The Summer Outing 2016

Lanercost Priory and Naworth Castle
 JOURNAL 
 2017 
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

Leader: David S. Johnson — 8 June 2016

On a fine day some of the party travelled by mini-coach driven by David, and others went under their own steam, north towards Carlisle and Brampton. Lanercost Priory, an Augustinian foundation, lies a few miles from Brampton near Hadrian’s Wall. Now in the care of English Heritage, it is the best-preserved monastic church in Cumbria. The east end of the church certainly stands more or less intact and at its original full height. It was founded (probably) in 1169 but much of the structure dates from 1220-1230. Careful examination of the masonry reveals a number of stone blocks pillaged from Hadrian’s Wall, complete with a Latin inscription to be seen over a niche in a corner of the cloister. During Edward I’s Scottish campaigns in 1306-7 the community had the dubious pleasure of hosting the king and his 200-strong retinue for nearly 6 months, shortly before his death With little compensation from the royal coffers the priory was put into a parlous financial state as a result.

At the time of the Dissolution by Henry VIII in 1538 the priory passed into the hands of the powerful northern Dacre family. When their line died out the property passed to the Howard family who still own it. Much of the western range was converted into a residence by Sir Thomas Dacre in the 16th century. After Dissolution the priory church was allowed to survive and the nave became the parish church. This was restored in 1849 and 1870. Two of the pews have medieval ends in the form of heads. Just outside the main door to the church is a stone stump of a medieval cross; the damaged shaft is kept inside the church. The Latin inscription, difficult to read, means ‘In the 1214th year from the Incarnation this cross was made’. Attached to the church is a two-storey building, Dacre Hall, created by the Dacre family. It is now used as the village hall, maybe England’s oldest. At one end of the upper room are traces of 16th-century wall paintings. The main fireplace is dated 1586 on the keystone. A second fireplace has an elaborate oak overmantle dated 1618 with a charming carving of Sir Thomas Dacre’s horse sitting on his helmet. On one side of the cloister lies the vaulted undercroft with many mason’s marks and inscribed board games on the end window sills, made by idle hands (?). The ruined east end of the priory church has several ancient ornate Dacre family tombs, the sandstone now badly eroded.

After lunch we moved to nearby Naworth Castle owned by Philip Howard, passed down the generations by his remarkable family - many of whom resided in the Tower at times, and many were deprived of their heads. The old gatehouse and armoury are seen from the entrance drive. Through the gateway is seen the 13th-century crenellated tower house on the left and the main exterior 16th-century wall, through which one passes into a large courtyard surrounded by further buildings and a stairway up to an imposing entrance into the main hall. Many changes have been made over the centuries by the Dacres and Howards. The Howards eventually moved their family seat to Castle Howard. Much damage was caused by a fire in 1844. Sensitive restoration continues in one range of the castle by Philip Howard; one corner contains a steep narrow staircase up to small rooms in a corner tower, to serve now as a study room. The restored libraries (yes, three large ones) were the envy of many of us.

Our host mentioned the ancient oak tree in the grounds which, used as a gallows, sent 63 Armstrongs and many border reivers to another place. After tea in the main hall he also said that we were welcome to wander around the large walled garden. And so ended another happy outing with David Johnson on a glorious day.

(Based on David’s notes and the excellent English Heritage booklet).

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Dacre Hall
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Lanercost
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Lanercost
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Lanercost
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Lanercost
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Naworth
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Naworth
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Naworth
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Naworth
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Naworth



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Dacre Hall


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Lanercost


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Lanercost


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Lanercost


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Lanercost


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Naworth


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Naworth


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Naworth


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Naworth


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Naworth