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Rose Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
La Rose; La Roos

In the civil parish of Dalston.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY371462
Latitude 54.80633° Longitude -2.97991°

Rose Castle has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Castle, residence of the Bishop of Carlisle. Built on the site of an earlier castle: probably late C13 with licences to crenellate 1336 and 1355: Strickland Tower c1400-1419: 1488 tower for Bishop Bell: 1522-4 tower for Bishop Kite: partly destroyed during the Civil War and repaired by William Heveningham as a private house 1653-5: alterations of 1673-5 for Bishop Rainbow by William Thackery: alterations for Bishop Smith by Thomas Machell: alterations for Bishop Lyttelton 1762-9: extensive alterations and additions for Bishop Percy by Thomas Rickman 1828-31: alterations dated 1955. Chapel:1489 for Bishop Bell, altered 1660-63 for Bishop Sterne, altered 1673-5 for Bishop Rainbow by William Thackery and further alterations for Bishop Percy, as above. Large blocks of red sandstone on chamfered plinths; string courses and battlemented parapets; slate and lead roofs; tall C19 candlestick chimney stacks. Four 3-storey towers, hall and chapel in L-shape, forming 2 sides of an originally quadrangular shaped castle. Entrance facade: 3-storey entrance tower of 2-bays has pointed entrance and 2-light Gothic windows. Similar lower 2 bays to right are also by Rickman. Remains of C14 inner curtian wall to left now forms rear wall of chapel. Bell's Tower to left Strickland's Tower to extreme left attached by lowered inner curtain wall. Garden facade in L-shape: right is the chapel, with 2-light windows, larger on upper floor, 3-light east window. Broad buttress projecting from east wall supports C19 open Gothic bellcote. Strickland's Tower to extreme right has external stone steps to first floor entrance. Projecting circular stair turret from first floor continues above parapet. To left: hall with stone mullioned Gothic windows. End wall to left was altered in 1955 with 2-light stone mullioned windows in keeping with the building, dated over entrance. Rear facade: 3-storey Kite's Tower has blocked ground floor entrance and 2-light stone-mullioned windows. Percy's Tower and similar extension to left are by Rickman.
Curtain walls to Rose Castle. Early C14. Large blocks of coursed red sandstone on chamfered plinth to east and south with north-east wall on segmental vaulted arches. Low wall, formerly surrounding Rose Castle but now interrupted by outbuildings in south-west angle, reduced in height in the early C19 with C19 coping. Remains of a watch tower on the north-east wall.
Gateway and flanking buildings. Early C16 for Bishop Kite, with mid C18 alterations. Large blocks of red sandstone rubble. Gateway through curtain walls, with remains of Water Tower to left and lodge to right. Large segmental arch with C16 carved stone panel, of rose in quatrefoil and corner shields, above. Pedestrian pointed arch to right. Battlemented parapet. Former tower to left has blocked chamfered-surround entrance wich originally gave access to an outer watch tower built over the moat. Wall reduced in height and now gabled. Twin-gabled building to rear is an C18 gardener's storehouse with sandstone slate roofs. Lodge to right is mostly demolished but its outer walls form part of the curtain wall with an angle projection. Probably replaced an earlier drawbridge gatetower referred to in 1479.
Former Dovecote. Dated 1700 over entrance. Large blocks of coursed red sandstone (probably from part of the medieval castle) on squared plinth with flush quoins, gable string course; sandstone slate roof with coped gables and kneelers. Small, almost square, 1 1/2 storeys. Chamfered-surround entrance in gable wall, with dated lintel. Small oculi above. Small square opening in opposite gable. Interior has its complete boulins on 3 sides. Mention of a dovecote in a parliamentary survey of 1649 may indicate that the building is earlier than the date. Other references refer to the dovecote as having been a watch tower. (Listed Building Reports)

Supposedly built on site of motte and bailey castle, although Gatehouse is uncertain as to the evidence for this suggestion.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
  • Websites (Gatehouse is not responsible for the content of external websites.)
  • Books
    • Weston, David W.V., 2013, Rose Castle and the Bishops of Carlisle 1133-2012 (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 40)
      Grimsditch, Brian, Nevell, Michael and Nevell, Richard, 2012, Buckton Castle and the Castles of the North West England (University of Salford Archaeological Monograph 2) p. 115
      Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 269, 408
      Tatton-Brown, T.W T., 2004, 'Rose Castle' (Palace of the Bishops of Carlisle) in Mike McCarthy, David Weston (eds.), Carlisle and Cumbria : Roman and medieval architecture, art and archaeology (Leeds: British Archaeological Association, Conference Transactions, 27)
      Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 232, 234
      Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 216-7
      Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 167, 172
      Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 85
      Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 244-6, 263
      Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 46
      Cope, Jean, 1991, Castles in Cumbria (Cicerone Press) p. 96-8
      Jackson, M.J.,1990, Castles of Cumbria (Carlisle: Carel Press) p. 83-4 (plan)
      King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 90
      Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 160-3
      Pevsner, N., 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (London, Penguin) p. 181-2
      Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 189-90, 227-234
      Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
      Russell, Ada, 1911, 'Rose Castle' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 235-306 online copy
      Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 329-30 online copy
      Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 411, 416 online copy
      Jefferson, S., 1838, History and Antiquities of Carlisle p. 371-83 online copy
      Lysons, Daniel and Samuel, 1816, 'Antiquities: Castles' Magna Britannia Vol. 4: Cumberland p. ccii-ccvi, 91-2 online transcription
      Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 49
  • Periodical Articles
    • Nevell, Richard, 2012-13, 'Castle gatehouses in North West England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 26 p. 258-81 online copy
      2011, 'Campaigners plead with Whittam Smith to save Cumbrian castle' HeritageDaily (reprint of Guardian news release of 2010) online copy
      Aslet, Clive, 14 Sept 2011, 'Don’t let the Church sell off Rose Castle' The Telegraph online copy
      2010, 'Future of Rose Castle, Cumbria' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 23 p. 130 (news report)
      Robinson, J.M., 1989, 'Rose Castle, Cumberland: the seat of the Bishop of Carlisle' Country Life 183.47 p. 70-5
      Tyson, B., 1983, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society Vol. 27 p. 61-74
      Bulman, C.G., 1958, 'Rose Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 115 p. 246-7 online copy
      Rogan, J. and Birley, E., 1956, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 56 p. 132-41
      Martindale, 1928, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 28 p. 398-9
      Collingwood, W.G., 1923, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 23 p. 240
      Ferguson, C.J., 1888, 'Pigeon Houses in Cumberland' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 9 p. 425 online copy
      1882, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 39 p. 451-2 online copy
      Ferguson, C.J., 1874-5, 'The development of Domestic Architecture: Rose Castle and Dalston Hall' _Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society
      Vol. 2 p. 152-65
  • Guidebooks
    • Wilson, J., 1912, Rose Castle: the Residential Seat of the Bishop of Carlisle (Carlisle)
  • Primary (Medieval documents or transcriptions of such documents - This section is far from complete and the secondary sources should be consulted for full references.)
    • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1334-38) Vol. 3 p. 245 online copy
      Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1909, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1354-58) Vol. 10 p. 252 online copy
      Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 157-8
  • Antiquarian (Histories and accounts from late medieval and early modern writers)
    • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
      Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 97
      Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 56 online copy
  • Other sources: Theses; 'grey' literature; in-house reports; unpublished works; etc.
    • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)
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This record last updated on Saturday, November 15, 2014

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