The Jewel in the Eden Valley

The history of Appleby Castle reaches back to Roman times when a fort existed on the site to protect the crossing over the River Eden. An excavation in the 1960’s revealed the remains of a Roman Well in the basement of the Castle.

The Keep is one of the few intact Norman Keeps in Great Britain and at over 900 years old is the oldest part of Appleby Castle.

The Castle has a rich and varied history. It has been held by the Kings of Scotland and England. Perhaps it’s most famous resident was Lady Anne Clifford who did much for the Castle and surrounding area.


75 to 150

The Romans build a signal station on the cliff overlooking the ford on the River Eden, close to the road from York (Eboracum) to Carlisle (Luguvallium).

380 to 430

Roman helmet

The Romans leave Britain.

400 to 600

Urien, King of Rheged, was lord of the valley of Lyvennet, a few miles west of Appleby.

630 to 830

Part of the Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. An independent British Kingdom of Cumbria remained in the northern Lake District.


Drawing of a Viking longboat

Over-run by Danes under Halfdan. Orm settles at Ormside nearby.


Appleby founded as a Danish settlement, the name meaning ‘apple-place’.


After driving the Danes from York, King Edmund I of England turned Cumbria over to Malcolm I, King of the Scots, in return for a promise of military support.


King William Rufus of England occupied Cumbria and installed Ivo Taillebois as first Norman Lord of Westmorland. Ivo began building first motte and bailey castle earthwork.

1100 to 1120

Ranulf le Meschin completed earthworks and probably built first stone keep.

1136 to 1157

Ceded to Scots. Hugh de Morville and his son, also Hugh, in succession granted Barony of Westmorland.


Drawing of King Henry II

King Henry II regains Appleby and confirms the grant to the younger Hugh de Morville – one of the Knights who later murdered Thomas Becket.


De Morville supports a rebellion by King Henry’s son, who allied himself with the Scots.


King William the Lion of Scotland captures Appleby Castle in a dawn raid, aided by the garrison. The Castle and Tower are recorded by Jordan Fantosme in his chronicle, showing both were present. The constable, Gospatric, son of Orm and grandson of Gospatric, a Scottish Earl, fined five hundred marks for surrendering. Hugh de Morville’s estates are forfeit. Appleby returns to the Crown.


King Henry II grants the Castle and the Honour of Westmorland to Ranulph de Glanville, Sheriff of Yorkshire. Sometime between 1175 and 1189 the Keep is raised, the curtain walls rebuilt in stone, and a Great Hall is built at the east end of the bailey.


King Richard 'the Lion Heart' in battle

King Richard the Lionheart takes the Castle back into Royal possession rebuilds the bridge over the moat in 1198.


King John gives the Barony of Westmorland, including the Castle to his henchman Robert de Vipont, nephew of Hugh de Morville, whose family hold it for 100 years. The Round Tower on the north side dates from this period, with other Round Towers on the south, now vanished.

1263 & 1264

The second Robert de Vipont takes part in Simon de Montfort’s rebellion against King Henry III. He dies a rebel in 1264 and his estates are seized by King Henry III. His daughters Isabella and Idonea are placed under the King’s guardianship.


Wardship of Isabella granted to Roger Clifford the elder – who obtains pardon for treason of his ward’s father.


The Clifford family's coat of Arms

Roger Clifford the younger marries Isabella de Vipont and by 1275 is in possession of Appleby Castle and the manor of Brougham. While Roger de Leyburn, husband of Idonea, holds Brough and Pendragon.


King Edward I visits Appleby, lodging at the Friary.


Robert Clifford, first Lord Clifford, one of the English commanders, killed at Bannockburn.

1314 to 1322

Scottish raids. Appleby town burnt. Castle holds out against Scots in four attacks.

1322 & 1323

Roger, second Lord Clifford, rebels against King Edward II and is wounded and captured. He escapes execution but his lands are forfeited. Appleby Castle briefly held by Andrew de Harcla before his execution for treason.


King Edward II overthrown, succeeded by his son King Edward III. Peace with Scotland. Robert, 3rd Lord Clifford, brother of Roger, restored to family estates including Appleby Castle.


Death of Idonea de Leyburn without children. Her lands pass to Robert Clifford, who entertains King Edward Balliol of Scotland at Brougham.


Roger, fifth Lord Clifford inherits the Castle, carries out further works there.


Major Scottish raids. Appleby town laid waste, but the Castle seems to have held out and not been captured.


Thomas Clifford, son of Roger, dies on crusade. Appleby Castle said to be “ruinous”.


John, seventh Lord Clifford builds great gatehouse and probably restores the rest of the Castle.


John Clifford fights at Againcourt. Castle used as a court and prison.


John Clifford killed at siege of Meaux.


Line drawing off the Norman Keep at Appleby Castle

Thomas, 8th Lord Clifford undertakes major building works at the Castle, reconstructing the Great Hall, Kitchen, Chapel, Great Chamber and other main rooms in the eastern range and building square towers at either end of the range.


Thomas Clifford killed at 1st battle of St Albans, possibly by Richard Neville Earl of Warwick (‘Warwick the Kingmaker’).


John Clifford assumes his father’s lands and titles. Becomes major Lancastrian leader in the North.

1457 & 1458

Further Scots raids. No assizes (Royal Court sessions) at Appleby.


John Clifford kills the Duke of York and his young son the Earl of Rutland, earning the nick-name ‘the Butcher’.


John Clifford killed in battle. Lancastrian cause destroyed at Towton. John Clifford attainted (declared traitor) by Yorkist King Edward IV.

1461 to 1485

Lordship of Westmorland held by Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III). Appleby Castle probably in the hands of Sir John Parr of Kendal.


Illustration of King Richard III

Battle of Bosworth. Yorkist Richard III defeated, Tudor Henry VII restores castle to Henry, 10th Lord Clifford, known as the ‘Shepherd Lord’.


Shepherd Lord, Henry Clifford dies.


Drawing of King Henry VIII

Henry, 11th Lord Clifford, made 1st Earl of Cumberland by his childhood friend, King Henry VIII.


Rebellion in the North known as ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’. Henry Clifford defended Skipton and his son, Sir Thomas, defended Carlisle.


Appleby described by Leland as “a poor village, having a ruinous Castle wherein the prisoners be kept”.


Lady Anne Clifford owner of Appleby Castle

Lady Anne Clifford born at Skipton, only surviving child of George Clifford, third Earl of Cumberland, famous sea-captain and champion to Queen Elizabeth.


George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, dies leaving estates to his brother the 4th Earl. Lady Anne disinherited.


Lady Anne Clifford married Richard Sackville, Earl of Dorset.

1616 to 1617

Furious dispute over Westmorland estates. King James I confirms Lady Anne’s dispossession.


The Earl of Dorset dies.


Lady Anne marries Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery.


Lady Anne inherits the Westmorland and Yorkshire estates on the death of her cousin the 5th Earl of Cumberland. However she is unable to visit them because of the Civil War.


Lady Anne at last travels to Skipton and onwards to Appleby following a lull in the Civil War and the execution of King Charles I.


Lady Anne begins restoration of Appleby Castle, inserting a cross-wall in the Keep and adding the corner turrets. Civil War flares up and Castle occupied by a Parliamentary army under the Regicide, General Thomas Harrison.

1653 to 1655

Lady Anne continues building work in Appleby, completing Hospital of St Anne and restoring St Lawrence’s Church.


King Charles I

Restoration of King Charles II celebrated in Appleby. Lady Anne the ‘great lady’ of Westmorland.


Lady Anne Clifford dies at Brougham Castle.

1677 to 1849

Castle the country seat of the Earls of Thanet (3rd Earl married Lady Anne’s eldest daughter).

1686 to 1688

Main eastern range of the castle rebuilt by Lady Anne’s grandson, Thomas 6th Earl of Thanet, fourth son of her daughter Margaret.


George Washington the First President of the United States

Appleby has had many famous residents. Augustine Washington the father of the first American President George Washington (above) attended Appleby Grammar School with his elder brother John.


The 11th and last Earl of Thanet dies unmarried in France. The Castle and estate passes to his illegitimate son, Richard Tufton, born in 1813, who becomes a British subject and is made a Baronet in 1851.


Henry Tufton, son of Sir Richard, is created first Baron Hothfield (of Hothfield in Kent) and becomes closely involved with Appleby.


The Hothfield family sell the Castle to a private buyer.


Castle sold to Ferguson International plc who use it as their headquarters. Castle opened to the public.


Castle sold to a private buyer.


Public enquiry into plans for development of the Castle. Foot and Mouth ravages Cumbria.


Castle is owned solely by Mrs Nightingale – the first female owner since Lady Anne Clifford.


Castle re-opens for guided tours, conferences and weddings.


The 3 cottages in the inner bailey undergo a total restoration. People can now stay in one of the Castle’s bedrooms or holiday cottages.


The Norman Keep at Appleby Castle in Cumbria

The exterior of the Castle’s Keep is restored by English Heritage.


The interior of the 950 year old Norman keep is restored and re-opens as The Norman Centre an immersive museum dedicated to the history of the Normans in Britain.