Over looked by the mountains of the Lake Lake District to the west and the Pennines to the east, Penrith is an attractive red sandstone market town and regional centre. The area has been settled since neolithic times and the Romans recognised its strategic significance on the main north south and east west routes.
By the C9th, Penrith was the capital of Cumbria, a semi-independent state that was part of the Strathclyde region of Scotland, until it was taken by the Normans in 1092. It changed hands several times between England and Scotland and suffered many devastating raids by the Scots. Richard II granted Ralph Neville the Manor of Penrith in 1396. As Warden of the West March, he was responsible for the defence of the area against the Scots and built a castle here.
This later passed to Richard Duke of Gloucester, who later became Richard III. As Sheriff of Cumberland, he was responsible for defence against the Scots and also keeping rival local families under control.
The town retains much of its medieval layout, with wide streets where animals and agricultural produce were sold, along with small yards and alley ways. It has a good range of traditional shops along with the chains and a weekly market.
The Market Square is the heart of the town. The Clock Tower or Musgrave Monument was erected in 1861, as a memorial to Philip Musgrave who died aged 26 in Spain.
Cornmarket Runs from Market Square towards the Castle. The Market Hall Bandstand in Cornmarket was built 1983.
There are many attractive narrow alley ways off the main streets, like St Andrew’s Churchyard.
The Library building is here.
Castlegate is lined with C18th terraced houses.
The Parish Church of St Andrew’s in the centre of the town is a stunning Georgian building, although the tower is from an earlier church.
Penrith is a town to be explored on foot. The Explore Penrith self guided walking tour is a good place to start.