Naworth Castle

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Naworth Castle


Naworth Castle air 1.jpg
Aerial photograph of Naworth Castle
Grid reference: NY559626
Location: 54°57’24"N, 2°41’22"W
Village: Brampton
Condition: Occupied
Owned by: Earl of Carlisle

Naworth Castle, also known as, or recorded in historical documents as "Naward", is a castle in Cumberland, near the village of Brampton. It stands today adjacent to the A69, about two miles east of Brampton. Facing it across the River Irthing is Lanercost Priory.

Naworth was once the seat of the Barons Dacre and is now that of their cognatic descendants, the Earls of Carlisle. It is a grade I listed building. [1]


The castle is thought to have late 13th-century origins, in the form of a square keep and bailey. It was first mentioned in 1323, and in 1335 a licence to crenellate was granted to Ralph Dacre, 1st Baron Dacre.

Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre (1467-1525), who commanded the reserve of the English army at the Battle of Flodden and was known as "the Builder Dacre", built the castle's gateway and placed over it his coat of arms with the Dacre family motto below: Fort en Loialte ("Strong in Loyalty").[2] There were further additions in 1602, for his successor Lord William Howard. It is likely that an 18th-century walled garden lies within the boundaries of the original moat.

Howard purchased the Dacre family estate back from King James I and took up residence with his children and grandchildren at Naworth Castle. He restored the castle, improved the estate and established order in that part of the country. He had a large family of children, of whom Philip, his heir, was the grandfather of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Carlisle, and his younger son Francis was the ancestor of the Howards of Corby.

William Morris, the artist, stayed at the castle in August 1874. In a letter to Aglaia Coronio he writes "...all is very pleasant. Ned & I pass our mornings in a most delightful room in one of the towers that has not been touched since William Howard of Queen Elizabeth's time lived there: the whole place is certainly the most poetical in England."[3]

From 1939 to 1940 Naworth was occupied by Rossall School, which had been evacuated from its own buildings by various government departments.

The castle is currently occupied by Philip Howard, brother and heir presumptive of the 13th Earl of Carlisle.[4]

1844 fire

On Saturday, 18 May 1844 the castle caught fire, possibly as a result of the ignition of some soot in the flue of the Porters Lodge. The structure's lack of internal walls allowed the fire to spread rapidly and it remained unchecked until it reached the northern wing. Although some property was saved, by the time two fire engines had arrived by train from Carlisle, most of the roof had collapsed and the fire had spread to nearly every room on the three sides of the quadrangle. Water had to be passed in buckets from a rivulet at the foot of a steep hill on the north side of the castle. "Belted Will’s Tower" was saved while the fire continued until around one o’clock on Sunday morning when it was brought under control.[5] Subsequent restoration was undetaken by the architect Anthony Salvin.[2]


  • The Castle has a well-preserved priest hole.
  • Francis Galton is said to have invented the concept of correlation at Naworth Castle.[6]
  • Sir Walter Scott described the castle as
    "one of those extensive baronial seats which marked the splendour of our ancient nobles, before they exchanged the hospitable magnificence of a life spent among a numerous tenantry, for the uncertain honours of court attendance, and the equivocal rewards of ministerial favour."[5]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Naworth Castle)


  1. National Heritage List 1087643: Naworth Castle
  2. 2.0 2.1 Naworth Castle in Bell's Weekly Messenger, 16 July 1855
  3. P. Henderson, ed., The Letters of William Morris to His Family and Friends (London: Longmans, 1950)
  4. Welcome to Naworth Castle
  5. 5.0 5.1 An Historical & Descriptive Account of Naworth Castle, and Lanercost Priory: With a Life of Lord William Howard, and an Account of the Destruction of Naworth Castle by Fire, May 18th, 1844 (I. Fletcher Whitridge, 1844), |pages vii-x1
  6. Life of Francis Galton by Karl Pearson Vol 2, p. 393