Workington Hall

Venue Type & Location

Private Residence

Site Name: Workington Hall
Location: Workington
County: Cumberland
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Performance Spaces


Situated on a steep hill overlooking the River Derwent on the NE outskirts of the town of Workington. The main route to Cockermouth and Carlisle from the coast runs near the entrance.

The fortified red sandstone tower hall of the Curwens was extensively remodelled in the 18th c. but the present ruin exposes medieval and Tudor stages of its architectural history.

Performance History

Sir Henry Curwen's musicians are recorded elsewhere in the county in the early 17th c. In addition Curwen family household accounts between 1625 and 1633 record visits by touring entertainers to the hall.

It is probable that performances would have taken place in the great hall.

Current Status

A 'safe' ruin under the custodianship of the Allerdale Borough Council and open to the public.

History of the Venue

1362 Original pele tower built (Fleming, Cumberland 13).

1380 Licence to crenellate granted.

ca. 1404 First hall erected on the first floor to the N of the pele tower in the E range. An L-shaped kitchen lay to the NE and a gatehouse to the W.

ca. 1540 Medieval great hall rebuilt at the 1st-storey level.

1597--1610 2 long wings added by Sir Nicholas Curwen on the N and S ranges, completing the quadrangle and enclosing the courtyard.

1782--9 Remodelled in fashionable Georgian style for John Curwen by the York architect John Carr. The entire E range was redecorated. A new main entrance and elegant double staircase leading to a 1st- storey balcony and the salon (former great hall) were also added to the front of the E wing facade.

1929 Workington Hall no longer occupied by the Curwens.

1946 Mrs Isabel (Curwen) Chance gave Workington Hall and Curwen Park to Workington Borough Council for use as a town hall.

1964 Possibility of demolition discussed by the town council.

1972 Maintenance costs, vandalism and unsuccessful appeals for national funds and trusts led to the decision to convert Workington Hall to a 'safe ruin.' The roof, interior woodwork and 19th c. walls were removed to reveal the 3 phases of the house as it was renovated over the centuries.

Record Source

REED Cumb/Westmld/Glouc 75--6, 99, 128--33, 135

Patrons who owned this venue

Name Dates Titles
Curwen, Henry 1581-1624 Knight

Bibliographic Sources

  • Byers, Richard L.M. The History of Workington from Earliest Times to AD 1865. Cockermouth: Richard Byers, 1998.
  • Curwen, John F. 'Workington Hall.' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society os 16 (1900): 1–15.
  • 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.
  • Fleming, Daniel. Description of the County of Cumberland. Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Tract SeriesTract Series no. 3. Kendal: Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1889.
  • Hugill, Robert. Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland. Newcastle upon Tyne: Frank Graham, 1977.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Woodruff, Derek. Workington Hall and the Curwens. Workington: Allerdale Borough Council, nd.