Egremont predates the Norman conquest of England. The Danes first established a Fort at the site of Egremont castle around the end of the first millennium.
After the Norman Conquest Ranulph de Briquessart (Ranulph le Meschines) was given a large part of Cumberland and Westmorland by Rufus William II, on becoming the Earl of Chester his estates were returned to the Crown. Around 1120 Henry I gave the Barony of Copeland to Ranulph’s brother William le Meschines who made his home at Egremont and begun to build the castle. The castle took approximately 150 years to complete. Over time the Barony was inherited by Ranulph le Meschines (William’s son).
Having no male heir the Barony passed to his sister Alice who married William Fitzduncan, they had a child who after his untimely death became known as “the Boy of Egremont”, again with no living male heir William Fitzduncan’s estates passed to his three daughters Annabel, Cecily and Alice.
The estates passed down to Annabel’s son Richard de Lucy. Richard’s daughters both married into the de Multon family, Alice (now called de Morville) married Alan de Multon and Annabel (now called de Morville) married Lambert de Multon. Annabel and Lambert de Multon inherited the Barony of Copeland and again the castle had a Lord in residence. Richard de Lucy sued his relatives for these estates and obtained his inheritance in 1200.
Around 1205 the tale of Grunwilda was told she was the wife of Richard de Lucy and was killed by a wolf on a hunting trip, this tale is recounted in the poem “The Woeful Chase”. Again leaving no male heir Richard dies and the superstition began that no male heir should inherit Egremont castle because of the conduct of the fore fathers. Egremont was granted its royal charter by Henry III in 1267.
In about 1300 the town was established much as it is seen today, surrounded by agricultural lands. In 1322 Robert Bruce attacked the town with a huge death toll. For the next 100 years or so an uneasy peace followed and the castle fell into ruins.
1565 saw the building of a stone Brygge over the river Ehen to access the town which was smaller now due to constant Scottish raids. For another 100 years the town is quiet, until new stone building appear on the Main Street, these were likely built with stone from the castle. In 1683 Edward Benn and his heirs was given land with the proviso that they rebuild the stone bridge and maintain it for ever.
1748 saw another bridge was built at Briscoe Mill at a cost of Ł28-15-0d paid for by John Pearson a local Hatter. Soon Egremont began to service the Port of Whitehaven and in 1830 Iron Ore was mined over several sites.
Over the next 60 years new Schools, Churches and the Town Hall were built. New housing estates were also built to accommodate the growing town with many old parts of the town being demolished in 1968. In 1964 Wyndham School was built, it was the first Comprehensive School to be built in the British Isles.1970 saw a large increase in workers moving into the town to work on the new nuclear site.
1990 saw the opening of the Egremont By-pass, at this time Florence Mine was the only remaining working mine and in the year 2004 we saw the running down of the nuclear industry and the growth of the nuclear decommissioning industry.
Egremont still has a Lord, he is John Max Scawen Wyndham Baron of Egremont and Baron of Leconfield, he lives in the family home of Petworth in West Sussex.
With its rich heritage of cultural and industrial life Egremont is a wonderful place to visit, live and work.