Hornby Castle, Lancashire

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Hornby Castle
Hornby Castle, Lancashire (2).jpg
Southwest front of Hornby Castle
LocationHornby, Lancashire, England
Coordinates54°06′41″N 2°37′56″W / 54.1114°N 2.6323°W / 54.1114; -2.6323Coordinates: 54°06′41″N 2°37′56″W / 54.1114°N 2.6323°W / 54.1114; -2.6323
OS grid referenceSD 588,686
Founded13th century
RebuiltAbout 1720
Restored byPudsey Dawson
ArchitectSharpe and Paley
Architectural style(s)Gothic, Gothic Revival
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameHornby Castle
Designated4 October 1967
Reference no.1317655
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameTerrace wall on southeast and southwest sides of Hornby Castle
Designated4 December 1985
Reference no.1071687
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameNo 54, pairs of gate piers and walls adjoining former entrance to Hornby Castle Drive
Designated4 December 1985
Reference no.1071654
Hornby Castle, Lancashire is located in the City of Lancaster district
Hornby Castle, Lancashire
Location in the City of Lancaster district

Hornby Castle is a country house, developed from a medieval castle, standing to the east of the village of Hornby in the Lune Valley, Lancashire, England. It occupies a position overlooking the village in a curve of the River Wenning.[1] The house is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.[2]


It is thought that the castle was originally built for the Neville family in the 13th century; this is the most likely date of the base of the tower at the back of the castle. The polygonal tower rising from this base dates from the 16th century, and was built probably for Sir Edward Stanley, 1st Baron Monteagle. His son, the second Baron Monteagle, took part in suppressing the Rising of the North in 1536. The third Baron Monteagle sold off a lot of the land and on his death in 1581 was succeeded by an only daughter, Elizabeth, who married Edward Parker, 12th Baron Morley. Their son William was made the fourth Baron Monteagle and became famous as the peer who was forewarned about the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. His son Henry was a zealous Royalist at the start of the Civil War and his estates were afterwards declared forfeit and sold. During the war itself, the castle was captured by Colonel Assheton in 1643 and occupied in 1648 by the Duke of Hamilton and his Scottish army. Although the castle was afterwards recovered by the family, Henry's son Thomas was forced by straitened financial circumstances to sell the castle to Robert Brudenell, 2nd Earl of Cardigan in 1663. Brudenell's grandson sold it in 1713 to the infamous Colonel Charteris. His daughter Janet married James Wemyss, 5th Earl of Wemyss and gave the castle to their second son Francis (who took the surname of Charteris) and remodelled the castle in about 1720.[1] In 1789 Charteris sold Hornby to John Marsden, known as "Silly Marsden", of Wennington Hall, who was under the control of his aunt and her husband, the ambitious George Wright. Marsden sold Wennington to pay for Hornby.[3] After a long legal battle over Marsden's will (he had died in 1826), Admiral Sandford Tatham regained control of the property in 1838 from George Wright's family. He died in 1840, leaving it to his nephew Pudsey Dawson the younger, High Sheriff of Lancashire for 1845.[4][5]

Dawson commissioned the Lancaster architects Sharpe and Paley to rebuild much of the structure; this was carried out between 1847 and 1850. The architects retained the older parts, including the polygonal tower, but demolished or remodelled the section constructed for Charteris.[1] This included rebuilding the front of the castle, adding wings and a portico, and replacing the round tower with a square one. The cost was at least £1,300 (equivalent to £140,000 in 2019).[6][7] In 1859 the castle was inherited by Pudsey's nephew, Richard Pudsey Dawson, who sold it to John Foster, a Bradford mill owner.[3] Under his ownership, the successors in the architectural practice, Paley and Austin, made additions in 1879–82 on the west side of the building, and further alterations were made in 1890 by W. and R. Mawson of Bradford. The castle then descended via his son William Foster (1821–1884) to William's son Colonel William Henry Foster, High Sheriff for 1891 and MP for Lancaster from 1895 to 1900.[3]

In the middle of the 20th century, some of the rooms in the east parts of the house were removed to create a courtyard.[1] At the same time, the main internal staircase was removed.[2]



The house is constructed in sandstone rubble and it has slate roofs. Its architectural style is Perpendicular. The plan is irregular. The building is mainly in two storeys, and much of it has a battlemented parapet. The entrance front faces southwest and is almost symmetrical, with seven bays. The lateral bays project forward, as does the central three-storey porch. All the windows are mullioned, or mullioned and transomed. The lateral bays have bay windows, the upper floors of which are canted. The left bay has an additional pair of windows above the bay window. On each side of the porch are two bays containing varying types of windows. The porch has an octagonal turret on the left and a diagonal buttress on the right. In the middle storey is an oriel window, above which is a three-light window. Behind the porch, and slightly off-set to the left, is a square tower, and to its left is the taller, narrower, polygonal tower. The windows in the square tower include a partly blocked Venetian window. The courtyard created in the 20th century is behind the three right bays.[2]


The porch has a vaulted ceiling with foliated bosses. The hall is entered through a Tudor arch containing a Gothic-style glazed timber screen. The hall contains a sandstone fireplace with a Tudor arch.[2] Its windows contain stained glass dating from the late 19th century and moved here in the 20th century.[1] To the left of the hall is the Library containing woodwork said to be by Gillows. The upper floor includes a billiard room with Gothic decoration.[2] Also on the upper floor is a drawing room with a barrel vault and pendents.[1]

External features[edit]

To the northeast of the main building is the earlier courtyard, now surrounded by apartments.[1] It is entered by a gatehouse with a pointed arch.[2] On the southwest and southeast sides of the house is a terrace with sandstone walls dating from the 19th century. Three flights of steps lead down from the terrace, and at the north end is a small semicircular building acting as a bastion. The walls are listed at Grade II.[8] At the entrance to the drive formerly leading to the castle is a lodge and gate piers. The lodge has a canted front, a steep slated roof, and an embattled turret. The gate piers are carved with roundels containing green men and the crest of Pudsey Dawson.[1] The lodge, gate piers and adjoining wall are also listed at Grade II.[9]

Present day[edit]

Hornby Castle is privately owned. The gardens are opened for special events on advertised dates.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Hartwell, Clare; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2009) [1969], Lancashire: North, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 346–348, ISBN 978-0-300-12667-9
  2. ^ a b c d e f Historic England, "Hornby Castle, Lancaster (1317655)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 30 May 2012
  3. ^ a b c "A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8". British History Online. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  4. ^ Hughes, John M. (2010), Edmund Sharpe: Man of Lancaster, John M. Hughes, pp. 231–234
  5. ^ "No. 20439". The London Gazette. 4 February 1845. pp. 315–316.
  6. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  7. ^ Brandwood, Geoff; Austin, Tim; Hughes, John; Price, James (2012), The Architecture of Sharpe, Paley and Austin, Swindon: English Heritage, p. 214, ISBN 978-1-84802-049-8
  8. ^ Historic England, "Terrace wall on southeast and southwest sides of Hornby Castle, Lancaster (1071687)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 30 May 2012
  9. ^ Historic England, "No 54, pairs of gate piers and walls adjoining former entrance to Hornby Castle Drive, Lancaster (1071654)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 30 May 2012
  10. ^ Hornby Castle Gardens, Hornby Castle, retrieved 14 August 2011

External links[edit]

Media related to Hornby Castle, Lancashire at Wikimedia Commons