|Ordnance Survey map reference: NY449625 This material is provided with the kind permission of the author, Mike Jackson, from his book Castles of Cumbria - Carel Press & Cumbria County Library, Carlisle, 1990. ISBN 1872365051. All copyright is retained.|
Situated on low-lying ground 8km NE of CARLISLE, it has no natural defences and was surrounded by a double moat of which the outer, 12m wide and enclosing an area 125m in diameter, is complete. There are traces of the inner moat. The castle is roughly rectangular, c.28 x 26m and comprises a ruinous 14c towerhouse (2) at the NE angle,a polygonal forebuilding (3) attached to its western side, the entrance (4), a domestic block to the S (5) and the hall (6) to the E. They enclose a courtyard c.12m square. Much of the lower masonry of the castle dates from the early 14c, but the remainder, except the S wing which was added c.1597, is much-restored 15c work. The towerhouse, 12.50 x 8.53m, over walls 2.13-2.44 thick, was built in 1307 and rebuilt between 1349-1367. Its three upper floors have collapsed as have the S and part of the W walls, but in the SW angle are remains of a circular stairway which gave access to all floors. The original entrance in the W wall was covered by the later forebuilding, and the present entrance from the hall is modern. The forebuilding (3), 5.79m in diameter, which was added after the towerhouse was rebuilt, is open at the top and is thought never to have been roofed, so that the interior could be overlooked from the ramparts of the tower in case of attack. The N curtain, 10.67m long and c.2.44m thick, contains the entrance, 1.83m wide, originally closed by a door and a portcullis with guard chambers on both sides, and a portcullis chamber above. The hall, 6.40 x 11.28m, the upper part of which was raised or entirely rebuilt c.1550, has a tunnel-vaulted ground floor, rare in England but common in Scotland, which being stone was probably an insurance against fire. The three-storey S block, c.27 x 7.62m, built c.1597-1600 by Sir Edward Musgrave, replaced the original kitchens and the S curtain with its three projecting turrets or bastions. This block was altered in the 18c and rebuilt c.1835-40. Richard de Tilliol, possibly a relative of Humphrey de Tilliol who held HASTINGS castle (Sussex) in 1066, acquired the manor between 1100-35, but lost it in 1136 when Cumberland was ceded to the Scots. When Cumberland reverted to the Crown in 1157 the king restored the manor to Richard's grandson, Peter (died 1183), but no dwelling of any sort was mentioned here until 1246 when 'a capital messuage with houses' was recorded. The earliest work that survives can probably be attributed to Robert de Tilliol (died 1321) who received a licence to crenellate in 1307, his tower being mentioned in 1317-18 when it was damaged, or possibly destroyed, by the Scots. It was first called 'castle' in 1367 and at this time probably consisted of the rebuilt tower enclosed by a palisade and a moat, the remainder added later by Peter de Tilliol (died 1435). After Peter's death it passed to two co-heiresses, Isabella Colvill and Margaret Moresby, who c.1450 remodeled the interior. In 1580, when called a 'house or castle', it was 'partly decayed, and repairing whereof is estimated to three score pounds, besides new casting of the moat'. In 1583 'Skalby castell' was described as 'a strong house and fair - not kept by any soldiers, nor skantly any dweller in it' and c.1596 it was purchased by Sir Edward Musgrave. Held by the Royalists in 1644 it was besieged for many months' but not taken until a second siege in February 1645, when it is thought to have been badly damaged and burnt. It was re-garrisoned by the Royalists in 1648 but quickly surrendered when attacked by General Lambert who called it 'Selby Castle' when reporting its capture. After the Restoration it was purchased by the Gilpins who made the S wing habitable, and in 1685 it was described as 'lately repaired and new modelled'. In 1741 it was purchased by Edward Stephenson who allowed it to decay, and by 1772 it was ruinous. Early in the 19c it was sold to Rowland Fawcett who restored the S block, and in 1814 the castle comprised a very ancient octagon tower, now much decayed, a high square tower, also in ruins, and a more modern castellated building, a comfortable residence'. In 1838 'some of the more modern portion' were 'being rebuilt in the Gothic style'. Sold to James Watt in 1944, it was later acquired by Lord Henley. Presently occupied.
Copywright © 1990, M.J. Jackson, used with permission. May be electronically viewed for personal use only.