Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army cross into England via the Solway Firth at a similar location to the point that Edward I crossed into Scotland more than four hundred years previously. Carlisle prepared for attack. It was still a walled city and even if the Carlisle Militia weren’t keen on a confrontation there was always an Autumn fog to keep the Scots at bay. The prince headed off to find a comfortable bed in Brampton to the east of Carlisle and on the 10th November the Jacobites advanced. The following day the Prince sent a letter to the mayor saying that if the town surrendered that no harm would befall anyone. It’s only fair to point out that by this time the prince had visited Warwick Hall and Blackwell Hall providing future local landowners with colourful tales and plenty of blue plaques.
The attack when it came was on the 14th of November lasting until the citizens of Carlisle surrendered on the 15th. The castle remained defiant for a further 24 hours but ultimately Joseph Backhouse, the Mayor of Carlisle went to Brampton to hand the keys of the city over to the prince who duly had his father declared King James III at the market cross. On Monday 18th Bonnie Prince Charlie paraded into the town on his white horse. The Scots remained in Carlisle until the 22nd restocking their provisions and acquiring transport. Every horse in the area had to be taken to the castle and their owners were required to prove ownership or else the Scots took them as being militia horse and fair game.
So where does the baby and the bishop fit into the story? Joseph Dacre of Kirklinton Hall was in Carlisle as these events unfolded but his heavily pregnant wife, who happened to be the daughter of a former Bishop of Carlisle had gone to Rose Castle – which was the bishop’s residence. Rose Castle is only six miles south of Carlisle and it wasn’t long before the Jacobites arrived looking for the treasure that rumour said was kept in the castle. MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart (Clanranold) was just about to make a rather forceful entry when a servant appeared and pleaded for a bit of peace and quiet as Mrs Dacre had just given birth and the baby was so poorly that she was just about to be baptised. There are several versions of the story but MacDonald gave the child the white cockade that he wore to signify that he was a Jacobite. He ordered that there should be no robbery and that the little family should be left in peace and that furthermore the cockade would be guarantee that no other Jacobites would attempt to harm the castle whilst the infant was there.
Rosemary Dacre kept her white cockade even when she became Lady Rosemary Clark. The story is told in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (volume 1) – see the link here which will open at the letter said to be from Lady Rosemary. She is also said to have shown the white cockade to George IV when he visited Edinburgh in 1822 – the first Hanoverian monarch to do so and at a point where all things Scottish became popular thanks to the king and thus opened up the way for Sir Walter Scott at a slightly later date to play on the romanticism that Victorians liked – making it difficult sometimes to identify actual chivalric attitudes from fictional flourishes.
As for MacDonald – he was A.D.C.to Prince Charles. He was taken prisoner and sent to Edinburgh in the aftermath of Culloden before being sent to Carlisle along with other notable Jacobite prisoners. His house at Kinlochmoidart was destroyed by Cumberland’s men. The prince had stayed there from the 11-17 August 1745 before he raised his standard and no doubt the Scot was proud of his home as he had only had it remodelled during the previous few years. The whole estate was forfeit when MacDonald was executed on the 18th October 1746. It was ultimately repurchased by his grandson.
Once again song gets in on the act although as is often the case with folk history forms historians are uncertain as to who composed it although there is a definite link to the Jaobites – the Lament for MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart tells of his clan’s grief at the death of their lord.
The sun is clouded. The hills are shrouded;
The sea is silent, it ends its roar.
The streams are crying; winds are sighing,
Our Moidart hero returns no more.
Hervey Fitzmaurice once owned the Manor of Dalston just south of Carlisle and with it, Rose Castle at Raughton Head, these days the location of several pleasant walks.
In 1186 Fitzmaurice managed to irritate Henry II who removed both items and kept them for himself. Eventually the Crown granted the property to the Bishop of Carlisle, Walter Mauclerk who also happened to be the Lord Treasurer, in 1230. He possible wanted to move from the previous official residence of the bishops at Linstock Castle on account of it being a bit too close for comfort to the action of the Scottish Wars of Independence. Of course it wasn’t long for Rose Castle also become a target – its history and its medieval architecture reflect the uncertain nature of border dwelling. Sixty-three bishops of Carlisle have used Rose Castle as their residence until the decision to relocate in 2009.
During the early stages of the castle’s development there was a motte and bailey but over time its appearance changed though it was probably still wooden when Edward I and his lady wife (Margaret of France) stayed there in 1300. Edward Bruce stayed there as well for three days – though not necessarily at the invitation of either the monarch or the bishop. Things must have been quite lively in 1314, the year of Bannockburn, because the Scots burned the place to the ground. They returned the following year to lay siege to Carlisle but were repulsed by Sir Andrew de Harcla.
In 1336 Bishop Kirkby received his licence to crenellate- ie to fortify the building. Bishop Welton received a similar licence in 1335. It is thought that he built Pottinger’s Tower in the southwest corner of the range. It’s known as Pottinger’s Tower on account of the fact that someone called Pottinger hanged themselves in it rather than on account of the builder. It contained three rooms as well as the vaulted chamber at the bottom of the tower. Ultimately it would also house a wash house and a diary according to the nineteenth century history of Cumberland by William Hutchinson.
Another tower was built, or rebuilt, between 1400 and 1419 by Bishop Strickland – which is the building to the right of the picture. Strickland also got to grips with Penrith Castle Not to be outdone Bishop Bell built a further tower in 1488 and a fifth tower was built on the site by Bishop Kite in Tudor times (1522) and it also bore the name of its builder- it was next door to Pottinger’s tower and added an additional two living rooms to the complex. Evidently the bishops of Carlisle were keen on towers! By this time readers are probably thinking that either the bishops were a particularly warlike bunch or scaredy-cats cowering behind a variety of red stone towers whilst the parishioners of their diocese got on with the business of reiving and being reived. In actual fact it is thought that the bishops wanted to improve the amenities of their des res and have a little bit of privacy.
As is the way of these things events took a turn for the worse with the English Civil War. The Parliamentarians occupied it twice and did rather a lot of damage. The medieval castle which by then was an irregular quadrangle bounded by a ditch needed a face lift. The parliamentarians ordered a survey which was carried out by 1650 at the latest. It was noted that the castle was in “great decay.” During this time the bishop wasn’t in residence it was only upon the Restoration that Bishop Rainbow set about this by knocking down the south and east ranges of the tower and by renovating the west and north aspects of the castle – he had a bit of a job on his hands as records state the La Rose as the castle is sometimes known was uninhabitable..
And that was pretty much it until the Victorians got hold of it.
John Halton, or de Halton, was an Augustinian Canon in Carlisle. He was elected the ninth Bishop of Carlisle on 23 April 1292 making him bishop during the reigns of Edward I and then Edward II – and putting him on the front line for the First Scottish War of Independence.
As well as caring for the spiritual concerns of his flock- his Register of the incumbents of the diocese still exists- he was also a busy diplomat and entertainer of royalty. The Magna Britannia records him entertaining the king at Rose Castle (the principle residence until recently of the Bishops of Carlisle) in 1306 from 28 August until 10 September.
He was sent to Scotland in 1294 by the king and was a papal tax collector in Scotland (which possibly didn’t enhance his popularity with the locals and may account for why the Scots burned Rose Castle down at the first available opportunity – though obviously that’s my own personal spin on events). On a more factual level, he was Governor of Carlisle Castle at one point, so had custody of Scottish prisoners and hostages – little did he realise that five hundred years later there would be so many Scottish Jacobite captives in Carlisle that the cathedral would have to be used as a prison.
It was Halton together with the Archbishop of York who excommunicated Robert Bruce in 1305 after the killing of John Comyn and in 1306 he absolved everyone of their offences against the King’s enemies in Scotland which must have pleased the English borderers no end as they could then steal and kill with neither fear of hellfire and damnation nor, at the very least, a long time in Purgatory. For his pains he was involved in the Seige of Carlisle in 1314 when Edward Bruce attempted to take the city. He fled the border for large chunks of time enjoying the peace and quiet of Lincolnshire. He was one of the king’s representatives in the treaty signed between England and Scotland in 1320.
The following year he turned up at a meeting held by Thomas of Lancaster which was the first indication of the barons uprising against Edward II. There’s no evidence that Halton was involved any further but trouble and the bishop seemed to have gone hand in hand. He died in 1324 having lived through some turbulent times on the border.