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Things to do in Penrith, Cumbria

Awaiting photographs of Penrith

Penrith is a busy market town, lying in the lovely Eden Valley, to the north east of the Lake District and a few miles north of Lake Ullswater. Penrith makes the perfect base from which to explore the Eden Valley, the northern lakes and the north Pennines.

Penrith is dominated by Beacon Fell, a rich red sandstone outcrop. The red sandstone was used for many of the buildings in the town and is a characteristic of Penrith, in contrast to the grey stone of many of the towns and villages of southern Lakeland.

The Romans first built the road through Penrith and the town was occupied in turn, by Norsmen and Angles. In the 9th and 10th centuries Penrith was the capital of Cumbria, a semi-independent state in the Kingdom of Strathclyde. The beacon at the top of the fell and the now ruined sandstone castle testify to centuries of border raids. The castle was built in 1397-9, as a defence against the Scots and had various owners, among whom were the Earl of Warwick, the 'King-Maker' and the Duke of Gloucester who later became Richard III.

The Church of St. Andrew in the town centre, was built on a site thought to have been a place of worship for over 1,500 years. First built in the 12th century, it was partially restored in the 18th century. The tower with 6 foot thick walls, was built by the Neville family and bears the arms of the Earls of Warwick.

There are several buildings of historical interest in the town: Penrith Museum is housed in a listed building, once a 17th century schoolhouse, with interesting exhibits covering local history.

The Town Hall, once two houses, was built in the late 18th century and designed by Robert Adam. One was the home of John Wordsworth, brother of William.

The Gloucester Arms Hotel can claim to be one of the oldest inns in the country, dating from 1477. It is thought to have been the residence of Richard III, and bears his coat of arms.

Penrith was the home town of Wordsworth's parents, William with his sister Dorothy and Mary Hutchinson his future wife, all attended infant school in the town between 1776 and 1777. William wrote about Penrith Beacon in a powerful passage in 'The Prelude'.

Today Penrith is the shopping town at the hub of the Eden valley. At its most colourful on market day, which is a Tuesday, don't miss sampling the local specialities, the famous Penrith Toffee and Fudge.

Tourist Information

Robinson's School
CA11 2NW
Tel: +44 (0) 1768 86 530

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