Greystoke is about 6 miles North West of Penrith, and about 2 miles North of the A66. There has been a castle here, or at least a fortified dwelling, since 1353. At this date, William, Lord of Greystoke was granted license to crenellate, in a license granted at Westminster on the 5th of October. This fortified tower, lay at the North end of the Greystoke site, and would have measured about 13 feet by 11 feet. Unfortunately for us, it was mostly demolished during alterations that took place in 1789. The castle passed to the Grimthorpe family, and then from around 1506 to 1569, the castle was held by the Dacre family. The Howard family then took ownership from 1595. The castle was captured by Parliamentarian forces in 1648, and was burnt and severely damaged. From this time, it lay in ruins, until some rebuilding was conducted in the 1670’s, by Henry Charles Howard.
About 200 yards to the North of the castle, the earthwork remains of what has been described as a civil war battery can still be seen. It’s likely that from here, Parliamentarian forces would have fired up on the castle during the brief siege in 1648.
The castle and its grounds are private, and are only accessible by customers of the Corporate Hospitality, outdoor management training facilities and the nearby outdoor activity centre.
Check out Simon Ledingham's aerial photo of the castle.
Initially, it's thought that the first building on this site may have been a 12th century tower, but there are certainly no remains of this building. What can be seen today, dates from the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century...with each period of rebuilding and extending adding more character to the house and further masking any original features. The 15th century portion of the house, which can be seen as the central bay of the above photo, could possibly represent part of a pele tower...but could just as easily be the remaining visible parts of the original Tudor country house. Whatever the origin of this site, it's included here for it's regional importance.
According to plans of the building, there are two possible parts of the existing hall that could represent these fortified beginnings. The first is the outermost room, on the right hand side of the photo shown above. This could be a 17th century tower, with the thick walls still remaining along with a newel staircase in one corner. This part of the building has been redressed and incorporated into the later hall so well, that it is now virtually indistinguishable from the newer parts of the building. The second part, is buried deep within the hall, with possibly only one thick wall remaining. These possible tower remnants are undated, and once again, indistinguishable from the later hall.
The house was owned in the 1680's, by Sir Edward Hassell, Lady Anne Clifford's steward. The house has remained in the Hassell family ever since.
The house is open Sunday to Thursday from March to October, and parking and entry to the gardens is free. Great views can be had from the gardens, and from the grass verges along the A592.
The mound of earth and boulders, probably represents the remains of the original 12th century tower.
This tower, built in the 12th century, was superceded by the current hall and tower.
This has to be one of the better preserved towers in the area, and is easily visible from the roadside.
The tower was secured by a sturdy oak panelled door or a yett, with two iron draw bars that fit into a deep groove in the wall.
The oak is re-enforced with iron bands that run from end to end, horizontally and vertically. It weighs heavily too, but opens very smoothly on its hinges. The roof of the ground floor of the tower is vaulted, with a very shallow arch. The door to the upper floors was unfortunately locked, but apparently there is a fireplace on the first floor with a gravestone used as a lintel above, dating from around 1290.An effigy of Thomas de Caldebec, from about 1320, lays on the floor of the Chancel. Thomas was the Rector of Great Salkeld in 1319. The church seems to be open most days, and is well worth a visit.