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The Keep (Caesar’s Tower), Appleby Castle

Case study: Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria CA16 6XH (North West)

List entry number: 1003276

Appleby Castle keep scheduled monument at risk closed for repairs
Appleby Castle dominates the market town of Appleby, with the keep being the most visually striking built feature of the landscape. Major investment is required to put the structure into good repair.

Background and history

Appleby Castle stands on a hill overlooking the town of Appleby and the surrounding Eden Valley. It is situated picturesquely alongside the meandering River Eden. Appleby is a spectacular motte and bailey castle set in beautiful landscaped grounds. The site consists of a keep, a mansion house and a curtain wall.

The keep, also known as Caesar's Tower, is a square stone built structure dating from about 1170. It was constructed on the site of an earlier timber structure. It is one of the country's few remaining intact Norman keeps. Originally of three storeys, it was later raised to four. Its significance is recognised by the fact that it is both a grade I listed building and a scheduled monument.

One of the Castle's most famous residents was Lady Anne Clifford. She altered the interior of the keep in the 17th century. Its distinctive pepper-pot turrets were added in the late 18th century.

The keep has been unoccupied for many years and its condition has suffered as a result. Structural cracking has become apparent in more recent times. Although propping and ties have been installed to stop further movement, deterioration continues.

Is it at risk?

The development of cracking and the bulging of the walls of the keep is a serious concern. This appears to be due to rainwater penetration of the wall core and the washing out of material below the foundations.

The keep was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2008. Historic England has since been working collaboratively with the owner to understand more clearly the reasons for deterioration of the fabric.

Appleby Castle keep scheduled monument at risk under scaffolding
The imposing 12th century keep at Appleby Castle is currently covered in scaffolding for emergency repairs and close inspection of the building’s fabric. This will enhance understanding of the causes and extent of structural movement in the keep.

What's the current situation?

A grant was awarded by Historic England to the owner in 2015. This is funding work which is now in progress under the supervision of a conservation accredited engineer. The work includes structural monitoring, geo-technical investigation and minor emergency repairs.

These important investigations are informing understanding of the causes and extent of the deterioration of the keep. Their findings will enable the production of a comprehensive schedule of repairs. Significant further investment will be required to put this remarkable, eye-catching building into a sound condition.

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