More Castle Carr

Excuse the long silence. I had to put the project to bed for a while while I finished a body of new work for an exhibition called ‘Water & Light’ at Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge. The exhibition went really well, and I’ve met some lovely people. But I have been so excited about getting back to this project.

I have been working on two new paintings these last few weeks; both of Castle Carr. This one was inspired by our family outing to the water gardens in July last year.


The gardens are all light playing on the water – it was a sunny day and that is how the water gardens appeared. The ruined castle was more ominous, and it appears, in this painting, to be looming above. A slightly malevolent presence!

Up at The Birchcliffe centre, a group or archivists have been digitizing collections of photographs. After years of work this incredible archive went live a few months ago and I have spent hours and hours looking at old photographs of Calderdale. I found some interior shots of Castle Carr.

interior row

(These images have been borrowed with kind permission from the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive)

I found these particularly interesting because I can now see where some of those stones in the overgrown ruins have come from. I assumed that it was all exterior stone. Now I suspect that they were pieces of mantle piece, and pieces of the stone balustrade from the main staircase. I’ve been using these details in the paintings.


I met a lovely lady via Facebook who has helped me with my research.  The Castle was built by Joseph Priestley Edwards, though he and his eldest son died in a railway accident before it was completed. The Castle was briefly inhabited by the younger son before going to auction in 1879. It failed to sell at auction but was somehow sold and sold again before being bought by the Murgatroyd family in 1895. It was, according to my source, bought for the water rights, so the house was rarely inhabited and was left decay. The location was so secluded that the castle was used for munitions storage during WW1. It was in dilapidated state at that time, though it was made good for a last grand party in 1932: Ronald Murgatroyd’s 21st Birthday (Thank you David Cant for this one!):

ronald murgatroyds 21st

This is the other painting – a really big one this time, recreating a front view. It seems to be the most impressive view of the castle, but i have only found one very low resolution jpeg to work from. From an aerial shot I have in an old Halifax Courier publication, and from photos of other angles, I’ve been filling in the gaps.


5 Responses to “More Castle Carr

  • Your paintings are so beautiful, I’m always in awe of them on Facebook. I so admire artists like yourself with a truly distinct and original style!

  • Hi, I organise the annual Castle Carr walk and fountain, taking place this year on the 5th July -the photos you have found are fabulous, I try to pull together some local history on the house-these pictures would make a great addition to this years leaflet.
    I have a two page document on the house if you wish me to send it across. Not much different to what you already know but happy to send if you wish

    • That would be great Sherri. I’d love to see what you have on the place. The photos are all borrowed from the Pennine Heritage Archive up at the Birchcliffe centre. You’d need to get their permission to reproduce them; they’ve been incredibly helpful for me!

  • I love the annual walk to Castle Carr, but it’s not the same since they stopped people going onto the stone steps 🙁 Did you know that pieces of the interior were incorporated into the Cat I’Well pub at the other end of the track leading to the estate? Lots of photographs there too. Also, that there used to be a huge stone fountain in the courtyard, supported by two hunting dogs. That fountain is now in the courtyard of a hotel in Leeds (having had a foray to London first). As someone commented elsewhere on your blog – the remnants of lost houses can be scattered far and wide. Looking forward to the exhibition, thank you!

  • Castle Carr was a regular destination for me as a child on walks from Ogden. Had to avoid officious water workers who’d send you on your way. Once saw young woman in Victorian garb drifting among the rhododendrons.

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