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Howgill Castle

In the civil parish of Milburn.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY66522932
Latitude 54.65777° Longitude -2.52057°

Howgill Castle has been described as a certain Tower House.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


The castle was built in the last quarter of the 14th century, on an H plan, which is unusual in the Border Country. Here the original design is an interesting variant: Two massive pele-towers with a central hall block. In the 17th century a block containing the great staircase was added on the NW side of the building and remodelling took place in th 18th century, when gabled roofs were added to the towers and the central block was raised to the same height as the wings. The front now shows no evidence of the earlier building except at the top of the E wing. (PastScape)

Howgill Castle, house 1,450 yards E.N.E. of the church, is of three storeys; the walls are of rough ashlar and the roofs are slate-covered. The property belonged to the family of Lancaster in the 14th and part of the 15th century and passed from them to the Crackanthorpe and Sandford families. The main structure, consisting of a central block and crosswings, was built probably late in the 14th century. Some minor work was done in the 16th century and in the 17th century a block was added on the N.W. side of the earlier central block. In this was placed the late 17th-century great staircase. In the 18th century, probably in 1733, the date on a rain-water head, the building was remodelled; the S.E. front was entirely transformed, the parapets of the side wings being removed and the central part carried up to the same height; at the same time the interior was almost entirely modernised.
Though much altered the house is still an interesting example of a mediæval semi-fortified building. (RCHME 1936)

Hall with cross-wings, probably dating from C14 with later additions and alterations. Walls faced with sandstone blocks with additions to rear of coursed, squared rubble; front and south side pebble-dashed. Graduated slate roofs, hipped to front of wings, with outshut to hall at rear; mid stone chimneys. Rear gable to north wing incorporates moulded embrasures of original projecting parapet. 2 storeys with attics, 5 bays (2.3.2.). Front wall to hall rebuilt and rest of front remodelled c1733 (date on rainwater head). Symmetrical except for retention of C16 mullioned and transomed attic window in north wing, all others being sashes with glazing bars in architraves (one only to wings' ground floors). Central plank door in architrave with segmental pediment. Other mullioned windows (some blocked) to north side and rear. South side of rear addition has two C17 carved stone panels with cherubs and swags, set high up in wall (similar carving to ornate fireplace in 1st floor hall). Internally, ground floor of each wing is barrel-vaulted. Original walls are c10 ft thick and incorporate garderobes, stairs, and mural passages, one of which (to 1st floor at rear of hall, accessible via a trap-door) has shouldered arches with inner trefoil heads. (Listed Building Report)

Restored in 1967 and now inhabited.
The house is in the form of two towers with a hall between but this forms an integral building with the 'hall' now as tall as the towers. This was a baronial building so a tower house in the terms used in Gatehouse.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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