thirty people, and, reputedly, stabling for 85 horses....though the late Brendan Jameson thought this may have been unlikely given the space behind the inn.




Between 1921 and 1936, various alterations were made to the inn. The bar was moved, the rear of the inn was converted to a lounge area and several buildings to the rear were converted to additional staff and customer bedrooms.



From the mid to late 1920s, the inn was owned by the Collin Croft Brewery Company. By 1937 the inn was in the joint ownership of Messrs. W. Younger Ltd. and Collin Croft Brewery Ltd. In 1950, the inn was owned by three companies, Messrs. W. Younger Ltd, Colin Croft Brewery Ltd and Abbey and Hollyrood Breweries based out of Edinburgh.

By 1957\58, plans state that only Colin Croft Brewery were in ownership. In 1961, Scottish and Newcastle took over. Another survivor that seems to be thriving.

Kendal, The Fleece Inn

The Fleece Inn
Kendal
Cumbria

Generally accepted as one of Kendal's oldest surviving inns, if not the oldest, the Fleece is one of the most prominent survivors of our bygone pub history. According to local guide books and local historians, the date 1654 was found on a panel within the building, lending some tenuous support to the inn's age. It's also one of Kendal's few surviving timber framed buildings.

Above. Old postcard showing the Fleece Inn (from personal collection)

 Above. Old postcard showing the Fleece Inn (from personal collection)

Originally called the Golden Fleece, a reference to the symbol used by woolcombers guilds during annual guild processions, the inn was the starting point for the county of Westmorland's first stage coach service in 1772.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2006.

The Fleece inn is the only building along Strickland Gate that has retained its original jetted first floor, supported on five pillars. Old photos and postcards show many buildings with this sort of facade....all have been removed over the years.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2006.

It seems that, due to the small number of letting rooms available in the past (only six) the Fleece was never really regarded as one of Kendal's main inns, even though it had stabling for 28 horses....a slight imbalance.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2006.

As well as the main building, the smaller building to the left of the Fleece, was originally part of the inn, as were a number of buildings to the rear. Most were used for storage of beer, coal and other goods.

 Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2007.

In 1920, the inn was owned by the Westmorland Catering Company Ltd. In 1934, Rowland Hoggarth, previously of the Shakespeare, was the Fleece's owner. He remained there from 1925 until 1934. He sold the inn for around £32,000. During his ownership, the inn's landlady was his wife Martha.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2007.

By 1930, the Fleece was owned by North British Trust Hotels Ltd. and it was during this period of ownership, that the Fleece probably became one of Kendal's most prominent drinking establishments. It was so popular, that the owners had trouble finding accommodation for the additional staff.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn's sign, 2017.

By 1956, the Fleece was owned by local brewers, Collin Croft Brewery Co. Ltd. operating out of Collin Croft just off Beast Banks. The company was sold to Scottish Brewers Ltd. who later became Scottish and Newcastle some years later.

Above. Ye Olde Fleece Inn, 2019, after extensive renovation.

The inn's life during the 80s, 90s and 2000s has been a mixed bag of success, closure, renovation and reopening.....with its final incarnation appearing in February this year with a million pound rebuild resulting in the shiny new inn we see today. Fingers crossed the Fleece doesn't go the way of so many other town centre inns and pubs.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Penrith, Two Lions Inn

Two Lions Inn
Penrith
Cumbria

One of Penrith's oldest surviving buildings has been rescued (to a point!) and looks to have had its future secured. At the beginning of 2017 a group was set up, with the aim of securing this important building, weatherproofing it and enabling the ceiling decorations and other historical characteristics to be saved from decay. 

Above. The newly consolidated Two Lions Inn from Princes Street.

From Princes Street, the Two Lions and its accompanying stable block are remarkably different from 2007, when the building was showing very obvious signs of decay.

Above. Back in 2007, the front of the building was very different.


Above. The heavy studded door (repaired) is still in situ....its age...who knows?


Above. Unsightly ancillary buildings have been removed.

With the removal of ancillary buildings to the rear of the the Two Lions, more features have been discovered and renovated, showing the original windows and doors that were otherwise buried behind the old buildings.

Above, 2007, the rear of the Two Lions is hidden behind unsightly ancillary buildings.



Above. The building to the rear of the stable block.

The building to the rear of the stable block has had its unsightly coating removed, not only enabling the bricked up window to be re-opened,  but the discovery and re-opening of one window on the ground floor and a second at the first floor. Compare this with the original look back in 2007 (below)

Above. 2007.....What a difference.

The next step is to find some use for wat used to be the inn....at the moment the building, as I understand it, is empty. At the very least though, the interior is now protected from the weather, and the Lowther ceiling and other items of historical interest are protected from decay.

Previous photos and history of the Two Lions Inn can be found here.