Brougham Hall II

The place fit for royalty was not built overnight. It was essentially a renovation built on and around much earlier structures which were in a state of disrepair as Lord Henry Brougham was rising in his career.

By the 1820s a new age of castle building had begun. Many landowners were no longer satisfied with the Strawberry Hill-style Gothic of the previous generation. They wanted a more scholarly, realistic ‘medieval’ appearance. Building an authentic-looking mock-gothic castle also helped newly wealthy families to establish themselves, and the adoption of dubious medieval pedigrees and armorial bearings gave a superficial impression of ‘old money’.

Mark Thomas. History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. 1992.

In 1829 the old tower at Brougham Hall collapsed which prompted consideration for the rebuilding the entire Hall.

The Hall was largely rebuilt from 1829 to 1847 and again in the 1860s at which time it was the home of the Lord Chancellor Brougham. Brougham Hall reached its zenith in Victorian times when it acquired the name of  ‘the Windsor of the North’ owing to royal visits by King Edward VII and his son, the future King George VI, who became regular guests between 1857 and 1905.

Mark Thomas. History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. 1992.
Photo of an architectural model made in 1988 by Rebekkah Wright and Dave Johnson from A History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. I made architectural models for a living in the 1990s. I know what went into this thing, so hats off to the model makers.

In 1810 Henry Brougham put his brother James in charge of Brougham Hall. After James died in debit in 1834, brother William took over James’ debits and management of the hall.

William is one of the most significant men in the history of Brougham Hall and the Broughams. A clever lawyer and capable businessman who was M.P. for Southwark from 1831-4, he acted as a kind of press agent for Henry when he was Lord Chancellor. William was also a Master in Chancery from 1831 until 1852. Most importantly for Brougham Hall he was a medieval architecture enthusiast who kept sketchbooks of possible designs and probably established links with Cottingham (the architect). Cottingham approvingly called his taste “imbued with Gothic”.

Mark Thomas. History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. 1992.
  • 1835 Demolition of the Mediaeval Hall at Brougham Hall began.
  • 1840 The Pele Tower is heightened; other work by L N Cottingham.
  • 1843 Further rebuilding of Brougham Hall, by L N Cottingham.
  • 1844 The Durham Sanctuary Door Knocker replica is cast at Brougham.
  • 1847 Architect L N Cottingham dies
  • 1861 Final rebuilding of the Hall by Richard Charles Hussey
  • 1856 Brougham Hall is slightly damaged by fire.
  • 1857 First visit, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.
  • 1863 The library and billiard room are built at Brougham Hall.
  • 1864 The Hussey rebuild (for comfort’s sake), is completed.
1846 Lithotint – “Brougham Hall, Westmorland” by F W Hulme published 1846 by Chapman & Hall.

William Brougham apparently went a little off the deep end with his medieval fantasies. You can see the people in Elizabethan costume in the 1846 lithotint (above) as characters in William’s imagination. 

A really enthusiastic antiquarian, he was a compulsive builder. This sometimes led him to pass off the high-class fakery he had commissioned for the interiors of the Hall and chapel as genuinely medieval. He also invented bits of history. Besides devising the dubious Brougham pedigree, he may also have ‘found’ the legend of the Brougham skull. 

In October 1846 his workmen discovered the skeletons of the de Burghams at nearby Ninekirks church. William then seems to have kept the presumed skull, sword and prick-spur of Gilbert de Burgham at the Hall. The superstition ran that unless a skull was kept at the Hall its inhabitants would be disturbed by horrendous noises at night!

Mark Thomas. History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. 1992. p. 66
The armor hall at Brougham designed by architect architect L N Cottingham. Source: Mark Thomas. History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle, p.82

Skeletons! Ghosts! Knights in shining armor. The medieval armor that hung in the armor hall at Brougham I understand was authentically old but but second hand, purchased to represent a lineage deeper than our particular family might strictly claim, but so what, it was the gesture that mattered, a display in praise of (doubtful) noble service and (questionable) good breeding, even if the effect was a little gloomy.

Library, Brougham Hall, Penrith, England. Penrith England, 1892. Library of Congress photographs collection.
Armory, brougham Hall, Penrith, England. Penrith England, 1892. Library of Congress photographs collection.

These 1892 stereographs showing the library and armory at Brougham Hall was issued the same year the future King George V visited Brougham Hall with his father. Other royal visitors followed culminating with the visit of King Edward VII.

The visit began on Thursday 14 October 1905. After the king had stayed two weeks at Balmoral, the royal train left Ballater Station at 9.50 a.m. that day, arriving at Carlisle at 4.06 p.m. to the cheering of thousands of onlookers. Policemen were on duty on the sealed off platform. A party of railway officials attended, including Sir Frederick Harrison, London and North-Western Railway’s general manager. Driven by the engine Aurania, the royal train set off for Clifton and Lowther station. The platform had been covered with red carpet, the rails with red and white material, and a red and white canvas awning stretched from the entrance gate to the platform edge. Under this canopy there was a fine display of hanging baskets and exotic plants provided by Mr. Isaac Relph, of Herd Bros., Victoria Nurseries, Penrith. The road to Lowther was lined with Cumberland and Westmorland policemen, marshalled by Mr. C. de Courcy Parry, Chief Constable of both counties.

The King was visiting a house headed by Henry Brougham, 3rd Baron Brougham & Vaux (1836-1827). 

This Henry was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He spent time in India and had an Indian wife, presumably common-law, who bore him a daughter Agnes Brougham, 1875–1930. Lord Brougham next married Adora Frances Olga, in 1882. They had one son and one daughter. Brougham died shortly after his only son, so the barony passed to his grandson, the infamous cousin Victor.

Henry Charles, 3rd Lord Brougham (1836-1927). Mark Thomas. A History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle, p. 95.

It looks like Henry Charles and the King had the same taste in hats.