The Hall has two fortified Pele towers, the southeast tower is dated to 1475.
The intervening range has the date 1590 over the entrance door in the courtyard and the initials and coat of arms of Henry Blencowe. Above are the words vivere mori, mori vitae (a cryptic Latin tag that can be roughly translated as live to die, dying is living).
This is held to relate to the words written by Lady Jane Grey to her sister on the night of her execution on February 12, 1554: Live still to die, that you may by death purchase eternal life.
The Blencowes were related to Lady Jane Grey’s husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, who was put to death alongside her at the Tower of London.
Both towers are now little more than shells. The southwest tower has a savage gash running from top to bottom of the kind that Cromwell and Richelieu left when they slighted castles held by their enemies, ensuring that they could never be used again.
This is a strong possibility at Blencowe as Parliamentary forces under General Lambert took Penrith in 1648 and detachments were sent out to take Rose and Greystoke Castles, which were both burnt. As Blencowe was on the way from Greystoke to Rose, and traces of artillery platforms have been found in the fields near by, there is every chance that Cromwellians savaged it.
Adam de Blencowe so distinguished himself serving under the Black Prince, probably at the Battle of Poitiers, that he was granted his own coat of arms by the Lord of neighbouring Greystoke, whom he had accompanied to France.
Henry Blencowe was a man of local standing. He had married Grace, the sister of Sir Richard Sandford of Howgill Castle, across the border in Westmoreland. From James I he received a knighthood, serving twice as High Sheriff of Cumberland. To him is also attributed the southwest tower of 1620.
The last of the Blencowes, Henry Prescot Blencowe, sold the property in 1802 to the 11th Duke of Norfolk who had earlier remodelled Greystoke Castle. For nearly two centuries it continued as a tenant farm until sold in 1988.
A spectacular dark glazed window over the huge crack in the southwesth tower is the centrepiece of the unique renovation project which has been undertaken by Charles and Christine Rowley, of Hampstead, London, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Blencowe Hall is scheduled by English Heritage as a building of architectural and historical interest, listed Grade I. The former Chapel (at the rear) is listed Grade II.
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