page 4

The History of Carlisle

The Covered Market








In 1561 Carlisle received a set of bye-laws dealing with the security of the city and the appalling state of its sanitary arrangements : these were written down in the 'Dormont Book' part of which survives in the Old Town Hall. Around this time also, horse-racing began in the area, and two of the oldest horse-race prizes in the world - the 'Carlisle Bells' - date from this time.

In 1568 Mary Queen of Scots fled to England and was imprisoned in the Castle for six weeks while her cousin Elizabeth considered what to do about this threat, as she suspected, to her position. The rest is history.

1597 saw the Treaty of Carlisle between England and Scotland, designed to put an end to Border squabbles, in which it was only partially effective. But it also addressed the poverty of the citizens who had suffered so much from the ravages of the raiders and indeed from centuries of warfare and destruction.

Elizabeth died in 1603 and was succeeded by James VI of Scotland ( and I of England ) the son of Mary Queen of Scots. James had long been familiar with Border troubles, but as King of Scotland had been as ineffective as, though possibly more conscientious than, his cousin Elizabeth in attempting to impose order on the Riding names, (local bandits). He put the Border under the supervision of a Royal Commission which not surprisingly reported that if it were not for the activities of a relatively few families Carlisle and the lands around it would be more peaceful. As a result James ordered the exile of a number of Border clans to Ireland and elsewhere.

Charles I, son of James, gave Carlisle a new Charter in 1637. In 1642 the English Civil War broke out and Carlisle declared its loyalty to the Crown. Retribution followed in 1644, when General Lesley with a Scots army siding with the Parliamentarians laid siege to the city. The citizens held out for eight months against Lesley's destruction by fire and cannon of their defences, homes and livestock, but starvation after their diet of horsemeat, dogs and rats ran out drove them to surrender.

Though retaken by the Royalists in 1648, the city was recaptured by Parliament later the same year. By this time the city was devastated, its cathedral, walls and houses in ruins, and the end of the war in 1648 brought a merciful few years for recovery.





Copyright EDGE 1997