Carlisle Castle: A brief history.
She was then transported on to more secure surroundings at Bolton Castle. Whilst at Carlisle, Mary was allowed to walk the castle walls, attend church and even walk with her retinue outside the castle walls. She also liked to watch her retinue play football in the fields beyond the confines of the castle. Mary’s apartments were situated in the South Eastern part of the castle’s inner court. Here, in a tower that was probably one of the most ancient parts of the castle, and most certainly the original Norman gatehouse, Mary lived in relative comfort.
Charles mismanagement of the United Kingdom he had inherited from James brought about civil war, and once again, Carlisle became an essential military stronghold. The castle was re-fortified and essential repairs were made to the building’s fabric. New batteries were added to the South West and North West corners of the outer bailey, and additional guns were positioned on the Eastern side of the castle’s curtain wall. The re-fortifications were essential and timely, as in October 1644, a Scottish army besieged the castle, dug in, and prepared to wait for the castle to fall. The whole city endured the siege, melting down what precious metals they could lay their hands on in order to pay the defending troops. For eight months the siege continued, and it was only after Charles was defeated at the battle of Naseby, that all hope seemed to evaporate of Royal troops coming to the city’s aid. Charles’s supporters marched out of the city and the castle on the 28th of June 1645, and the besieging Scots entered as victors. The city’s new occupiers took stone from the cathedral, and used it to repair the battered city walls and the castle. They also built a new fort in Carlisle Market, constructing it with bastions and loop holes for small arms to be fired from. With a Parliamentarian victory, and the execution of Charles I, the Scottish occupiers were removed from Carlisle, and in turn, at the Restoration, the return of Charles II to his rightful place on the throne of a United Kingdom, the Parliamentarians were ousted, and the city was once again returned to the Crown.
However, at the death of Charles II in 1685, his brother James II, a Roman Catholic convert from 1668 or 1689, ascended to the throne. His son, James, Prince of Wales (The Old Pretender) should legitimately have been his successor in turn, however, his father the king was deposed and sent into exile by a wary Protestant government. James II’s successors were the Dutch royals, crowned as William III and Mary II. The Glorious Revolution, as it is known, was essentially a bloodless coup, initiated by the government to preserver traditional English values and to oppose James II’s ideals of absolutism. James was exiled to France, and his son, the Old Pretender jumpstarted the Jacobite movement. Carlisle and the North Western border area was from this time forward, the main route that those backing the Jacobite cause would take to try and press their claim. The Jacobites first made their move on the 23rd of March 1708, launching an attempted invasion from the sea, with the aid of French ships, at the Firth of Forth. Their advance was blocked by the English navy. The Old Pretender’s main backers, the French were defeated, and it seemed that the threat to England and its throne was receding. However, in 1715, under the leadership of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender) the Jacobite cause was once again re-ignited and on the 9th of November 1745, Prince Charlie’s army entered Cumberland with the sole aim of taking Carlisle.
It seems that Carlisle really didn’t favour the young prince, but the garrison was in such a poor state of repair and readiness, that it was taken in a mere six days. The main reason behind this easy picking was that Marshal Wade’s army was away from the city, in Newcastle. With the city taken, Prince Charlie decided to leave and march his army South. In the event, he got as far as Derby, before being forced to return to Scotland due the apparent lack of support. At Carlisle again, the Duke of Cumberland caught up with Prince Charlie’s retreating army, and they were forced to find refuge in Carlisle castle. On the 30th of December, after being bombarded for a short time, the Jacobite army surrendered. Prince Charlie had already fled England by this time, making his way eventually to France, where he spent most of the rest of his life.
For those Jacobites caught and taken prisoner at Carlisle Castle, their fate was sealed. A number were hanged or imprisoned within the confines of the castle, whilst others were sent into permanent exile. A group of those imprisoned were subsequently hanged about a month later.
The Jacobite cause was defeated, and the castle was handed over to the people of the city. The castle became simply a backdrop to the city of Carlisle, with no serious threat or otherwise on the horizon. In 1819, soldiers once again actively returned to the castle in response to the growing call for a revolution in England (similar to that in France) and once again the city and castle were fully garrisoned. A period of rebuilding was committed, with buildings being erected in the outer bailey.
The armoury was converted to the Arroyo barracks in 1827.
A canteen was added in 1829, and called Gallipoli.
A barracks was added in 1836, and called Ypres.
A military prison was built in 1840.
A court was added in 1841.
In 1872\73 Carlisle castle became the headquarters of the newly re-organised 34th and 55th Westmorland Regiments. The two bodies were then amalgamated in 1881, as the Border Regiment. In 1959, the castle became the headquarters of the newly created King’s Own Border Regiment, and today plays host to the Regimental museum.
The last time the castle was armed, as a tool of war, defence or otherwise, was during the Second World War, when a machine gun was mounted on the summit of the castle keep.