Grid Ref: SD 102 961
Dates: 18 Oct 2018 & 20 Sept 2019


Muncaster Castle in West Cumbria is perhaps less well-known that properties of similar quality as this side of Cumbria is remote and not on the main tourist route. However, this Grade I listed building is a magnificent structure in a beautiful location on a spur of land overlooking the Esk Valley. It has a collection of fine pictures by renowned artists and attracts 90,000 visitors a year. This spot has been the home of the Pennington family for 800 years.

Pevsner tells us that the castle was built largely by Anthony Salvin between 1862 and 1867 for the 4th Lord Muncaster. It incorporates part of an earlier castle including the 14th century pele tower at the SW end. Salvin put a matching tower at the NW end. The octagonal library is said to be part of a remodelling in the late 18th century. The main rooms are the Library with a ribbed ceiling and a gallery, Drawing Roomw with a coved ceiling and the former Billiard Room. There are Elizabethan stone chimney pieces and also wooden ones from both the Elizabethan and Jacobean period.

The original name for the area was Mulcaster but it appears as Muncaster from the late 16th century. The "caster" element suggests a Roman origin and there was a Roman fort of Glannoventa at nearby Ravenglass. The Muncaster estate was granted to Alan de Penitone in 1208.

Phyllida Gordon-Duff Pennington worked for 30 years until her death in 2011 to restore the castle. Additional attractions include an owl sanctuary and a maze. The estate now hosts weddings and corporate events with details on its own website.


Muncaster Castle, South West elevation, Sept 2019
South East elevation
View   St. Michael's
View from outside the SE end in Sept 2018   St. Michael's church in the grounds
East Window   Nave
Altar and East Window   Nave and Chancel


The Grade I listed parish church of St Michael is in the grounds of Muncaster Castle. It is in the deanery of Calder, the archdeaconry of West Cumberland, and the diocese of Carlisle. It is part of a united benefice with three other churches. There has been a church on the site since 1140 but the present church dates from the 16th century. The church was restored and a north transept added in 1874 by the architect Anthony Salvin.


Buildings of England, Westmorland & Cumberland, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin Books, 1967, reprinted 1973, ISBN 0 14 071033 7
Castle's own site


index button

Celebrating England

© Craig Thornber, England, United Kingdom    Main Site Address:

W3C XHTML 1.0 1.0 Strict W3C CSS