Millom Castle evolved from a humble fortified manor into a substantial fortification. The castle was attacked by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War and partially demolished although the Great Tower was later repaired and today still serves as a private residence.
Prior to the Norman invasion of 1066, Millom was owned by Tostig Godwinson. He was formerly the Earl of Northumbria but had been overthrown and he then rebelled against his brother, Harold II. Tostig was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066) and his lands had not been re-allocated before the Anglo-Saxon regime fell following the defeat at the Battle of Hastings (1066). Thereafter it was taken into Crown ownership and was still held by the King at the time of the Domesday Book (1086). Millom then disappears from the historical record until 1134 when a charter stated it was owned by Godard de Boyvill. It passed through marriage to the Hudleston family in 1240. The precise nature of any fortification at Millon throughout this period is unclear but it is probable that there was some form of secure residence. Certainly a mere surrounded two sides of the structure, providing both defensive and economic functions, and it is probable the rest of the site was enclosed by a moat. Internally a hall was built no later than the twelfth century and this was probably surrounded by a timber palisade.
In a charter dated 24 August 1335 the then owner, John Hudleston, was granted permission to crenellate (fortify) his manor by Edward III. It is likely work started several years before this - the area had been raided by Scottish forces in 1322 as Robert the Bruce attempted to force a settlement to the First War of Scottish Independence. At Millom the area occupied by the castle was significantly enhanced. The former Great Hall was converted into a kitchen and a new Solar Tower was built to serve the administrative and domestic functions. The Great Tower, which today still dominates the site and remains the inhabited part of the castle, was added in the late sixteenth century presumably to enhance the accommodation whilst also ensuring a credible defence against Border Reivers.
During the Civil War the castle was attacked by Parliamentary forces in 1644 and thereafter partly demolished. Repairs were made in 1670 but the castle was never restored to its former glory and significant parts - including the Solar Tower and kitchen range - fell into ruin. Today the remains are part of a farm and not open to the public.
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Millom Castle remains a private residence with no public access. It is however possible to view the exterior of the castle from public rights of way and there is an information panel within the grounds of the adjacent twelfth century Holy Trinity church.
Great Tower. View of the castle from the north-west. The Great Tower is still in use as a residence. The wall to the left was the site of the original Hall.
Millom Castle Layout. The original castle consisted of a Hall in the north-west corner of the later castle. This was converted into a Kitchen circa-1335 and a new Solar Tower built. A new Great Tower was added around 1600.
Millom Castle can be found just off the A5093 to the north of Millom. The castle is not sign-posted but the structure, which is surrounded by farm buildings, can be seen from the main road. There is a small parking area and a public right of way sign pointing to Holy Trinity Church which also passes the castle.