History & Heritage

In 1069, Llyulph de Greystoke, after whom Ullswater is named, was regranted his lands by the Normans, following their successful conquest. The wooden tower he had built at Greystoke, which was surrounded by a high fence or pale (pele), was replaced with a stone-built tower. Eighteen generations of de Greystoke lived in it.

In 1346, King Edward III gave permission for the building to be castellated and the castle proper was created.

Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshal of England, sent north in the early 1520s to solve the Scottish problem, met and subsequently married Lady Anne Dacre. She had inherited the castle and lands on the death of her husband and her marriage gained for the Howard family a considerable part of what was the county of Cumberland. To secure this new acquisition, Thomas also caused his three sons to marry Anne Dacre’s three daughters.

The castle became one of the border chain of fortifications which replaced Hadrian’s Wall as a barrier against the Scots.

The castle was held for the King during the civil war and after the war, in 1660, was destroyed by Cromwell as a result. It lay fallow for about a generation, a small manor house being built on the site from reclaimed stone. The castle was then rebuilt and enlarged to a design by Salvin. Much work was done to what had been simply a sporting estate to convert it into a modern farm.

In 1868, a maid left a lighted candle in a cupboard full of linen and the consequent fire destroyed large parts of the castle. It was rebuilt by Henry Howard, using labour and materials from within the estate. Henry even returned some money to his insurance company saying that he had been over-compensated.

The estate was commandeered by the army in 1939 and the land became a tank-drivers’ training ground. The castle itself later became a prisoner of war camp, largely for Poles who had been fighting for the Germans, the prisoners providing labour to run local farms whose men-folk were away fighting. The damage done to both the castle and the estate was almost overwhelming. It was not until 1949 that the army decided that it did not wish to retain the estate, by which time the compensation fund had been exhausted.

Post-war, the long process of restoration and modernisation was initiated which has continued ever since. Fourteen generations of the Howard family have lived in the castle thus far.