APPLEBY’S HISTORIC KEEP STANDS PROUDLY ONCE MORE
For more than five years the Norman Keep of Appleby Castle has been hidden from view behind unsightly scaffolding and plastic sheeting. For the past two years, however, Historic England (formerly English Heritage) has been supporting work to strengthen the tower and stop the cracking and subsidence that threatened to bring nine hundred years of history to a tragic end.
“Although this work is not yet finished,” owner Sally Nightingale explains, “it has got to the point where the scaffolding can be taken down. I am delighted that this impressive building once more looms proudly over the Castle and the town of Appleby and am most grateful to Historic England for all that they and their contractors are doing.”
Mrs Nightingale and her advisers hope that the final remedial work can be completed this year, putting the building into sound structural condition and making it safe for the public once again to have access to it.
The aim is to make the Keep a museum, telling the story of the Castle and of Appleby. In Lady Anne Clifford’s time, the tower (which she called ‘Caesar’s Tower’ though there is nothing Roman about it) was used as lodgings by the Judges who came to hold to hold Assizes in Appleby, then County Town of Westmorland.
One idea is to restore one or two of the rooms in the Keep as they may have been at that time. In the basement, once the County Gaol, conditions may be a good deal grimmer! Other rooms will house display boards and models featuring Castle and Town down the ages. People will also be able to climb the twisting staircases and enjoy the magnificent views from the roof-top parapets over Appleby and the Eden Valley.
All this will take time – and money – and financial help will be sought to make these dreams into reality. Meanwhile guided tours of parts of the Castle and grounds are planned for the coming spring and summer. The Castle is also licensed for weddings, and held a very successful wedding fayre in March. Other exciting developments are in preparation and will be reported as they come to fruition.
“Appleby Castle is an enormously important feature of our town”, said Mrs Nightingale. “I want to bring it back as the attraction it once was, and to allow visitors to enjoy the beauty and historical fascination of the place I am privileged to own.”