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Workington Hall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Wirkyngton

In the civil parish of Workington.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY00772880
Latitude 54.64452° Longitude -3.53918°

Workington Hall has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House, and also as a certain Pele Tower.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Fortified tower house with various additions, now in ruins. Mid C14 with C15 and C16 alterations and additions; late 1783-1789 additions by John Carr for the Curwen family. Mixed large blocks of red and calciferous sandstone with additions of similar rubble stone, all without roofs; oldest parts on chamfered plinth. Rectangular 3-storey tower with adjoining L-shaped medieval wing reduced to single-storey and rebuilt as 3 storeys by Carr; also adjoined by C15 hall range of 2 storeys, 5 bays, all enclosing courtyard on 2 sides, the quadrangle completed by a medieval gatehouse tower and wing by Carr. Tower was extensively renovated by Carr but retains some original loops, internal spiral staircase and mural chambers. Late C18 round and flat-headed windows, all unglazed. Wing has projecting 3-storey garderobe turret and ground-floor loops; large first-floor late C18 round-headed window openings, those above in ruins. Late C18 canted bay window to left. Further right-angled kitchen range of similar details, with angle turret. Hall range has blocked windows and doorways of various dates; 2 ground-floor early C16 2-light windows and upper-floor C15 window. Inner wall has C15 doorways and blocked early C16 multi-light windows. 3-storey gatehouse has flanking guardrooms with angle turret to right, showing a number of small original chamfered-surround windows; the round-headed through archway and windows are late C18 alterations. Adjoining late C18 wing has similar flat-headed window openings. Ancestral home of the Curwen family who obtained a licence to crenellate in 1380 (granted to Gilbert Curwen) (the foundation stone for the tower is said to have been laid 8 May 1362) and owned by them until sold to the local council mid C20. After vandalisation the council reduced the building to a controlled ruin. (Listed Building Report)

Despite being roofless, Workington Hall survives well and is a good example of a medieval tower house which later evolved into a larger fortified house. The present structure was occupied continuously by the same family for almost 700 years and as such it contains significant amounts of medieval and post-medieval fabric including one of the most complete medieval vaulted undercrofts in Cumbria. Its constantly evolving form during this period reflects the changing aspirations of the owners and the development of differing building techniques and fashions. Additionally the monument will contain the buried remains of the earliest habitation on this site which was constructed in the early 13th century and occupied until it was superseded by the tower house in the latter half of the 14th century.
The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Workington Hall tower house and later medieval fortified house. It was the ancestral home of the Curwen family for over 800 years and is located on the edge of a steep scarp overlooking the floodplain of the River Derwent. In its present form it consists of a roofless structure with buildings on four sides of a rectangular courtyard with the buried remains of a kitchen garden outside the north west corner. Documentary sources indicate that the first building here was erected early in the 13th century by Patric de Culwen, however, nothing of this structure survives above ground. Construction of a three-storey stone tower began in 1362 and a licence to crenallate was granted in 1380. By the late 14th/early 15th centuries the building had quickly developed from a tower house into a larger medieval fortified house; a vaulted hall with a turreted tower at the northern end had been built adjoining the north face of the existing tower and formed the east range of Workington Hall, whilst a gateway with flanking turreted guardrooms formed the west range. North and south curtain walls linked the east and west ranges and enclosed a rectangular courtyard. During the following centuries many additions and alterations ensued including construction of the present western gatehouse in the 16th century and the addition of northern and southern domestic wings. During the late 18th/early 19th centuries the upper part of the tower was rebuilt, a library was added to its east side, and the courtyard was reduced in width by the addition of passageways on the inner side of the north and south wings. Conservatories were added to the outside of the south wing, a kitchen garden to the western part of the north wing, and domestic buildings to the outside of the east wing. Most of these external later features have now been demolished. In 1946 the hall was presented to Workington Council and its roof was removed in the 1970s. Workington Hall is a Listed Building Grade I. The monument is constructed of red and calciferous sandstone. Its oldest upstanding structure is the three-storey tower close to the monument's south east corner. Although renovated in the late 18th/early 19th centuries the tower retains some original loops, internal spiral staircases and mural chambers together with late 18th century round and flat-headed windows. The medieval vaulted east range has a projecting three-storey garderobe turret and ground floor loops, large first-floor late 18th century round-headed windows and a bay window of the same date. At the northern end of the east range stands the medieval vaulted kitchen range with an angle turret at the north east corner. A similar turret at the north west corner has been removed. The south range contains numerous blocked windows and doors of various dates including two ground-floor early 16th century two-light windows. The three- storey gatehouse in the west range has flanking guardrooms with traces of medieval angle turrets latterly modified. A number of original narrow chamfered window surrounds survive whilst the round-headed archway and windows are 18th century alterations. At the north west corner there are the lower courses of a rectangular building which overlooked the kitchen garden. The north range contains numerous 18th century flat-headed windows. (Scheduling Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1380 March 4 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 15/11/2016 19:50:57

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