Visit Penrith and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Penrith, Cumbria, is an ancient and historic town. There are indications of Celtic occupation in about 500 B.C. First the Romans, who built a road through it, and then Norsemen and Angles came to the area. In the 9th and 10th centuries the town was the capital of Cumbria, a semi-independent state in the Kingdom of Strathclyde. For nearly three centuries up to 1603 Penrith was plagued by Scottish raids and was sacked twice. Penrith Castle, now in ruins, was built as a defence against the Scots, the original tower being erected in 1397—9. Later owners included the Earl of Warwick, the “King-Maker”. The castle was enlarged by the Duke of Gloucester, who became Richard III.
St Andrew's, the parish church, in the town centre stands on a site that is believed to have been a place of worship for more than 1,500 years; the present church was established before 1133, although there has been rebuilding since, including that of the nave in 1719 and 1722. Parts of the church are Norman: the strong tower with 6-ft-thick walls built by the Nevilles which bears the arms of the Earls of Warwick. It contrasts with the classical Georgian architecture which is seen to advantage since the 1951 interior re-decoration which restored the chancel and the sanctuary to their original style. There are two Hutton family effigies, and in the chancel arch a wall painting by Jacob Thomson frames the east window. This has some interesting 15th-century stained glass: a portrait said to be of Richard II or III, and two others formerly believed to be of Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, the parents of Edward IV and Richard III, but now thought to be of Cecily Neville's parents, Raif Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and his wife Joan, daughter of John of Gaunt.
The Giants Grave is a popular sight in the churchyard, and is supposed to be of Owen, or Owen Caesarius, King of Cumbria in 920—37. But the two stone crosses and the four hogs-back stones are probably separate memorials from different periods of the 10th century. Nearby is the “Giant's Thumb”, possibly dated as early as 920, also connected with Owen Caesarius. It was once surmounted by a wheel cross but the upper arms are missing. A number of interesting gravestones have regrettably been removed in recent years, including that of “a straw-bonnet maker”. By the church is a l6th-century building which was formerly the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, believed to be founded in 1340 and re-established in 1564.
Wordsworth had connections with Penrith. His paternal grandfather lived at Sockbridge nearby. William's father, after moving to Cockermouth, was married in Penrith to Ann Cookson, the daughter of William Cookson, a Penrith mercer, shown in the parochial register of 1766. William and Dorothy paid visits from Cockermouth to their grandfather Cookson. At one period, 1776—7, they attended Dame Birkett's infant school, which was possibly in the building overlooking St Andrew's churchyard. At the same time Mary Hutchinson, daughter of a prominent Penrith tobacconist, and William's future wife, attended the same school. The Cookson house was on the site of Messrs. Arnison, drapers. About 2 miles South of Penrith at Yanwath on the A592 is to be seen the house, The Grotto, where Wordsworth often visited Thomas Wilkinson, his Quaker friend, as did Clarkson, who worked with Wilberforce against the slave trade, and Charles Lloyd, the friend of Lamb and Coleridge. The house was also known to De Quincey, Scott and Coleridge. The Penrith Town Hall is formed of two houses built in 1791 and designed by Robert Adam. One was the residence of Wordsworth's cousin John.
The Gloucester Arms hotel, one of the oldest inns in England, dating from 1477, is said to have been the residence of Richard III and bears his coat of arms. The Two Lions hotel building dates from 1584. The mansion of Carleton Hill was built by Mrs Frances Trollope, mother of Anthony, the novelist. Up the hill on the North East is the famous Penrith Beacon. This was built in 1719, but the site was used long before that to flash warnings. Sir Walter Scott was in Cumberland in 1805 when it flashed the warning of Napoleon's expected invasion, and he dashed back to Scotland. The Luck of Edenhall, a medieval glass goblet in the Victoria and Albert Museum, came from the now demolished Eden Hall near Penrith. The goblet may date from about 1240 and was possibly brought back by one of the Musgrave family from the Crusades. The clock tower in the centre of Penrith is a Musgrave monument.
The town is a touring centre for the pleasant Eden Valley, for Ullswater and for the Pennines.
Nearby towns: Alston, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Bassenthwaite, Caldbeck, Carlisle, Keswick, Ullswater
Nearby villages: Blencow, Busk, Calthwaite, Cliburn, Culgaith, Dacre, Dockray, Eastgate, Edenhall, Ellonby, Gamblesby, Glassonby, Great Blencow, Great Salkeld, Great Strickland, Greystoke, Hackthorpe, Johnby, Langwathby, Lazonby, Little Strickland, Lowther, Melmerby, Morland, Newby, Newton Reigny, Ousby, Penruddock, Plumpton Wall, Pooley Bridge, Skirwith, Temple Sowerby, Tirril, Westgate, Wetheral
Have you decided to visit Penrith or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Penrith bed and breakfast (a Penrith B&B or Penrith b and b)
- a Penrith guesthouse
- a Penrith hotel (or motel)
- a Penrith self-catering establishment, or
- other Penrith accommodation