A Rose Tinted Spectacle

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Anthony Salvin isn’t an instantly recognisable name. Yet many instantly recognisable buildings know the hand of Anthony Salvin. Between 1799 and 1881, Salvin became, according to the famous art historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the most successful restorer and purveyor of castles in the 2nd half of the 19th Century.

Salvin pioneered the Gothic revival in English architecture. Windsor, Carisbrooke, Muncaster, Alnwick, and Norwich Castles all felt the hand of Salvin. Durham Cathedral and Trinity College, Cambridge too. The Tower of London and University College, Durham rang to the sound of Salvin’s stone masons. Among the 38 new churches Salvin built; St. Johns, Keswick, and Holy Trinity Church, Ulverston stand out as local exemplars.

Anthony Salvin ca.1860’s by David Wilkie Wynfield
Photo ©The Royal Academy

In 1852, Salvin was asked to design & undertake work on the restoration of Rose Castle, home to the Bishops of Carlisle since 1336. Rose Castle lies hidden from view along the B5299 Dalston to Caldbeck road, but turn down the country lanes towards Rose Bridge, or better still, on foot following the Cumbria Way, and this rose-tinted spectacle becomes conspicuous amidst the greenery of the upper Caldew valley.


This walk begins and ends in Dalston, now a dormitory town for Carlisle that once enjoyed an industrious past built on the cotton and flax industry and powered by the River Caldew. It was prosperous too, with ninety-six listed buildings within the Parish.

Dalston on the 1880 Ordnance Survey Map

The Caldew has always played a fundamental part in the prosperity of Dalston (Deall’s farm/settlement). The Romans established a corn mill on the River and the woolen industry boomed in the fifteenth century. In 1666 a bay at Lakeheughs diverted water from the Caldew into a mill-race. Water from this mill-race, or dam as it was known, was directed into the Forge Pond (where The Forge houses now stand) to power Bishop’s Corn Mill and the water wheels and trip hammers further downstream.

The first cotton mill was built in 1782 at Mill Ellers and by 1830 there were four cotton mills, two corn mills, and a forge. The forge made tools for agricultural use and built on two sites: one at The Pond and the other at Walk Mill. Much of Mill Ellers burnt down in 1901, with the four-story Mill being reduced to two stories, which remain today. The sixteen-foot wheel turned until 1970. The new housing development at Buckabank echoes its industrious past in its street names, The Forge, Mill Walk, Bishops’ Mill.

Buckabank on the 1868 Ordnance Survey Map

We follow the Cumbria Way south towards Hawkesdale Hall, which was built as Hawkesdale Low House in 1694 by John Nicholson, brother of the then Bishop of Carlisle.

Lime House School and Rose Bridge

Beyond Hawkesdale Hall, The Cumbria Way skirts the entrance to Lime House School. The school was thought to have been established in 1899 in Wetheral, a small village to the east of Carlisle, but in 2012, three Lime House School reports emerged dated 1865, adding another 34 years to its history. The school moved to its present location in 1946 and now offers co-educational private day or boarding for 7 to 18-year-olds.

Beyond Lime House, our path hugs the west bank of the River Caldew until Rose Bridge. This listed bridge replaced the one washed away in 1803. A perfect place for lunch and a read of the Rose Castle information panel.

Rose Bridge by Thomas Bushby (1861 – 1918)
Bushby was a Carlisle painter and lithographer who exhibited at the
Royal Academy, Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Institute.

Rose Castle

On 9th April 1336, Johannes, Episcopus Karleol [John, Bishop of Carlisle] was granted, by Edward III, in year 10 of his reign a Royal License to crenelate La Roos.

La Roos was certainly built on the site of an existing C12 Motte & Bailey Castle. The Barony of Dalston was granted to Bishop Mauclerk of Carlisle in 1230. Within months, one of the bishop’s servants is named Geoffrey de la Rose, evidence that a named manor house already existed.

Originally the castle was built around four sides of a central courtyard, though two sides of this have now gone. The oldest part, Bishop Strickland’s Tower (C1400-1419) was burnt, with much of the rest of the castle, by Parliamentary troops during the 1648 Civil War.

Early Plan of Rose Castle showing the pre-Civil War Quadrangle

During the Royalists’ rising of 1648, the castle was garrisoned by a party of them but soon fell to a detachment of General Lambert’s Parliamentary Army who, after occupying the place for a short while, set fire to it. 41 of 49 rooms were destroyed. Rose Castle. By Canon C. M. L. Bouch, F.S.A. Sep. 1955.

The ruins were restored in the 1760s, and then more substantially for Bishop Percy in 1852 by the ubiquitous hand of Anthony Salvin.

In August 2016, Rose Castle was sold by the Church Commissioners for England. It is now home to Rose Castle Foundation, an international reconciliation centre, and charity whose work is three-fold, dealing with reconciliation across religious boundaries, within religious boundaries, and between religious and secular divides. 

One of the earliest mentions of the Rose Castle gardens dates back to 1400 when the then Bishop, William Strickland, maintained a small area known as Le Herber which was set aside for growing roses and vegetables. It was a common practice for late medieval houses to be named after a prominent natural feature of the place.

Today, following tradition, scented roses and poppies thrive in borders and against the ancient walls, appropriate that the quiescence of Rose Castle and its gardens continue to provide a harbour for the conflict resolution it helps to facilitate today.


Distance: 9.6 km (6 miles) | Ascent: 88 m (288 ft)


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