Yanwath Hall

Yanwath Hall © Gordon Lightburn

Yanwath Hall is one of the best examples of a pele tower to survive in Cumbria. It is not open to the public.

Yanwath Hall is an important example of a medieval semi-fortified building with later alterations – perhaps one of the best preserved in Cumbria. The three-storey pele tower was built by John de Sutton in 1322 and would have provided a defensive shelter from raids by the Border Reivers. The tower and south range were largely rebuilt by the Threlkeld family in the early 15th century and the east range may well have been added during this period. In the early 16th century, the hall passed by marriage to the Dudleys who rebuilt the tower and added large windows and plaster work on the second floor. The hall was sold to the Lowthers in 1654 for £2,000.

The hall is built from pink sandstone and the tower has walls 1.6 – 2 metres thick and an embattled parapet and turrets. The ground floor is barrel-vaulted. Entrance to the upper storeys is via a narrow stone spiral staircase. The hall on the first floor was plastered in the 16th century when the large windows were added. Above the fireplace is a plaster panel baring the arms of Queen Elizabeth I. The second floor was a solarium and both this and the floor above contain garde-robes (toilets).

The south range was rebuilt in the early 15th century. It was originally a hall with a kitchen at the east end. A small opening by the fireplace has been identified as a gun loop – a hole in the wall through which a defending gunman could fire. The east range may have been added in the late 15th century and the north range in the late 16th or early 17th century. The house has a barmkin, or walled courtyard, comprising a large barn and a range of farmyard buildings.

During the ownership of the second Earl of Lonsdale, William Lowther, the house was restored by Thomas Wilkinson, the Quaker who lived in a neighbouring house, The Grotto. Wilkinson was a friend of William Wordsworth who wrote the poem, “To the Spade of a Friend”, having helped Wilkinson dig a pathway along the River Eamont.

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