1200 - 1500


When Carlisle is in Scottish hands, the government of Henry III writes to the Archbishop of York regarding the welfare of the Bishop of Carlisle, ‘…the bishop is in the utmost need, and hardly has where to lay his head.’



Henry III gives the manor of La Rose to Bishop Walter Mauclerc.



Bishop Walter Mauclerc receives a present of a pack of staghounds from Henry III.



King Edward І and Queen Margaret visit La Rose.


During a truce in the conflicts between the Scots and the English, Robert the Bruce’s brother, Edward, stays for three days at the bishop’s house at Rose.


Bishop John de Halton restocks the fish ponds at La Rose after raids by the Scots.
Twenty-four young deer are brought to restock the park.


Robert the Bruce burns La Rose.


Bishop John de Kirkby given permission to crenellate the bishop’s manor at Rose.



Scots return to raid Carlisle. They burn the bishop’s manor at Rose, ‘…and everything on their way there.’


Scots again burn the bishop’s manor. ‘It is unlikely that Bishop John de Kirkby or Bishop de Welton cultivated rose and lily, hollyhock and peony, for the ever-present foe to trample underfoot.’


Bishop Gilbert de Welton given permission to crenellate his dwelling at Rose.


Bishop Thomas de Appleby excommunicates poachers. ‘…those sons of iniquity who had broken into his park of Rose and took his deer with dogs, nets and other engines…’

1400 – 1419

Bishop William Strickland rebuilds Strickland’s Tower and gives his name to it. An area known as ‘Le Herber’ is set aside for the cultivation of vegetables.


‘The inner court was paved with cobbles, and the outer court was occasionally strewn with dried peat broken into small pieces…the hall was strewn with fresh rushes.’
Staff at Rose Castle includes a butcher, miller, baker, brewer, maltster and cook. A reeve looks after the tithe of geese.
Apples, pears and plums grow in the orchard and around the castle.

1488 – 1489

Bishop Richard Bell builds chapel on first floor and adds Bell’s Tower.

1500 - 1800

1522 – 1524

Bishop John Kite builds Kite’s Tower and rebuilds east range of Rose.


Bishop Richard Barnes assures Queen Elizabeth that, during his incumbency, ‘timber trees’ were not felled.


Bishop Henry Robinson dies of the plague at Rose Castle.


Mrs Milbourne, wife of Bishop Richard Milbourne, sends apples from Rose Castle orchard to Naworth Castle.


Bishop Barnabas Potter dies at Rose Castle; there is no successor at Rose until the Restoration of 1660.


Much of Rose Castle and Strickland’s Tower burnt by Parliamentarian troops during the Civil War.
‘…Rose Castle, the Bishop’s best seat, hath lately the rose therein withered, and the prickles in the ruins thereof alone remain.’


Rose Castle falls into Parliamentary hands.
In the Commonwealth Survey it is noted ‘…the fish ponds about the castle are grown up with weeds…an orchard without the south and east quarter of the castle containing about three roods of ground…there are fine walks of oak and ash…the trees growing near and about the castle, being in number 120…’
The surveyors also recorded ‘…there is in the midst of the square of the aforesaid castle a very useful fountain which runneth continually and serveth the offices in the said house with water.’


Sir William Heveningham buys Rose Castle and restores part of the west range.


Restoration of the Church of England, Diocese and Bishopric.
Bishop Richard Sterne restores Rose Castle chapel.


1672 – 1675

William Thackery carries out restorations for Bishop Rainbow.


John Twentyman, Bishop Edward Rainbow’s gardener at Rose Castle, is invited to Brougham Castle to give advice on the gardens.


Bishop Thomas Smith restores part of the castle and adds Smith’s Tower.


Bishop William Nicolson records lists of plants that are sent to Rose Castle from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
He keeps detailed records of wild flowers he finds in Cumbria in his botanical notebook.


Jacobite Rising.
Flood water and high river levels prevent the Scots from raiding Rose Castle.


The son of Bishop Samuel Bradford writes, ‘We rise about 6, breakfast and study till 11, dress and to prayers in our chapel, walk in ye gardens…’


Wells filled in. Old fish ponds dug out and a cascade added.


Jacobite Rising. Rose Castle is the backdrop for the following story. After the capture of Carlisle by Prince Charles Edward Stuart, a party of Highlanders set out to attack Rose Castle. On arrival at the door, the attackers were informed that the Bishop’s daughter had just given birth. The Highlander leading the attack then removed the white cockade from his bonnet, pinned it to the baby’s clothing and declared the occupants of the castle to be under his protection.


Extracts from a letter from the Bishop’s servant about the desolate state of Rose Castle: ‘…Several windows being very Bad….Several Dores not fit to stand…the Rats are so very plenty…a ould painted oyle Cloth with very great hols in it…not a pot in the Kitchen but what was as Black with inside as with out…’


Bishop Richard Osbaldeston carries out repairs to the castle and puts coping on the garden walls. He also builds a new farm house.


Strickland’s Tower repaired by Bishop Charles Lyttelton.
Improvements around the property include ‘pulling down the old garden house on the bowling green.’


A payment of £33-18s-1d is made by Bishop Edmund Law ‘to labourers carrying away rubbish and removing a mount, filling up and levelling the ground in the Hopgarth and converting the same into meadow or tillage.’


The fish pond is cleaned out and the mud removed, the sides are lined with masonry, and the pond is enclosed with a palisade and iron-work.

1800 - 2019


Bishop Edward Vernon brings shrubs from Scotland and Keswick for planting the borders which were ‘raised in some parts by many cart loads of soil brought from the wood.’

1808 – 1827

Bishop Samuel Goodenough, member and first Treasurer of the Linnean Society of London, is a botanist and an enthusiastic gardener. Events are held in Rose Castle gardens, and the garden and surrounding land provide supplies for the castle.
The bishop writes, ‘no one here knows the difference between a thistle and a sunflower.’

1828 – 1856

Bishop Hugh Percy rebuilds much of the castle to its present state with the help of architect Thomas Rickman. Percy’s Tower is built. Strickland’s Tower is restored by architect Anthony Salvin.
Gardens and outbuildings are restored. Terraces and rose gardens are re-designed. It is thought Sir Joseph Paxton may have been involved, but so far, no written evidence has been found.


Seven oak trees are planted near Rose Bridge to mark the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. They are planted in the form of a hexagram, with the tree in the middle planted by Bishop Harvey Goodwin.

1905 – 1920

Bishop John William Diggle and Mrs Diggle carry out garden improvements.
Overgrown laurel hedges are removed and collections of ferns, clematis and rambling roses are planted.

The fish pond is cleaned out and an island and bridge added. Yew and beech hedges are planted.
The moat area on the west side is excavated and filled with water.
Borders, rose beds and glasshouses are tended by Mrs Diggle and Mr Mutch, the gardener.

1942 – 1945

The bishop vacates Rose Castle in 1942.
Rose Castle is used as a store by the RAF between 1942 and 1945.
The garden and grounds become neglected but the orchard produces an abundance of fruit. Nurses and administrative staff from Carlisle Infirmary are invited to visit the gardens in the summer to collect fruit that is then made into jams and preserves for the patients in the hospital.


Rose Castle is returned to the Church Commissioners who demolish the Victorian kitchen and construct a new south end. In the process, a small, walled, south-facing garden area is created.

1955 – 1966

The bishop returns to Rose Castle in 1955.
Bishop Thomas Bloomer restores the main lawn.
Mrs Marjorie Bloomer is a keen gardener and fond of growing roses and other flowers.
The outline of the Dutch garden is still discernible but it is considered too overgrown to restore and is returned to grass.
The vegetable garden is expanded and new fruit trees are planted, some of which are grafted from remaining old trees.
Lupins thrive on the east-facing terrace and create a spectacular display of blue and purple that is visible from the road across the fields near Rose Bridge.
The old oak tree that ‘the bishop took his hat off to’ is still standing. Mr Storey, the gardener, known for growing and showing onions, decorates Rose Castle potting shed with his ‘First Prize’ certificates. After his retirement, his successor in the garden is Paddy Dalton followed by Bill Meek.

1966 – 1972

A crop of Christmas trees is removed from the moat.
Henry Noblett is asked to visit the garden by Bishop Cyril Bulley to offer his advice on fruit trees that are dying. Honey fungus is found to be the problem.
A watercress bed is made.
It is recorded that the garden is kept neat, tidy and colourful.

1972 – 1988 Bishop William Nicolson’s 1702 botanical notebook is published in 1981 under the title of ‘A Seventeenth Century Flora of Cumbria’.
Gardener Bob McCrone maintains a productive vegetable garden that supplies the castle.
Gladioli and chrysanthemums grown at Rose Castle are used for decorating Carlisle Cathedral.
A flock of sheep in the moat is tended by the gardener.
Bishop David Halsey’s chauffeur, Alan Scott, is responsible for grass cutting. Using a cylinder mower, he cuts ornate initials of Charles and Diana in the main lawn at the time of the royal wedding.
Mrs Halsey recalls, ‘Rose had a typical northern garden, mainly lawn and a few flower beds. The lawns were useful for garden parties. Japonicas grew by the entrance gate from which we made jelly’.

1989 – 1995

On Bishop Ian Harland’s arrival at Rose Castle, chauffeur Alan Scott greets him at the front door with his bagpipes and ceremoniously pipes him into the castle.
Bishop Ian Harland and Mrs Sue Harland enhance the garden.
Shrub and climbing roses are planted.
A white herbaceous border is planted on the east-facing terrace.
In 1991, gardener Melanie Weston plants daffodils on the bank of the moat.
In 1994, gardener Ernie Peacock replants the border beside the gatehouse and plants the bog garden. He designs and plants Mrs Harland’s private little garden situated outside the kitchen door on the former site of the pigsty and chauffeur’s garage.
With the help of the gardener and the Hertherington family at the farm, Bishop Ian Harland keeps a flock of sheep that graze in the moat.
Mains electricity is extended to Strickland’s Tower.
Doorway to Kite’s Tower is reopened.
New gates are hung on the gatehouse.

1995 – 2003

An area to the south of the castle, overlooked by Gardener’s Cottage, is laid out in a formal fashion with small vegetable beds, box hedges and grass paths.
Roses, bought by Bishop Ian Harland, are planted in the shape of a cross with rectangular beds between. This area is named after the rose and is known as the Apothecary’s garden.
A soft fruit garden is planted.
The wooded area of the moat is cleared; fences removed, banks cleared of brambles, mature trees shaped and crown-lifted, young trees planted and a grass path mown through the woodland.
Wooden benches are made and placed in secluded or sunny spots.
Young fruit trees, including apples, pears, damsons, plums and greengages are planted in the orchard.
The white herbaceous border is replanted with white and purple-flowered perennials.
Jim Waugh, the gardener, is assisted by Bill Lightfoot who succeeds Alan Scott as the bishop’s chauffeur in 1997. Janet Queen and Paul Silvester work in the garden on a regular, voluntary basis.
A collection of rhododendrons is bought by Bishop Graham Dow and planted in the drive and moat woodland.
The old weeping willow by the gatehouse falls in storms.
In a field to the west of the castle, a small woodland, including three Sequoiadendron, is planted in 2002. Most species of trees are chosen to echo the mature specimens already growing in the drive and grounds.
Jim Waugh retires in 2003.

2003 – 2008

The post of full-time chauffeur is not renewed and the gardener, Janet Queen, is responsible for grass cutting and garden maintenance.
Paul Silvester and Jim Waugh continue to volunteer their help in the garden.


More young fruit trees are planted. Varieties of apples include ‘Ashmead’s Kernel’, ‘Lord Lambourne’, ‘Tydeman’s Early Worcester’, ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ and ‘Burgh Beauty’.
Also planted are ‘Victoria’ plum, ‘Opal’ plum and ‘Willingham’ greengage.
In March, Bishop Graham Dow holds his retirement service at Carlisle Cathedral. This is preceded by Bishop Ian Harland’s memorial service in Carlisle Cathedral in February at which James Scott, the son of bishop’s chauffeur, the late Alan Scott, plays a lament on the bagpipes.