Pennine Heritage Archive


I spent an afternoon up at the Pennine heritage archive about a week ago, looking through the auction catalogues for Castle Carr from 1874 and 1879.


1874-12It was so strange looking at the descriptions of it as a potential stately residence. The plans show the planting schemes, and the potential for tennis courts, croquet lawns and a ‘Hydropathic Establishment’. Water cures were all the fashion.


1874-7In reality I have learned that no one could bring themselves to live there. The younger son of Joseph Priestly Edwards (he and his eldest son having been killed in a train accident in 1868, before the building was complete) lived there for a year before trying to sell it on. The estate was too remote. It was plagued by midges. There was bad feeling between the estate and the local villages over a blocked right of way that was never resolved.

The reservoirs, built at the same time as the castle, had covered over uninvestigated mounds – possibly ancient burial mounds. Bad luck seemed to befall anyone who owned it. The younger son of the Laycock family, who bought it from Edwards, died unexpectedly while visiting another stately home. It was thought to have been lead poisoning from paint fumes in a newly decorated room.

a-man-o-the-moor‘A Man of the Moors’, a novel by Halliwell Sutcliffe, published in 1897,  is set in and around Luddenden Dean. Frender’s Folly entirely fits the description of Castle Carr.

Luke Frender ‘Being a man of some imagination, and anxious to to use his money in ways that had not occurred to his neighbours, he built himself a in the very heart of the moors – not an ordinary square built mansion with stuccoed walls, but a faithful imitation of the medieval. There was a spacious courtyard on the north side, with a fountain guarded by four great stone dogs. Loop-holes grin from the castle walls, and at one corner the steps of an unbuilt tower climb up to the second floor windows. The windows are long, narrow, deep browed; and here and there crumbling warts of masonry are tacked onto the walls. As it stands today, blacked by fifty years of the wind and rain, that is no childs play in the heart of Cranshaw Moor, Castle Frender – better known to the neighbourhood as Frender’s Folly – has a certain dignity of it’s own…….It’s walls are thick and well knit; it’s situation is harsh to the verge or terror; and the smooth lawns, the sweeping circle of carriage drive, the banked masses of rhododendron that climb the valley sides, serve only to accentuate and unshorn roughness that hems them in.

1874-13Given that, in 1894, Castle Carr was being auctioned as some stately pleasure palace, the description in the novel would suggest that it already had something of a reputation:

Luke Fender gambled away his money, his credit – his wife, too, some say – within its walls: and shot himself in the big room overlooking the courtyard, which, half in mockery, he had built to serve as a private chapel. The friend who had robbed him of money and wife alike, lived on at the castle and took to hard drinking, and died in raving delerium; his son, succeeding to the property, married one of his own housemaids, realized in a very brief time that he, too, had sold his honour to the devil, and avenged Luke Fender’s end, in a fashion, by hanging himself to a beam in the same private chapel overlooking the great gateway and the courtyard. [..] It’s history had become common talk throughout the countryside; prospective buyers shunned alike the grimness of its surroundings and the uncanny trend of its history’

‘A Man of the Moor’ – Halliwell Sutcliffe. 1897

Back to reality! After the Laycocks,  the Leppington family from Newcastle purchased the estate, though they never lived in it. The Murgatroyd family bought it in 1894. They owned a lot of property and land locally, and lived in Broadfold Hall in Luddenden. The estate remained with them until it was demolished in 1962.

ronald murgatroyds 21st

Virginia Murgatroyd, pictured here holding the large bouquet, recorded her memories of the castle in an interview in 2011. The picture shows her son’s 21st birthday party:  the last formal function to be held at the castle. There were more drawings of the interior in the auction catalogue.


1874-15She described how the swords , shown in the top of the balustrade in the image on the right, could be drawn out and used for play fighting on the stairs!

Images with kind permission from Pennine Horizons digital archive.

This is my second painting of the Castle Carr Estate. It’s big. As big as my desk will allow. I’ve tried to make it lonely and foreboding. The stone Talbot hounds and the ornamental stonework have been taken from inside the castle, but they make a ominous barrier between the viewer and the castle grounds.

CC2smallI remembered this image from one of my favourite childhood books when i was painting it: Errol Le Cain’s Thorn Rose. The horror of the impaled princes on the brambles of Sleeping Beauty’s castle!

thorn rose 1


2 Responses to “Pennine Heritage Archive

  • wonderful work Kate! Preserving the heritage and displaying the incredible work who actually created this amazing ‘castle’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *