Appleby-in-Westmorland is a historic market town located at the heart of the Eden Valley, in the county of Cumbria. Formally the county town of ancient Westmorland, Appleby has an attractive main thoroughfare, a fine Moot Hall and a surviving Norman Castle.
Now by-passed by the A66, old Appleby is set on a high sandstone bluff overlooking a ford on one side of the wide River Eden. This was the original site of the 10th-c village of Bongate, where Danish bondsmen once lived. The new town area, added in the early 12th-c by the Normans, is nestled in a loop of the river below it.
The town was granted its market charter in 1174 by King Henry II. The main street of Boroughgate has several attractive old houses, mainly Georgian in the upper part, including a 16th-c Moot Hall (currently an information centre).
The old Norman castle dominates the town from the south. The curtain walls, ancient keep and Great Hall still stand. Although mostly destroyed by Cromwell in the civil war, it was later fully restored in 1653 by Lady Anne of the Clifford family. It is now one very few remaining fortresses in Britain with an intact Norman keep. Although privately owned and run as a hotel and events venue prebooked tours of the castle can still be taken throughout the summer. The grounds also are host a variety of special events, such as open-air theatre and battle re-enactments during the summer months. See website for further details.
Lady Anne Clifford became an important figure in the history of this part of Westmorland and rebuilt many her family's castles at several locations, as well as restoring churches in these places. She also built bridges and endowed almshouses, including St Anne's Hospital on Boroughgate, which consists of a group of neat little almshouses and a chapel, all set around a cobbled square.
Lady Anne also restored the town's Norman Church of St Lawrence, which had been destroyed by Scottish marauders in 1388. The church is now home to Britain's oldest organ, built in the 1500s. The nave contains her black marble tomb.
Nestled at the foot of the Pennines, Appleby is an ideal centre for exploring the local area. Pleasant riverside walks can be enjoyed along the Eden. Popular country walks include that to High Cup Nick, to the north east.
A colourful Gypsy and Horse Fair is held on the outskirts of the town in June, when Romany Gypsies arrive from all over the UK, in traditional horse-drawn caravans and other colourful vehicles.