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Lammerside Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dolorous Tower

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY77250477
Latitude 54.43787° Longitude -2.35219°

Lammerside Castle has been described as a certain Tower House.

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*.


Lammerside Castle is situated on the west bank of the River Eden, at the foot of a small slope. Very little is known of the history of Lammerside; the name 'John de Lambyrsete' occurs in 1403 but without mention of property (CPR 1403 p. 280). The tower lies within Wharton Hall deer park which was certainly in existence by 1576 (Blackett-Ord); it seems unlikely that Lammerside was occupied after its creation. The upstanding remains of the tower, almost two storeys high, represent a reduced form of the original, as noted by authorities 2 and 3. In the north wall of the tower, part of a newel staircase is exposed. The room adjoining this side of the building measures 13.8m by 4.1m; the turf-covered banks which define it contain faced stone in places. There are no internal partitions visible; this and the survival of a small part of the eaves-line suggest that the room was a single storey hall. On the south side of the tower an area measuring 9.7m by 7.8m internally, enclosed by banks up to 2.6m wide and which contain faced and bonded stonework, may be the remains of a courtyard. Surrounding the tower there is evidence of other, less substantial buildings. To the east are the remains of four possible building platforms, the most definite of which measures 18.5m by 7.4m. There is another group of at least three rectangular building platforms about 30m south of the tower. The other prominent features of the site are the hedge banks of the surrounding enclosures which border a trackway going N-S past the tower and are probably contemporary with the castle. The largest of the enclosures is D-shaped and takes in most of the hill slope to the west of the tower. Its bank and external ditch are 7.6m wide overall. Three other hedge banks adjoin the D-shaped enclosure and continue in fields to the far west of the tower. In the north-east corner of this enclosure is a square compound about 24m by 26m internally. On the eastern side of the N-S trackway is another large enclosure with less well-defined banks but of similar length to the main enclosure and apparently extending all the way to the river. There is a possible corn-drying kiln immediately south of the last enclosure described. It is 5.0m by 5.8m overall and 1.1m deep; there is an opening at the front but no stonework is visible. (PastScape–ref. Lax, 1993)

Lammerside Castle (Plate 80), on the W. side of the Eden, near the middle of the parish, is a ruin of which remains of two storeys survive; the walls are of rubble. The partly surviving tower was built probably in the 14th century and formed part of a larger building of which traces remain both N. and S. of the tower. It belonged to a branch of the Warcop family in the 16th century but must have become ruined and derelict in that or the following century. Much of the stone facing has been removed and there is now little evidence of the date of the structure.
The Tower (45 ft. by 37 ft. externally) is divided by a cross-wall running E. and W. into two main portions; the southern is again sub-divided into three apartments. A central corridor formerly ran through the building from N. to S. but some of its enclosing walls have been removed. The rooms on the ground-floor are or were covered by barrel-vaults, of segmental or segmental-pointed form. At the S. end of the corridor is an original doorway with chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and a draw-bar hole; immediately to the W. is a blocked doorway with a square head. The E. face has the gaps of two windows. On the N. face is a doorway to the corridor, lacking its dressings, and further W. part of the semi-circular recess of a newel-staircase, with the jamb of a doorway opening into it; towards the E. end of the wall is the stump of the wall of an adjoining building and next to it a small recess. The W. wall has the gap of a window and two square-headed loop-lights. The second storey is much ruined, but had a single large room to the N. of the main cross-wall and two small chambers and a garde-robe to the S. of the same wall. There are remains of a fireplace in the N. wall of the large room. There are traces of the foundations of a building extending some 35 ft. to the S. of the tower and of the same width, and further indications of a narrower wing on the N. The corridor through the existing tower seems to indicate that this was the buttery-wing of a house of the ordinary mediæval type with a hall-block and a second wing either to the N. or S. of it.
Condition—Ruined. (RCHME 1936)

Despite the demolition of the north and south wings of Lammerside Castle medieval tower house, substantial elements of this monument survive. These include the upstanding remains of the tower and the earthwork remains of its wings, together with the earthwork remains of a barmkin wall, yard and a building platform. The monument will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the wider medieval settlement and economy of this area.
The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Lammerside Castle medieval tower house, located on the western side of the River Eden approximately 4km south of Kirkby Stephen. It includes the upstanding remains of a 14th century tower or wing which originally formed part of the building's central core, together with the earthwork remains of buildings to the north and south of the tower and a barmkin or wall which enclosed a yard to the west of the tower. The castle was occupied by a branch of the Warcop family, but is thought to have been abandoned by the 17th century. The tower is constructed of coursed, squared rubble, measures approximately 14m by 11m, and survives to two storeys high. The ground floor is divided by a cross wall running east-west into two main portions, and the southern portion is again sub-divided into three apartments. These ground floor rooms are or were covered by barrel-vaults. A central corridor runs through the building from north to south at the southern end of which there is an original doorway with architectural features such as chamfered jambs, two-centre arch and a draw-bar hole. Immediately to the west of this entrance there is a blocked doorway with a square head. The north wall has a doorway to the central corridor and traces of the semi-circular recess of a newel staircase which led to the upper floor. Towards the eastern end of the north wall there is the stump of the wall of a now demolished adjoining building, and next to it there is a small recess. The east wall has two windows while the west wall contains a window and two square-headed loop-lights. The upper storey is now considerably ruined but originally provided the main living areas for the occupants. It has a single large room or hall with traces of a fireplace in its northern wall to the north of the main cross wall, and two small chambers and a garderobe to the south of the cross wall. Traces of the foundations of a building of the same width as the tower can be seen to the south of the tower, while to the north of the tower there are traces of a slightly narrower wing. On the tower's western side there are the earthwork remains of a barmkin wall which would have enclosed a yard. In the north western corner of this yard there is a small building platform. Traces of an L-shaped wall extend southwards for a short distance from the south face of the barmkin wall. (Scheduling Report)

It now appears that the standing remains here are in fact the remains of a simple building (one of many in the original manorial complex) that was later converted into a gatehouse by the Wharton family after driving the Warcops off their land. The walls are thin and there are a number of original windows at ground floor level. The only sign of any fortification or security here, is the presence of a door with a large draw bar tunnel....and even this may have been moved from its original location. If you look at aerial photos of the remains, the small rectangular earthworks that can be seen just in front of the ruins are now thought to be the footings of the original fortified building here....possibly a very narrow tower of some sort. There are also slight earthworks a little further to the South of the upstanding remains, which are now thought to be the site of the original hall, again destroyed by the Whartons when they drove the Warcops away. The whole site is surrounded by earthworks, possibly indicating the presence of a barmkyn or curtain wall surrounding the whole complex....very well defined on the Western side, with a ditch around three feet deep on the outside, and an earthern bank another two or three feet high on the inside. There are also the remains of a park pale running along side the line of the earthworks, rabbit warrens further along the river and the earthwork remains of a road running down to the River Eden to the West, along with the rubble remains of a bridge that would have spanned the river....all destroyed by the Whartons of Wharton hall nearby. It sounds as if the poor Warcop family were not only at odds with the Whartons, living some two miles to the North, but also with their neighbours the Cliffords at Pendragon some mile and a half to the South. (Matthew Emmott, 1-7-2009, pers. corr.)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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