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cockermouth castle, cockermouth, cumbria.

Cockermouth Castle occupies a defensible position above the meeting of the rivers Cocker and Derwent, above Jennings Brewery. Sadly it is not open to the public.

A short history of Cockermouth Castle.

There is assumed to have been a castle occupying the site since the early C12th, this was probably an earthwork construction. This building was destroyed in 1221 and then a more substantial stone building was begun in 1225.

The castle passed through various hands by marriage or by grant during the following centuries, being extended at various dates over this time. In 1387 the castle was attacked and taken by Scots raiders who did considerable damage in their brief stay. It was necessary to rebuild the outer ward as a result. These works, together with the building of the various ranges within the curtain produced a considerable fortification.

Cockermouth Castle had passed by marriage into the control of the Percy family. Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland, had married the widow of Gilbert de Umfraville. This association with the Percy's remained for the next 200 years or so.

Castles were (and still are) very expansive to maintain, and it was not uncommon when there was a period of relative calm in these troubled lands to allow a castle to fall into disrepair. This fate befell Cockermouth as well as many others in Cumberland and Westmorland.

Such was the disrepair of the castle that when Mary Queen of Scots came to Cockermouth in 1568 she stayed at the now demolished Cockermouth Hall.

The Crown had appropriated the castle in 1537, 7 years after the Percies had given the castle over to Thomas Wharton. In 1557 it was given back to the Percies and the taken away again in 1569 eventually returned to them in 1578. Over the following decades the castle fell further into disrepair and eventually near ruin.

Cockermouth Castle saw some action in the English Civil War being besieged and then relieved in 1649. What little of the defences that were left after this action, and given its parlous state by then anyway were destroyed in 1650. Cockermouth Castle had been under the control of a Parliamentary force during this time and it can be presumed that they carried out this destruction in order to stop the castle being used by any Royalist force advancing out of Scotland under Charles II King of Scotland.

Move on a hundred years and the Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont is in possession of the Castle. It has stayed with this family to date. Rebuilt and consolidated in degrees over the years, Cockermouth Castle is an impressive site when seen from the opposite bank of the River Derwent.


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