Naworth Castle

Venue Type & Location

Private Residence

Site Name: Naworth Castle
Location: near Carlisle
County: Cumberland
Location Type: Town - near town at determined location

Performance Spaces


Naworth Castle is located high above the bank of the River Irthing, 12 miles NE of Carlisle within a mile of Hadrian's Wall. Built in a strong defensive situation Naworth is only accessible from the SE, with steep cliffs on 3 sides. A moat with drawbridge originally protected the 4th side.

Built of sombre grey sandstone, Naworth Castle is an imposing structure with an irregular quadrangular layout. A long driveway leads through an encircling wall to the main entrance of the castle.

Performance History

Minstrels patronized by Thomas de Dacre are recorded elsewhere in the N in the mid-15th c. It is probable that they also performed at home for their lord although household accounts do not survive.

Household account books spanning 1612--34 indicate that Lord William Howard played host to companies of travelling players at Naworth.

Current Status

The Howard family has had continuous ownership of Naworth Castle since the 16th c. The castle remains a private residence, open selectively for exclusive events.

History of the Venue

1335 Randolf de Dacre granted licence to crenellate. Part of the original pele tower forms the base of the present Dacre Tower.

1515--25 Thomas, 3rd Baron Dacre of Gilsland, expanded the castle to its current quadrangular form. N and E wings added as well as the tower joining them at the SE corner, now known as Lord William's Tower.

1570 Naworth abandoned after the defeat of the northern earls and the attainder of Leonard Dacre.

1589 Survey describes the castle to be 'now in very great decay in all parts.'

1602 Lord William Howard acquired Naworth via marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Dacre. He occupied the castle and began extensive restorations.

early 18th c. Vanbrugh added the music gallery and hall screen for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle.

18 May 1844 A fire destroyed 3 of the 4 residential ranges, including the E wing containing the great hall.

1845--9 Restoration undertaken by Anthony Salvin who 'seems to have added little of his own. Where drawings exist of before the fire, they show how faithful to the old Salvin was' (Pevsner, Cumberland and Westmorland 167). Morpeth Tower added near the N corner.

1881--6 Further restoration by C.J. Ferguson.

Record Source

REED York 1.68, 72;Cumb/Westmld/Glouc 135--44

Patrons who owned this venue

Name Dates Titles
Dacre, Thomas de 1387-1458 6th Baron

Bibliographic Sources

  • B., P.A. 'Naworth Castle, Cumberland, A Seat of The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Carlisle.' Country Life 29 (25 March 1911): 414–22.
  • Buck, Samuel, and Nathaniel Buck. [A Collection of Engravings of the Castles, Abbeys, and Towns in England and Wales]. 5 vols. London: The authors, 1726–52.
  • Churchill, Randolph S. Fifteen Famous English Homes. London: Derek Verschoyle, 1954.
  • Curwen, John F. The Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North-of-the-Sands. Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, es. Kendal: Titus Wilson, 1913.
  • Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Np: Npub, nd.
  • Emery, Anthony. Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales 1300–1500. 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996–2006.
  • Ferguson, C.J. 'Naworth Castle.' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society os 4 (1878–9): 486–95.
  • Grose, Francis. The Antiquities of England and Wales. 8 vols. London: Hooper & Wigstead, 1785.
  • Historical Notices of Naworth Castle. Brampton: H. Lancaster, 1844.
  • Hugill, Robert. Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland. Newcastle upon Tyne: Frank Graham, 1977.
  • Hutchinson, William. The History of the County of Cumberland, and some places adjacent, from the earliest accounts to the present time. 2 vols. London: F. Jollie, 1794.
  • Innes-Smith, Robert. Naworth Castle: Seat of the Earl and Countess of Carlisle. Derby: English Life Publications, 1984.
  • King, David J. Cathcart. Castellarium Anglicanum: An Index and Bibliography of the Castles in England, Wales and the Islands. 2 vols. Millwood, NY, London and Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus International Publications, 1983.
  • Lysons, Daniel and Samuel. Magna Britannia; being a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain. 6 vols. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1806–22.
  • Mackenzie, James D. The Castles of England: Their Story and Structure. 2 vols. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1896.
  • Perriam, D.R., and J. Robinson. The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria: An Illustrated Gazetteer and Research Guide. Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, es. Kendal: Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1998.
  • Pettifer, Adrian. English Castles: A Guide by Counties. Woodbridge: The Boydell P, 1995.
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus. Cumberland and Westmorland. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth, Midd: Penguin Books, 1967.
  • Robinson, John Martin. A Guide to the Country Houses of the North West. London: Constable, 1991.
  • Somerset Fry, Plantagenet. Castles of the British Isles. New York: Dorset P, 1990.
  • Worsley, Giles. 'Naworth Castle, Cumberland – I: The Seat of the Earl of Carlisle.' Country Life 181 (12 Feb. 1987): 74–9.
  • Worsley, Giles. 'Naworth Castle, Cumberland – II: The Seat of the Earl of Carlisle.' Country Life 181 (26 Feb. 1987): 88–91.