Carlisle Things to Do

  • Carlisle Citadel.
    Carlisle Citadel.
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  • Market Cross.
    Market Cross.
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  • Carlisle old town hall.
    Carlisle old town hall.
    by IreneMcKay

Most Recent Things to Do in Carlisle

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    Bitts Park

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014
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    Bitts park is just behind the castle. It is bordered at the northern end by the River Eden.

    As it was a hot day during our visit, the park was full of people enjoying the sunshine.

    Bitts Park has a large and popular children's play area. It also had a small maze and an interesting musical garden, where people can create their own music by hitting the musical sculptures. The park also contains a statue of Queen Victoria and during our visit lots of wonderful spring flowers.

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    Carlisle Castle

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014

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    If you are arriving into Carlisle by train pick up a leaflet for two for the price of one entry to sites for rail travellers, fill in the voucher at the back and you can get into the castle cheaper.

    Carlisle Castle is one of, if not the, most besieged castles in Britain due to its location on the Scottish/English border.

    In Roman times there was a fort on this site. The earliest castle here was built by King William Rufus in1092. That castle was made of wood. The castle was later rebuilt in stone by Henry 1. The oldest surviving part of the castle is the keep which dates from the twelfth century.
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    Inside the keep etched into some of the stone walls you can see beautiful carvings drawn by unfortunate captives who were imprisoned here by the future Richard lll in 1480.

    One famous captive at the castle was Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned here when she fled Scotland in1568:

    Carlisle Castle was captured by the Jacobites during the Jacobite uprising that aimed to put Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne. When the Duke of Cumberland regained control of the castle, many Jacobites were imprisoned here. They were kept in cramped conditions in pitch black rooms and were forced to lick the walls of the castle to stop themselves dying of thirst. Those that survived that ordeal were executed.

    The castle was also once home to the Borders Regiment and houses their museum.

    Entry to the castle is £5.90 for adults.

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    Tullie House

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014
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    Between the cathedral and the castle lies Tullie House. This seventeenth century townhouse now houses Carlisle's Museum and Art Gallery. I did not go into the museum but I did treat myself to a cappuchino in the restaurant and enjoy the house's beautiful, colourful gardens. There's a Jacobean garden and a Roman garden all filled with beautiful plants. The front of the house had some very ornate drain pipes, too. Children were enjoying a spot of pond dipping in the gardens during our visit.

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    Inside and round about.

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014
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    My favourite part of the cathedral interior was the lovely ceiling with its blue skies and many suns. Nearby on the outside you can see a miniature model of the cathedral. St Cuthbert's Church is located nearby, too.

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    Carlisle Cathedral

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014

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    Carlisle Cathedral is not only a beautiful building in its own right, but is also surrounded by several other lovely old buildings.

    The cathedral dates originally from 1122, though it has been rebuilt several times. In 1292, for example, it was rebuilt after a devastating fire.

    The cathedral's ceiling is very beautiful like looking at a starry night sky. There are also several interesting tombs, painted wall panels, lovely stain glass windows and a treasury.

    Entry to the cathedral is free but there are requests for donations for the upkeep of this lovely building.

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    The Guildhall

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014

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    The guildhall.

    Carlisle's guildhall is close to the old town hall and the market cross. It is housed in an attractive black and white building which is now the guildhall museum. This building was once home to Carlisle's ancient trade guilds.

    The guildhall dates from the late 14th century. It was originally built as a private house for local citizen Richard of Redness. When he died, Richard left the house to the city and it became a meeting point for several guilds such as: the butchers, merchants, shoemakers, glovers, smiths, tailors, tanners and weavers.

    The guildhall museum houses among other things the huge iron-clad chest that once stored the city's documents and Carlisle's medieval stocks.

    Admission is free.

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    Carlisle town hall and main square.

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014

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    Market Cross.
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    Carlisle's old town hall building is now the tourist information office. In front of it there was an excellent market during our visit which sold lots of different foods and drinks including Polish bigosh, German sausages and American burgers. Also located in front of it is Carlisle's lion topped market cross which dates from 1682.

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    The Citadel

    by IreneMcKay Written Apr 21, 2014

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    Carlisle Citadel.

    Right next to the railway station in Carlisle there are two old drum towers, which are known as the citadel of Carlisle. Pass through these to enter the old town of Carlisle.

    The drum towers were built in 1541 by Henry VIII. Their role was to strengthen the southern approach to the city and shield it from attack. At one time these towers were the home of Carlisle's court and gaol. The west tower was the place for criminal trials and the east tower was used for civil trials.

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    Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery

    by Drever Written Mar 8, 2014
    The Guild hall part of the museum
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    If you want to know the history of Carlise then visit Tullie House Museum. Carlisle sits almost on the border between Scotland and England and changed hands several times. Even in Roman times it had to be strongly defended against those tribes north of Hadrian’s Wall so there’s a lot to cover.

    Old Tullie House is a classical Jacobean grade one listed building sitting in the centre of Carlisle across from Carlisle Castle. Combined with its modern extensions, it contains both a Museum and Art Gallery.

    The Border Galleries covers the area’s history from Stone Age times right through to Victorian England. A vast array of Roman artefacts and displays cover the Roman Period. Interactive displays allow visitors to try on some Roman armour, write in wax, trace over stones, straddle a Roman horse, enter a Roman hut or shoot a bow and arrow to bring down a goat.

    These galleries also house the wildlife dome, an interactive area which gives an eight-minute dramatic audio-visual of the area with life like sky patterns and a chance to see what is lurking underneath rocks.

    Finally there’s the Border Reivers Cinema, this gives the violent story of the Border Reiver in graphic terms. For a time the Border Area didn’t properly come under the control of either England or Scotland and there were constant raids to steal cattle or sheep over the border. Houses design consisted essentially of two types - those easily rebuilt if destroyed or strongly built tower houses, which could withstand a siege.

    The Carlisle life gallery is a new area of the museum that chronicles life in Carlisle over the last 100 years. Again this is an interactive area having old toys, appliances and costumes to try on.

    The Millennium gallery added in 2000-01, houses a collection of minerals and freshwater life exhibition. It is child friendly with many interactive features such as catch a fish, examine water insects through microscopes, or colour in drawings.

    This area is home to the infamous 'Cursing Stone' of sculpted granite inscribed with a 16th century curse against robbers, blackmailers and highwaymen who blighted the area 500 years ago. The more superstitious in Carlisle blame it for the foot-and-mouth cattle disease in 2001, major flooding in 2004, local fires, job losses and even relegation of the football team!

    The Art Galleries current exhibition ‘Parallax View’ is by Andrew Livingstone. It represents British porcelain production at the height of the ceramics industry in the 18th and 19th century. These ornate candlesticks and figurines made for society’s elite may now appear twee though to me they still looked magnificent. Livingstone seeks to uncover the story behind each piece. Some displays bring the stories painted on plates to life and a video shows the stages and skills going into some elaborate pieces. As I told the attendant on the way out ‘It is an excellent exhibitions’.

    Also run by the museum is the Carlisle Guildhall Museum at Fisher Street housed in the upstairs of Carlisle's only medieval house. Built in 1407 of timber, tile bricks and clay it still stands proudly. The builders fashioned the parts in the surrounding forests and transported them to the construction site and assembled them there. The floors slant in various directions due to the levels of the site and the nature of the tree trunks or branches forming the building. A cutaway in one room displays the wattle-and daub composition of the wall.

    The tradesmen of the time protected their skills by forming special associations or Guilds. Carlisle had eight Trade Guilds, and each had one room in this building as a meeting place. The Guilds were Butchers, Merchants, Shoemakers, Skinners, Smiths, Tailors, Tanners and Weavers.

    Each of the Guild Rooms has its own special interest - ranging from the ship's cabin-like atmosphere of the Shoemakers room to the unexpectedly Victorian character of the Butcher's Room. Historic Guild objects are on view. There are many items of Guild silver dating mainly from the early 18th century and the Guild Banners flown from the Guildhall on important occasions.

    All in all Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery offers a fascinating insight into the history of the area.

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    Carlisle Cathedral

    by Drever Written Mar 8, 2014

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    I love to gaze at outstanding pieces of architecture and fine examples are found in many churches and cathedrals. They are examples of what faith can inspire and were at the forefront of technology in times past. They were taller and more creative structures than anything surrounding them during their heyday. On seeing Carlisle Cathedral it immediately beckoned.

    It bears the distinction of being the second smallest cathedral in England after Oxford Cathedral. Built in 1122 of local red sandstone as a monastic church in the Norman architectural style it featured solid masonry, large round piers, round arches and smallish round headed windows. These still exist in the south transept and the remaining two bays of the nave, which now serves as the Chapel of the Border Regiment. In 1133 the church gained cathedral status.

    In the 13th century rebuilding resulted in the choir of the cathedral being wider and in the Gothic style. By 1322 the arcades and the easternmost bay were complete. The Gothic arcade has richly moulded arches with dog's tooth decoration, and the twelve capitals have vegetation and small lively figures, representing the labours of the months, carved into them.

    By 1350 the elaborate tracery and glass of the east window was in place. This window is one of the finest examples of Flowing Decorated Gothic tracery in Britain. It is the largest in England, being 51 feet high and 26 feet wide. The tracery still contains much of its original medieval glass.

    With the Dissolution of the Monasteries from 1536, and the establishment by Henry VIII of the Church of England as the country's official church, Carlisle cathedral survived. During the English Civil War, the Scottish Presbyterian Army demolished a portion of the nave of the cathedral for stone to reinforce Carlisle Castle. Between 1853-70 restoration work brought the cathedral back to its former glory.

    The cathedral boasts a strikingly beautiful renovated barrel-vaulted painted ceiling in the choir, which dates to the fourteenth century. Painted in vivid blue with gold trim and composed of thin wooden planks, an upward facing mirror allows visitors to view the ceiling without craning their necks.

    In the north and south aisles are medieval paintings depicting the Life of St. Cuthbert, St. Augustine and St. Antony and the figures of the twelve Apostles. The Brougham Triptych, a magnificent sixteenth century carved Flemish altarpiece resides in St. Wilfrid's Chapel.

    The early fifteenth century choir stalls and misericords are noteworthy examples of medieval carving. These consist of hinged seats carved with many figures and creatures carved from black oak to keep the monks from falling asleep while at prayers. The misericords of Carlisle include half-length angels, beasts, hybrid creatures, and story scenes, including the inverted world theme of the Woman beating a Man that no decent set of misericords could be without.

    The treasury contains a display of Christian and Diocesan silver and treasure, explaining the story of Christianity in Cumbria through the centuries.

    In its long history the Cathedral has witnessed many important events. In 1297 it was the setting when King Robert Bruce of Scotland swore his loyalty to the English Crown in front of his future opponent King Edward I 'the Hammer of the Scots'.

    During the second Jacobite Rebellion against the Hanoverian King George II in 1745 in support of the Catholic Stuart's claim to the crown, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highlanders mounted an invasion of England. They seized Carlisle and its castle. When the government troops recaptured the city they imprisoned the Jacobites inside the Cathedral before they faced torture and execution – whence the Christian spirit?

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    Carlisle Castle

    by Drever Written Mar 8, 2014

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    View of Keep of Carlisle Castle
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    Carlisle Castle is a must see for visitors to Carlisle and we duly headed for its grim fortifications. This great medieval fortress, has watched over the City of Carlisle for over nine centuries. It was a constantly updated working fortress until recently. Today English Heritage manages the castle and visitors can explore its rich and varied visitor attractions reflecting its long and eventful history.

    The history of this site dates from an important Roman fortress here guarding their northern border. When William the Conqueror invaded England, Scotland had held this territory for the preceding 200 years. William’s son, William II, however defeated the Scots and claimed the area for England. He ordered his men to build a Norman style motte and bailey castle here to guard against attempts by the Scots to regain the territory. Construction began in 1093. In 1122, King Henry I of England ordered that a stone castle replace it. Gradually the squat frowning keep of the present castle and city walls arose to protect the city.

    The Castle came under attack on many occasions during the first seven centuries of its construction. In the 12th century the Scottish King, David I captured the city. He completed the walls and stone keep. It served as his Royal Palace. However after his death the English seized back the city and castle. The castle again fell temporarily into Scottish possession during the Civil War.

    Henry VIII updating the castle for heavy artillery. From his time dates the keep's rounded 'shot-deflecting' battlements and the Half-Moon Battery defending the Captain's Tower gateway.

    The most important battles for the city of Carlisle and its castle were during 1745 when Jacobites arose for a second time, this time against King George II of Great Britain. The forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart marching south from Scotland into England reached as far south as Derby. On the way they seized Carlisle and its castle and fortified it. However the forces of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the son of George II drove them north again but they left a garrison behind in Carlisle Castle to slow down the pursuit.

    The surrender of the Jacobite garrison to superior forces marked the end of the castle's fighting life, as defending the border between England and Scotland was not necessary with both countries now forming a peaceful united country, Great Britain.

    A series of storyboards in the keep tell the story of the Jacobite Rising. After their surrender here their captors imprisoned them in the keep's dank basement. Visitors can see the 'licking stones" the prisoners licked to get enough moisture to stay alive, a wasted effort for brutal execution on Gallows Hill followed! The exhibitions also cover the exploits of Elizabethan Border Reivers (Raiders) and the Civil War siege. One room contains the remnants of a large fireplace, added during the 14th century. The second floor has strange mysterious carvings cut in about 1480.

    Other buildings within the Inner Bailey include the Captain's Tower (or inner Gatehouse) dating from the 12th century. Heavy wooden doors, a portcullis and the gruesome 'murder holes defended it. Perhaps most famously, the far north-east corner contain the ruins of Queen Mary's Tower. Here Mary Queen of Scots stayed in captivity when she fled from Scotland. Along "Lady’s Walk" she used to walk in the sunshine under the watchful eyes of her guards.

    With such a troubled and chequered history, it is not difficult to understand why Carlisle Castle has undergone several rebuilding programmes over the centuries. Nonetheless, it is still an imposing castle, and the permanent exhibitions are informative about the major historical events that have taken place at Carlisle Castle.

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    A World in miniature Museum

    by daleandles Updated Jul 30, 2011

    Whether you are into miniatures or not, this is an amazing place. The work is superb. Definately not just dolls houses, this is an amazing example of craftsman's art. For four pound entry we had nearly 2 hours of the most amazing fun, the more you looked the more you saw! There is a higher step up for kids and short people. All the miniatures are under glass or set into the wall. Magnifying glasses are given at the door. They even have the smallest bear in the world. He's about 2 mm high and is stuffed with movable arms and legs. Great place if it's raining too. Dolls houses, miniatures, train sets and papercraft are also for sale outside.

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    The Pre-Raphaelite collection at Tullie House

    by ange_famine Written Aug 6, 2008

    Tullie House, a museum opposite the Castle, calls for a visit on many, many grounds, but be sure to visit the first floor of the little house if you're a Pre-Raphaelite fan.
    You'll see a few Rossetti and Burne-Jones paintings, among others, some of those quite rare.
    For example, they hold a draft of Burne-Jones' "The Wheel of Fortune", that is, to my taste, even better than the original.

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    Tullie House

    by clivedinburgh Written Mar 26, 2006

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    The museum was founded by Carlisle Corporation in 1893 and used the residence of the Tullie family who were a prominant family in Carlisle for generations. A major expansion of the museum took place in the 1990s and now includes a lecture theatre, gallery and restaurant.

    Numerous workshops run throughout the year and most of the exhibitions are free to view.

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    Carlisle Cathedral

    by clivedinburgh Written Mar 26, 2006

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    The cathedral was founded in 1122 and features a stunning 14th century stained glass window in the East wall.

    The Prior's Kitchen is located in the undercroft opposite the Cathedral entrance and there is a gallery located above it.

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