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Hartley Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Harcla; Hardcla; Hardeley; Martley

In the civil parish of Hartley.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY78270823
Latitude 54.46919° Longitude -2.33670°

Hartley Castle has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House, and also as a probable Pele Tower.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Ruins of a medieval fortified house, built as a tower house circa 1353 and extended circa 1600. The house was partly demolished 1704-35 and the present house was built on the site of the outer court incorporating some fragments. Today, only the barrel vaulted cellar of the kitchen and part of a wall, possibly a barmkin, survive. The ruins were being used as a store in 1983. The tower stands at the end of a natural spur which has been scarped to provide a 'mound' for the structures, although this has been mutilated by the present farm buildings and terraced roads. The manor, possibly with a manor house, was confiscated circa 1315 from Roger de Clifford and granted to Andrew de Harcla. Fortified in 1323 it was granted to Ralph de Nevill and later purchased by Thomas de Musgrave who received a licence to crenellate in 1353 because it had frequently in the past been burnt by the Scots. Two wings were added circa 1600 by Richard de Musgrave 'transforming it into a mansion' and it was described in 1671 as a 'stately house' which had received many additions by the present owner. These included a domestic chapel, gallery and hall. It was abandoned circa 1677 and a sketch of 1692 shows a thick, high curtain wall enclosing a square outer court, with an inner court enclosed by three and four storey buildings. By 1773 there was 'scarcely a wreck left of the castle', materials having been removed to repair Eden Hall. (PastScape)

Hartley Castle, house at the S. end of the village, was re-built in the 18th century. Immediately to the N. of it is a mass of rubble masonry enclosing a cellar with a segmental barrel-vault. There is also a length of rubble walling N.E. of the house and occasional outcrops of rubble core N. and W. of the house. These fragments perhaps belong to a mediæval building with an enclosing wall. Built into a gardenwall is a mediæval mask-corbel and in the outbuilding, E. of the house, are three 17th-century door-heads, probably re-used.
Condition—Of early house, ruined. (RCHME 1936)

A quadrangular castle is a strongly fortified residence built of stone, or sometimes brick, around a square or rectangular courtyard. Two main types of quadrangular castle have been identified, southern and northern, the former having rounded angle towers the latter having square angle towers. Most examples of this class of castle were built in the 14th century but the tradition extended into the 15th century. Later examples demonstrate an increasing emphasis on domestic comfort to the detriment of defence and, indeed, some late examples are virtually defenceless. They provided residences for the king or leading families and occur in both rural and urban situations. Hartley Castle is a rare example in northern England of a tower keep castle that was latterly modified into a quadrangular castle. Despite having been largely demolished in the 18th century and the site occupied by a later farmhouse and its outbuildings, upstanding fragments of Hartley Castle still survive, including parts of the medieval curtain wall and a part of kitchen range with a vaulted cellar. Buried remains of the medieval tower keep castle and its later 17th century transformation from a fortified stronghold into a substantial mansion based on a quadrangular castle form will also survive beneath the existing later buildings on the site. Additionally earthwork remains of the castle's curtain wall survive well on the east and north east sides, together with the well-preserved remains of associated garden and agricultural features.
The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Hartley Castle and its associated earthworks. The castle, a tower keep castle which was later remodelled as a quadrangular castle, is located on an elevated knoll at the southern end of Hartley village while the associated earthworks occupy sloping ground immediately to the east and north east of the castle.
Although the exact date of the foundation of Hartley Castle is unknown documentary sources indicate that the castle was owned by Roger de Clifford during the late 13th/early 14th centuries. Between 1307-15 the castle passed to Sir Andrew de Harcla and during the following decade it was reported to have been frequently burned by the Scots. By the mid-14th century ownership had passed to Thomas de Musgrave who built a stone tower or keep and was granted a licence to fortify it in 1353. Another licence to fortify was granted in 1360. During the early 17th century Sir Richard Musgrave enlarged and transformed the castle from a fortified residence of the tower keep castle type into a mansion based on the quadrangular castle type, and in about 1650 further Jacobean additions were built. In 1677 the family moved to a new residence, Eden Hall, and shortly after Hartley Castle was allowed to fall into disrepair. A sketch of the late 17th century depicts a stairway giving entrance into an outer court. Crossing the outer court entrance was gained into the inner court through an arched porch. The inner court comprised a quadrangle with stairs leading to the main hall on one side. A chapel, dining room and withdrawing room occupied another side of the quadrangle, a gallery the third side and lodging rooms the fourth side. A buttery, kitchen and cellars are also mentioned. During the first half of the 18th century the castle was gradually demolished and materials removed to repair Eden Hall. A new house was built on the site of the castle during the latter part of the 18th century. Various features are Listed Buildings Grade II; these comprise the ruins of the former castle to the north of Hartley Castle farmhouse, the farmhouse and a wall adjoining, and a barn to the east of the farmhouse. The castle's sandstone curtain wall still survives with modern repairs for part of its length on the castle's west side. Elsewhere there are traces of the buried remains of the curtain wall surviving as grass-covered earthworks, particularly on the castle's east side and at the north east corner where there are traces of sandstone building foundations. Within the curtain wall, to the north of the present farmhouse there is a mass of sandstone masonry which formed a corner of the castle's kitchen. Within this masonry there is a doorway with a slightly pointed arch which leads into a vaulted cellar. Traces of another fragment of exposed stonework can be seen under the roots of a mature tree to the west of the present access drive which leads to the farmhouse. On the hillslope to the east of the castle there are numerous well-preserved earthworks thought to represent the remains of garden and agricultural activity associated with the castle. These consist of a series of three agricultural terraces, the buried remains of two boundary walls or banks running downslope, one of which has a return to the south thus forming two sides of an enclosure, and at least two and possibly three building platforms, one of which has an attached enclosure which is terraced into the hillslope. Additionally the earthworks of a stone wall or bank forming two sides of an enclosure survive at the monument's north east corner. (Scheduling Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1353 Oct 4 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


The original C14 form of the house is said to be a tower although the antiquarian plans and pictures and the scant surviving remains are of a quadrangular courtyard house. Is there actual evidence of a tower or is this an assumption? The quadrangular courtyard house did not have corner towers.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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