Lady Anne Clifford

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1936.

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'Lady Anne Clifford', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland, (London, 1936), pp. lv-lvii. British History Online [accessed 14 June 2024].

. "Lady Anne Clifford", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland, (London, 1936) lv-lvii. British History Online, accessed June 14, 2024,

. "Lady Anne Clifford", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland, (London, 1936). lv-lvii. British History Online. Web. 14 June 2024,


It is but seldom that any personage who is not of first-class historical importance has succeeded in impressing his or her personality upon a whole countryside or has transmitted, however superficially, a personal tradition through succeeding generations of a rural population. This is, however, the case with the Lady Anne Clifford, and the impress of her character and actions is still so clearly outlined in the buildings of northern Westmorland that it seemed desirable to give here some connected account of her life and works. (fn. 1)

As the last member of the great house of Clifford which for centuries had been amongst the great landowners of the north, she appears to have been from her earliest youth imbued with all the traditions of her family and that pride of race for which a long descent from a noble mediæval stock afforded a sufficient justification. She had a passion for the pomp of her family heraldry and made a constant practice in her diary of referring to even the minor doings of her ancestors, who numbered amongst them such dissimilar figures as the 'butcher' lord who fell at Towton and the 'shepherd' lord who spent his youth among the lakeland fells. Her abiding love for Westmorland seems to have been acquired when her much loved and widowed mother spent the declining years of her life on the lands of her jointure at Appleby and Brougham.

Lady Anne Clifford was the daughter and heiress of George, third Earl of Cumberland; she was born in 1590 and married successively Richard, third Earl of Dorset, and Philip, fourth Earl of Pembroke. In spite of frequent quarrels over the disposal of her inheritance her first marriage was hardly so unhappy as her second marriage with the neurotic and often violent Philip Herbert, which was an inevitable failure. The Herbert alliance served, however, this purpose—that the parliamentarian politics of her second husband tended to preserve the integrity of her inheritance when her own royalist leanings might have put it in jeopardy.

Her great lands in the north had by the will of her father to pass through the male Clifford line before reverting to herself; it was thus not until after the deaths of her uncle and cousin the fourth and fifth Earls of Cumberland without male heirs, that, in 1643, she entered into her inheritance. Even then it was not for another six years (1649) that she at length found it possible to move from London and take up her residence in the north. From that date till her death in 1676 she never again left her northern estates and the picture of the great lady, hereditary Sheriffess of Westmorland, residing in one or other of her castles, and gathering around her a little court becomes increasingly distinct. Her doings from year to year are preserved in her diary and her thoughts during the last few months of her life are recorded from day to day in her day-book.

The picture is at once attractive and intimate and displays, in all its phases, a character which combined a masculine resolution with a very feminine affection for her family and dependents; a high hearted lady, persisting in her course of action regardless of its effects on her health or even its danger to life itself, receiving also rounds of visits from her daughters and grandchildren and giving little gifts to her servants and neighbours. Her love of the country was a ruling passion and there survives even a word-picture of the great lady in her country clothes —" her dress, not disliked by any, was yet imitated by none," says Bishop Rainbow.

Apart from her Yorkshire estates at Skipton and Barden the Lady Anne's Westmorland property lay largely in the Vale of Eden, and Appleby, Brougham, Brough and Pendragon are intimately associated with her life in the north. Within a very short time of her arrival she initiated a series of works of repair at all these places, which had either become dilapidated during the Civil War or had stood ruined for a longer period. It appears to have been her desire to live in all things after the manner of her ancestors and this led her to undertake the repair and reconditioning of a series of mediæval castles at a time when all her contemporaries were building in the purely domestic styles of the Commonwealth and the Restoration. The repairs at Appleby were begun in 1651 and included the reflooring and roofing of the Keep called 'Cæsar's Tower,' which had stood derelict since 1569; the other buildings were largely reconstructed at the end of the 17th century, but the great stables erected by her are still standing. At Brougham Castle, which had been dismantled during the Civil War, the Lady Anne began work immediately after her arrival in the north, and the Castle was ready for occupation in 1651–2. Many references to this castle are to be found in her diary and it is possible to locate, from this source, the name and purpose of all the chief apartments. The room in which she died was certainly that on the second floor above the inner Gatehouse. The Keep here bore the name of the 'Pagan Tower.' Brough Castle had stood in complete ruin since it had been accidentally burned in 1521. The Lady Anne began its restoration in 1649 and the work was so far advanced that she was able to lie there in September of the next year, occupying a room in the Keep called the 'Roman Tower.' The great hall was restored as a court-house, while Clifford's Tower seems subsequently to have been used as her private apartments. Pendragon Castle, an isolated tower, was repaired by her in 1660 after having lain waste since 1541. She likewise carried out extensive works at Skipton Castle and repaired the fortified house at Barden Tower, both in Yorkshire. In all of these places there still survive more or less considerable remains of her constructions and it was her custom to place in a prominent position on each a large inscribed panel giving particulars of the building and its repair. The inscription from Brougham is now at Appleby but that at Barden Tower is still in situ. The style adopted in these works is definitely archaistic and is almost indistinguishable from that used in Tudor times. The Lady Anne seems to have ordered and superintended much of the work herself, but her steward, Gabriel Vincent, is described on his tomb-stone at Brough as "chief director of her building in the north"; he died in the 'Roman Tower' at Brough in 1666.

Apart from restoring her own residences the Lady Anne spent liberally in the restoration and rebuilding of churches on her property. The two churches at Appleby, St. Lawrence and Bongate, were very extensively restored by her, the latter in 1658–9 and the former in 1665. St. Lawrence already contained the tomb of her mother and she made a vault and monument for herself in the north chapel. Three other churches she seems to have entirely re-built, the parish church of Brougham (or Ninekirks) in 1660, the chapel of St. Wilfrid by Brougham Hall in 1658 and the chapel of Mallerstang in 1663. The last-named has one of her inscription-panels recording that it had "layne ruinous and decayed some 50 or 60 years." Her ecclesiastical work is of the semi-Gothic type which was usual in the earlier 17th-century church-building and Brougham church retains many of its contemporary fittings. Most of these buildings have her initials and a date on some part of them.

One other building owes its origin to her generosity—the hospital or almshouse of St. Anne at Appleby founded in 1651–2 for 12 poor women. Though much altered the building still survives. She also "more perfectly finished" her mother's hospital at Beamsley (Yorks), a fact recorded on the tablet set up by her on the curious circular structure of the hospital.

The most unusual of the Lady Anne's memorials is the Countess's Pillar set up by the highway about a quarter of a mile from Brougham Castle. The inscription states that it was erected in 1654 to commemorate the last parting between Anne and her mother in 1616 and that she had left an annuity for the poor to be distributed on the stone table hard by.

The Westmorland memorials of the Countess are not confined to her own personal works. Her numerous dependants and servants are connected with many of the buildings in the neighbourhood. On his retirement in 1668 her secretary, George Sedgwick, with her assistance, bought the house of Collinfield, near Kendal, and lived there till his death in 1685. The house still contains woodwork with his initials and a lock given him by his mistress. Thomas Gabetis, whose tomb-stone is in Brough church, was deputy sheriff of the county for the Lady Anne and survived until 1694. The tomb of her surveyor Gabriel Vincent has already been referred to.

Amongst the local gentry, those most closely connected with the Countess were her neighbours Sir John Lowther of Lowther and Lancelot Machell of Crackenthorpe.

Her habit of giving small gifts to her friends and acquaintances is curiously exemplified in the survival of a number of door-locks, made for her by George Dent of Appleby at a cost of £1 each and bearing her initials A.P. One was given to George Sedgwick and is still at Collinfield; a second, dated 1670, is at Great Asby rectory. Others remain at Rose Castle, Dalemain and Dacre Church. Portraits and medals were also distributed to her friends.

The Countess's monument still stands in her chapel at St. Lawrence Appleby, near that of her mother. Its main motive is the display of Clifford heraldry and alliances and it is thus a fitting memorial of one who was the last of a great family.


  • 1. See The Lady Anne Clifford, by Dr. G. C. Williamson.