Edmond Castle, Hayton, Cumberland
Close to Hayton, in Cumberland, Edmond Castle was the original seat of the Grahams of Edmond Castle.
Most likely, Edmond Castle was originally a peel (pele) tower, the usual kind of defensive tower built on the Anglo-Scottish border. According to tradition, it was named after Edmond Graham, its builder, which sounds plausible. It is first mentioned in 1603 in the household accounts of Lord William Howard (published by the Surtees Society), who paid a small sum to Andrew Graham of Edmond Castle. There seems also to have been another reference in a contemporary account, in which Lord William Howard required William Grame, tenement at Emount Castle, to pay 8 shillings and 2 capons .
There was clearly quite a community at Edmond Castle in the 1600s and 1700s, not just a single house. THB Graham  says that towards the close of the eighteenth century, there were four family houses at Edmond Castle, in addition to the house where the Grahams of Edmond Castle live. These were Dixons (where the Dixons lived), Willie's House (long occupied by William Graham), Charley Tom's (belonging to Thomas Graham but not the Graham of Edmond Castle one), and Reed's. Very confusing. There were Grahams behind every bush.
The Hayton parish register as transcribed by THB Graham  has the earliest legible burial as that of James Graham of Edmond Castle (1628) the earliest baptism that of Christopher, son of John Nixon of Edmond Castle (1650), followed by a host of other Grahams and Dixons (all of Edmond Castle), with an odd name or two thrown in elsewhere. Clearly, in the 1600s there were multiple families of Grahams at Edmond Castle, and at least two Dixon families. THB Graham  believed that Edmond Castle actually formed a separate township of the parish of Hayton.
The Edmund Castle that exists today (or did, until it was chopped to pieces by developers in 2005 or so) was built by Thomas Henry Graham (1793-1881; my GGGG Uncle) who married Mary Carnegie in 1829. The building was designed by Sir Robert Smirke between 1824 and 1829. On the external walls of one of the wings is a plaque (shown at the left) to commemorate that. You can see the Graham escallops on the left, and the Carnegie eagle on the right. Above the shield it reads TH 1829 MG(C?). Funnily, the escallops are not in chief, as would be usual for a Graham, but diagonally. A bookplate survives from TH Graham's father (another Thomas Graham, who married Elizabeth Davenport, quite a well-known author in her day) in which the Graham escallops are also in bend, with the Davenport arms on the right. Strange.
In 1937 THB Graham (the author of the articles in Trans. CWAAS) died, and his son Eric inherited. I visited cousin Eric (well, first cousin twice removed) in London a couple of times when I was younger. He was a charming man, and very kind to me. However, he wasn't too keen on Edmond Castle and sold it, with the entire estate and associated cottages. For 38,500 pounds according to the conveyancing deed. They dickered over the deposit. Eric wanted 3,850, the buyers wanted to pay 500, and they settled on 1,000. Nothing much changes, huh?
The new owners, Henry Studholme Cartmell and Stanley Walton then allowed the Castle to be used as a home for Czech refugees, starting around the 21st of June, 1940. (One refugee was Hedy Fromings, and I even found a photo album of a bunch of young Czechs at the Castle). Ruth Smithson sent me copies of some of the letters of complaint written about the refugees, who, apparently, left gates open (horror! Sometimes twice a day!), interfered with rabbit traps (Oh No!), used Ruddick's spring cart and broke a shaft (unimaginable disaster!), and generally trespassed where they weren't supposed to. It's a delightful set of letters.
When the Czech refugees left, the Castle was used as a home for delinquent boys, but I don't know much about that period. I do know that, during the latter stagesof the war, my grandfather (Alfred Sneyd, or Pop) visited Edmond Castle when it was a Borstal, and gave a talk to the boys. He was in the New Zealand Navy. Presumably he was sent by my grandmother, who was the Graham descendant and never let anyone forget it. Especially not her husband.
The Castle was later turned into a hotel, but I don't know when. I visited, took some photographs, but they are not on my computer yet. With luck, they will be soon.
In 2005, Edmond Castle was sold again, broken up by developer David Dyke and sold. Below I've copied the For Sale notice in the Times Online. If I had had the money, I would have bought it. I wasn't even close.
I have visited Edmond Castle twice. Once in 1990, when it was called Hayton Castle Hotel and was, not surprisingly, a hotel.Then again in August, 2005, when the builders were there to do Dyke's dirty work. A terrible shame. The house was being broken up and sold off in pieces; a bit here, a bit there, a two-bedroom apartment in this bit, a four-bedroom apartment in this bit. Walls were being built to break the garden up and I just hate to think of the damage being done inside. Soon there'll be essentially nothing left of the grand old house it used to be. Ah well. Nothing I can do about it. As Dad said, if you had the money you'd buy it, but then you might have to live there and you wouldn't want that. Imagine having to live in Britain. Shudder.
I took a bunch of photographs both times, and a selection can be seen here.
Robert Smirke (1781-1867) was born in London. His father (1752-1845), also Robert, was a historical painter and book illustrator, from Wigton in West Cumbria. He was a leading architect of the Greek Revival, and had a large London practice, much of which was concerned with public buildings.
Although his domestic architecture was Gothic Revival, he is best known for his Neo-Classical public buildings, such as the British Museum (1823-1847), and the Covent Garden Theatre, both in London. Lowther Castle was his first job, in 1806, when he was just 25, followed by Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, both in the medieval style.
Together with John Nash and Sir John Soane, he became official architect to the Office of Works. He advised the Parlimentary Commissioners on the building of new Churches from 1818 onwards, contributing four himself. He designed many buildings outside London, examples being the Shire Halls of Gloucester, Shrewsbury and Hereford. He was knighted in 1832, and received the RIBA Gold Medal for Architecture in 1853.
He died in Cheltenham on April 18th 1867.
 T.H.B. Graham, An old Map of Hayton Manor, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquities and Archaeological Society, N.S. VII, p. 42. (1907)
 T.H.B. Graham, The Old Village of Edmond Castle, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquities and Archaeological Society, N.S. VIII, p. 13. (1908)
 T.H.B. Graham, The Parish of Hayton, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquities and Archaeological Society, N.S. VIII, p. 55. (1908)
 T.H.B. Graham, Annals of Hayton, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquities and Archaeological Society, N.S. XXV, p. 311. (1925)