Penrith Castle

Penrith Visiting Castle

Penrith Castle was first built in 1397 as a defence against Scottish raids. Once a royal residence for Richard III, after serving as a Parliamentarian headquarters in the Civil War, the castle eventually crumbled down and became the magnificent ruins we can see today.

Parking

There are a few parking spaces available near the Penrith Castle Park entrance. Additionally, there are also on-street parking spots and several parking lots around Penrith town.

If you wish to plan your visit to Penrith Castle and explore the town, please visit the Eden District Council web page for Penrith Car Parks and the Town Map of Penrith.

Price

Entry to Penrith Castle and the park surrounding the castle is free for English Heritage members and the public.

Opening

Penrith Castle is open daily and its visiting hours corresponds to that of the surrounding parkland:

  • 31 March to September: 7.30 am - 9 pm
  • October to 30 March: 7.30 am - 4.30 pm

Location and Access

Penrith Castle is located at Castle Terrace, Penrith CA11 7EA, United Kingdom.

This castle is very easy to reach, both by road and rail.

It’s a 3-minute drive away from the heart of the town. When visiting Penrith Castle by car, it is important to note there is a one-way system around the town centre.

Penrith Castle is located just opposite Penrith Railway Station. The station is part of the West Coast Main Line railway corridor, connecting the United Kingdom’s major cities, including London, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, and more.

Know Before You Go

    • The parking spaces near the park entrance are almost always full. Please check Penrith Car Parks for more information on parking around the town.
    • There are various activities you can do while visiting, including tennis and obstacle golf. Though entrance to the park is free, you need to pay for the games and rent the equipment.
    • The castle and its surrounding park have disabled access. However, there are steps leading to certain parts of the castle.

 

History of Penrith Castle

Built at the end of the 14th century, Penrith Castle was used to defend England against the Scots. Ralph Neville chose an old Roman encampment for the site and it stayed in his family until 1471, when it fell into disrepair. Though it had a few further owners, it was never used as a residence again.

Time Line


-1397

The title “Earl of Westmorland” was created and granted to Ralph Neville as his reward after supporting King Richard. Ralph Neville was also given the manor of Penrith.

-1399 

The 1st Earl of Westmorland, Ralph Neville, built Penrith Castle to defend England against Scottish raids.

Unlike most castles, Penrith Castle was not built at the top of the hill. Situated around 170 metres (557.74 ft) away from the highest point of the hill, Penrith Castle was likely built on the site of an old Roman encampment site or fort.

-1425

Penrith Castle was passed down to Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury. 

Richard Nevile was Ralph Neville’s son from his second marriage. After receiving his inheritance, Richard Neville’s ownership of Penrith Castle and several other properties was disputed by his step-nephew, Ralph Neville, 2nd Earl of Westmorland.

-1443

A settlement was made regarding the property dispute, though it had unequal terms. It was decided that Penrith Castle would remain under Richard Neville.

-1444

The lordship of Penrith Castle was leased to Marmaduke Lumley, Bishop of Carlisle.

-1460

Richard Neville passed away. Penrith Castle was passed down to Richard, Earl of Warwick, also known as the “Kingmaker.”

-1471

Richard, Earl of Warwick, lost his life at the Battle of Barne. As he had no male heir, Penrith Castle was subsequently seized by the Crown. 

King Edward IV granted Penrith Castle to Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard lived at Penrith Castle while serving as the sheriff of Cumberland. His duty includes protecting the county against the Scots and controlling rival local families. 

-1483

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, became King Richard III. Penrith Castle remains as the Crown’s property, but it’s no longer used as a permanent royal residence.

-1485

Richard III was usurped and slain. However, Penrith Castle is still under the ownership of the Crown as it slowly decays.

-1565

Penrith Castle remains empty. At this point, parts of the building sustained damage due to old age and lack of maintenance. The castle was already described as a ruin.

-1648 

Penrith Castle was briefly used as a headquarters for John Lambert, a Parliamentarian general. After the Civil War, the castle was dismantled.

-1696

King William III granted the property to his friend, Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland.

-1787

The Earls and Dukes of Portland sold Penrith Castle to the Dukes of Devonshire. Again, the castle was not used as a residence. 

The Dukes of Devonshire later sold it to Lancaster & Carlisle Railway Company. Penrith Castle would change ownership again to the Penrith Urban District Council.

-The 1920s

Various farm buildings and a house standing on the Penrith Castle grounds were demolished. 

After clearing out the castle grounds, Penrith Urban District Council converted it into a public park.

Today, English Heritage lists Penrith Castle as a designated Grade I listed building.

Castle Occupants

First built to protect England against Scottish raids, Penrith Castle was eventually transformed into a luxurious royal residence. It was once home to a future king, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who became Richard III.

Here are some of the most notable occupants of Penrith Castle:

  • Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland
  • Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury
  • Marmaduke Lumley, Bishop of Carlisle
  • Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, the “Kingmaker”
  • Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III
  • Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland

Images of Castle

Penrith Castle Penrith Castle
Penrith Castle Penrith Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Castle Facts

  • The name “Penrith” is of British origins and likely means “the red hill or summit.” However, some experts have also debated that “Penrith” may mean "chief ford," "the head of the ford," "hill ford," or "ford end."
  • The site of the castle was likely an ancient Roman encampment site or fort.
  • Penrith Castle was first built as a defence against Scottish raids.
  • Penrith Castle was once owned by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who eventually became Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.
  • Penrith Castle Park’s main entrance features a war memorial. Called the War Memorial Gateway, it honours the fallen soldiers of WWI and WWII. 
  • Within the Penrith Castle stands the Black Angel Memorial, dedicated to those who fought and lost their lives in the Boer War.

Castle Q&A

Is Penrith Castle Dog-Friendly?

Dogs on leads and guide dogs may visit Penrith Castle and its surrounding Park. BringFido has a list of pet-friendly hotels and lodgings that are ready to welcome you and your furry friend when visiting Penrith, Cumbria.

Is Penrith Castle Wheelchair Accessible?

Penrith Castle is wheelchair accessible, and there are accessible parking spots around Penrith Castle Park. There are also ramps available, though there are some steps to access certain parts of the castle.

What Are the Facilities Available at Penrith Castle Park?

There are various facilities in the park, including toilets, a café, a children’s playground, tennis courts, a bowling green, a putting and obstacle golf area, and plenty of shops.

Can I Bring a Picnic?

You can bring a picnic when visiting Penrith Castle. The surrounding park is dotted with lovely rose gardens, flower beds, and grassy areas, perfect for a picnic.

Location of Castle

Penrith Castle is located in the charming market town of Penrith, a county in Cumbria in the northwest of England. It is located around 100 miles (160.93 km) north of Manchester.

The mailing address is Castle Terrace, Penrith CA11 7EA, United Kingdom.

Other Places To Visit Near Castle

When you’re in Penrith, you can explore various other fascinating historical sites, museums, pubs, and restaurants. 

Mayburgh Henge

Just 1.25 miles (2.01 km) away from Penrith Castle lies a magnificent Neolithic henge called Mayburgh Henge. It’s part of the scenic Brougham and Eamont Bridge trail devised by Eden Rivers Trust. 

This impressive prehistoric monument was believed to be constructed 4,500 years ago. It was thought there used to be a pair of standing stones, but today, only one remains. 

Some sources say it may have been removed to provide building material for Penrith Castle.

King Arthur’s Round Table

After visiting Mayburgh Henge, don’t forget to visit King Arthur’s Round Table as well. This majestic yet peaceful site is a Neolithic earthwork henge, dating between 2000 and 1000 BC. 

It received its unique name in the 17th century due to its circular shape. Back then, it was believed to be King Arthur’s favourite jousting arena.

King Arthur’s Round Table is only about 1.9 miles (3 km) south of Penrith Castle. And much like Mayburgh Henge, this site is also part of the Brougham and Eamont Bridge trail. 

Brougham Castle

Just 3 miles (4.82 km) west of Penrith Castle stands another picturesque castle, Brougham Castle. Additionally, it is also part of the scenic Brougham and Eamont Bridge trail. 

This beautiful 13th-century castle was also a barrier against Scottish raiders.

The castle features spiral stairways and winding passages, making it a fascinating complex to explore. Surrounded by a grassy meadow, the site is also ideal for a picnic or an afternoon stroll.

Penrith and Eden Museum

Visit Penrith and Eden Museum to explore Penrith’s art, social, culture, and history. The museum is housed in the old Robinson's School building, which was used as a school for poor girls.

Its galleries contain a collection of ancient fossils, Roman coins and jewellery, local minerals, the medieval seal of Penrith, local art, and more. Additionally, the museum also hosts a series of events and activities throughout the year.

It’s a fascinating site that’s worth the visit!