Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Border Castles, Westmorelandshire

Carlisle CathedralAt Kendal, in Westmorelandshire, are the ruins of Kendal Castle, a relic of the Norman days, but long since gone to decay. Here lived the ancestors of King Henry VIII.'s last wife, Queen Catharine Parr. Opposite it are the ruins of Castle How, and not far away the quaint appendage known as Castle Dairy, replete with heraldic carvings. It was in the town of Kendal that was made the foresters' woollen cloth known as "Kendal green," which was the uniform of Robin Hood's band.

In the northern part of the county, on the military road to Carlisle, are the ruins of Brougham Castle, built six hundred years ago. It was here that the Earl of Cumberland magnificently entertained King James I. for three days on one of his journeys out of Scotland. It is famous as the home of the late Henry, Lord Brougham, whose ancestors held it for many generations. The manor-house, known as Brougham Hall, has such richness, variety, and extent of prospect from its terraces that it is called the "Windsor of the North." Lord Brougham was much attached to his magnificent home, and it was here in 1860 that he finished his comprehensive work on the British Constitution, and wrote its famous dedication to the queen, beginning with the memorable words, "Madame, I presume to lay at Your Majesty's feet a work the 'result of many years' diligent study, much calm reflection, and a long life's experience." In close proximity to the castle is the Roman station Brocavum, founded by Agricola in A.D. 79. Its outline is clearly defined, the camp within the inner ditch measuring almost one thousand feet square. Various Roman roads lead from it, and much of the materials of the outworks were built into the original Brougham Castle.

The Solway and its firth divide England from Scotland, and this borderland has been the scene of many deadly feuds, though happily only in the days long agone. The castle of Carlisle was a noted border stronghold, built of red sandstone by King William Rufus, who rebuilt Carlisle, which had then lain in ruins two hundred years because of the forays of the Danes. Richard III. enlarged the castle, and Henry VIII. built the citadel. Here Mary Queen of Scots was once lodged, but in Elizabeth's time the castle fell into decay. In the town is a fine cathedral, which has been thoroughly restored. In a flat situation north of Carlisle are the ruins of Scaleby Castle, once a fortress of great strength, but almost battered to pieces when it resisted Cromwell's forces. There are several acres enclosed within the moat, intended for the cattle when driven in to escape the forays that came over the border. This venerable castle is now a picturesque ruin. Twelve miles north-east of Carlisle is Naworth Castle, near where the Roman Wall crossed England. This is one of the finest feudal remains in Cumberland, having been the stronghold of the Wardens of the Marches, who guarded the border from Scottish incursions. It stands amid fine scenery, and just to the southward is the Roman Wall, of which many remains are still traced, while upon the high moorland in the neighborhood is the paved Roman Road, twelve feet wide and laid with stone. At Naworth there was always a strong garrison, for the border was rarely at peace, and

"Stern on the angry confines Naworth rose,
In dark woods islanded; its towers looked forth
And frowned defiance on the angry North."

Here lived, with a host of retainers, the famous "belted Will"—Lord William Howard, son of the fourth Duke of Norfolk—who in the early part of the seventeenth century finally brought peace to the border by his judicious exercise for many years of the Warden's powers. It is of this famous soldier and chivalrous knight, whose praises are even yet sung in the borderland, that Scott has written—

"Howard, than whom knight
Was never dubbed more bold in fight,
Nor, when from war and armor free.
More famed for stately courtesy."

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