The City of

Historic Buildings

Visitor Attractions
Villages and

Prehistoric Sites

Map & satellite


OS Grid ref:- SD584684

The highly attractive Lancashire village of Hornby is situated around 8 miles north-east of Lancaster and lies near to the confluence of River Wenning and the River Lune. The name derives from the from the Old Norse personal name Horni ‘horn’ and býr meaning a farm or settlement.

The village with its castle, church and honey coloured cottages lining the main street has a long history. The village itself grew up around an ancient packhorse route leading towards Slaidburn.

A mile to the north of the village, directly above the medieval Loyne Bridge which crosses the River Lune, are the earthwork remains of Castle Stede, a motte-and-bailey castle dating from the eleventh or twelfth century.

The best preserved example of a motte and bailey in Lancashire, the remains of Castle Stede are believed to date from the thirteenth century, and occupy the site of an iron age hill fort. They consist of a large motte, measuring 15 metres high, which is surrounded by a deep ditch with a bailey on the west side. The castle was one of a line of such motte and bailey castles established along the River Lune between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, the others being at Whittington, Arkholme, Melling, Halton and Kirkby Lonsdale.

St Margaret's Church, with its curious octagonal tower, stands on the village's main street, a church has occupied the site since 1338. The oldest part of the present church, the tower, which was built in 1514 by Sir Edward Stanley, Lord Mounteagle, in consequence, as tradition states, of a vow made at the Battle of Flodden. The interior contains a monument to Dr Lingard, the Roman Catholic priest from St Mary's Church, Hornby, who died in 1851. There are also two fragments of Anglo-Saxon crosses. An Anglo-Saxon cross base stands in the churchyard.

Hornby Castle

Hornby Castle, once painted by Turner, is an imposing Gothic structure which dominates the landscape from its commanding position above the River Wenning.

The castle was originally built by Roger de Montbegon as a replacement for Castle Stede. It later passed to the Harringtons and Stanley families. The polygonal tower dates from the sixteenth century, and was probably built by Sir Edward Stanley, 1st Baron Monteagle.

His son, the second Baron Monteagle, took part in suppressing the Pilgrimage of Grace, a northern rebellion in response to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. His grandaughter, Elizabeth Stanley married Edward Parker, 12th Baron Morley. Their son William, the fourth Baron Monteagle went down in history as the peer who was forewarned the authorities about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, after receiving a letter from Sir Francis Tresham, his brother-in-law, telling him not to take his seat in the House of Lords..

His son Henry Parker supported the Royalist cause at the outbreak of the Civil War resulting in his estates later being forfeit and sold. The castle was captured during the Civil War by Colonel Assheton, the leader of the Parliamentary forces in North Lancashire and later occupied in 1648 by the Duke of Hamilton. The family later recovered the castle but, deeply in debt, was forced sell it to Robert Brudenell, 2nd Earl of Cardigan in 1663.

It was again sold in 1713 to the infamous Colonel Charteris. His daughter Janet married James Wemyss, 5th Earl of Wemyss, during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 part of Lord Elcho's cavalry spent the night here on their march to Derby. The castle passed to Wemyss' second son Francis, who remodelled the building in about 1720. After passing through several owners it became the property of Pudsey Dawson, High Sheriff of Lancashire for 1845. He commissioned the Lancaster architects Sharpe and Paley to rebuild much of the structure between 1847 and 1850. There were further alterations and additions by Paley and Austin in 1881 and 1889-91.

The Gardens are open to the public for special events during the year. Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens and river walk and visit the walled garden nursery to view the display borders. Plants are available for sale.

Nearby Places of Interest

Lancaster Castle founded in the tenth century

Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, Lancaster was commissioned by James Williamson, Baron Ashton as a tribute to his second wife, Jenny and was built between 1907 and 1909.

Butterfly House, Lancaster

Back to Villages