Appleby Castle, packed with history reaching back to the Roman age, and carrying on through to the Normans, great Kings, the Clifford family (especially lady Anne Clifford), through the civil war and beyond to the present day. Over the hundreds of years Appleby Castle retains remnants of its early history combined with how each age has left its mark up until today.
A castle that has kept a lot of its historic soul, a castle that you stay in and feel the ambience that you would expect. A place to see and learn, a place to experience the past, a place to spoil yourself.
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The first sign of history can be seen from much of the area around the town of Appleby. It is known that the Romans used this spot, overlooking the River Eden, as a signal point.
The Normans came later and in the 12th Century they began to make the castle itself. Today you will the Norman Keep, known as Caesar’s Tower, this Keep was built in the early 12th Century and stands magnificently to this day.
Geographically it was taken by the Scots soon after on one of their invasions but once regained by Henry II in 1157 the castle came into the property of Hugh de Morville, one of the knights who murdered Thomas Beckett.
In the 13th Century Appleby Castle came into the possession of Roger de Clifford, and the Clifford family retained it for over 400 years. It was in this period that much of the castle took shape towards today.
The ownership of Lady Anne Clifford
Perhaps the most famous resident of Appleby Castle was Lady Anne Clifford, who restored it immensely in the mid 1600s and made it her home. Throughout the Yorkshire Dales and the Eden Valley, Cumbria you will come across castles that were once turned back to glory during her ownership. I have done articles on some of already, for example the lovely Brougham Castle, the romantically situated Pendragon Castle, and the once so important Brough Castle. In fact all these are easy to visit when staying at Appleby Castle, a perfect location it is for a historic sight-seeing adventure.
Appleby Castle is the one of the Lady Anne castles that is not a ruin today. It was her favourite after all. After Lady Anne the castle was passed through the Earls of Thanet. They made much of the castle more mansion like. When you see the castle together with the keep you will see all these elements all wonderfully blended together to show the passing of the ages and styles. It really is a unique and historic building. And it keeps on getting historic and spectacular inside.
The rooms you can stay in have been done in a way that you are stepping back in time, or should I say sleeping. Literally. it feel as if you are staying in an authentic castle. Each room is unique and all adorned with artifacts from many many years ago. 4 poster beds from hundreds of years ago, intricate needlework cloth adorning walls and furniture that would surely provide antique experts some thought.
The great hall
The castle is full of rooms beyond the bedrooms, packed with history. Take a rest in the Great Hall. Great paintings from former residents adorn the walls with shields. Splendid armour on display above the fireplace from the time of Queen Elizabeth. George Clifford was the Queen’s favourite jouster.
What helps to add to your wonderful stay in the castle? Some wonderful dining whilst sat in elegant history. Sit in the ambience of hundreds of years ago and enjoy a lovely evening meal, or your breakfast that is carefully and tastefully prepared. Wonderful.
Walking the grounds
I have only just touched the sides so far of what this captivating building has to offer. This building is the centrepiece of the Eden valley and around the buildings the grounds are equally as spectacular. When I lived in the area it was an absolute joy to walk the dogs around. With tranquil riverside paths and views over Appleby and across the Eden Valley.
There are pathways leading in all directions leading to a whole variety of interesting views and architecture. One of my favourite pathways here is the tunnel of yew trees. These were reputed to have been planted by Lady Anne Clifford herself. The light hits them perfectly and is a gem of a start to a castle gardens walk.
A Fascinating Accommodation
The castle today has been wonderfully made into a place you can stay, but do not think it is your traditional hotel-cum-castle. The history here is there to see, not transformed into a pseudo history that has to try hard to keep the historical castle setting. As well as rooms in the castle you can stay in one of the holiday cottages that are part of the castle bailey. Absolutely perfect for a family accommodation in the Eden Valley.
As well as accommodation the castle provides full tours for those wanting to learn yet not stay. Plus now it is also a dream wedding venue too for those wanting a full, castle, fairytale wedding. For all this you can find out more information on the Appleby Castle website.
I have stayed many times myself before and I will do many times again. It is a true favourite of myself and BaldHiker.