CARLISLE, a city, municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Cumberland, England, 299 m. N.N.W. of London, and 8 m. S. of the Scottish border. Pop. (1901) 45,480. It lies on the south bank of the river Eden, a little below the point where it debouches upon the Solway Plain, 8 m. above its mouth in the Solway Firth, at the junction of two tributaries from the south, the Caldew and the Petteril. The city grew up originally on and about the two slight eminences of the peninsula enclosed between these three streams. To the north of the Eden lies the suburb of Stanwix, connected with the city by a handsome bridge (1812–1815). The rivers are not navigable, and a canal opened in 1823, connecting the city with Port Carlisle on the Solway Firth, was unsuccessful, and was converted into a railway. Silloth, on the Irish Sea, is the nearest port of importance (21 m.). Carlisle, however, is one of the principal railway centres in Great Britain. The London & North-Western and the Midland railways of England, and the Caledonian, North British and Glasgow & South-Western of Scotland, here make a junction for through traffic between England and Scotland; and the city is further served by the North Eastern (from Newcastle) and the Maryport & Carlisle railways.
Carlisle is the seat of a bishop. Bede, in his life of St Cuthbert, alludes to a monastery here, and the saint was also believed to have founded a convent and school. But all was swept away by the Northmen, and though William Rufus, who rehabilitated the town, doubtless made provision for an ecclesiastical foundation, it was left for Henry I., in 1133, to create a bishopric out of the house of Augustinian canons, founded in 1102. This was the sole episcopal chapter of regular canons of St Augustine in England. It was dissolved in 1540. Between 1156 and 1204 the bishop’s throne was unoccupied, but thereafter there was a continuous succession. The diocese covers the whole of Westmorland, and practically of Cumberland, with Furness and the adjacent district in the north of Lancashire. The cathedral as it stands is a fine cruciform building with a central tower, but it is incomplete. Of the Norman nave, built by Æthelwold, the first prior and bishop, only two bays are standing, the remainder having been destroyed by the Parliamentarians in 1646. The south transept, and the lower part of the tower piers, are also of this period. Remarkable distortion is seen in the nave arches, owing to the sinking of the foundations. The thinness of the aisle walls, and the rude masonry of the foundations of the original apse which have been discovered, point to native, not Norman, workmanship. The choir is ornate and beautiful, and the huge Decorated east window, with its wonderful elaborate tracery, is perhaps the finest of its kind extant. The reconstruction of the Norman choir was begun in the middle of the 13th century, but the work was almost wholly destroyed by fire in 1292. The north transept and the tower also suffered. Building began again c. 1352, and the present tower, erected with some difficulty on the weak foundations of the Norman period, dates from 1400–1419. The conventual buildings are scanty, including little more than a Perpendicular gateway and refectory. A stone inscribed with runes, and a well, are among the objects of interest within the cathedral. Among the numerous memorials is one to Archdeacon Paley; and a stained-glass window commemorates the five children of Archibald Campbell Tait, dean of the cathedral, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. Of the two eminences within the three rivers, the cathedral occupies one, the castle the other. It was moated and very strong; but has been so far altered that only the keep is of special interest. A tower in which Mary, queen of Scots, was imprisoned was taken down in 1835. The castle serves as barracks. Fragments of the old city walls are seen on the western side over against the river Caldew. At Carlisle are the county gaol and the Cumberland infirmary, in connexion with which there is a seaside convalescent institution at Silloth. Other notable public buildings are the city hall, the court-houses, museum and art gallery. The grammar school, of very early foundation, received endowment from Henry VIII. Industries include the manufacture of cotton and woollen goods, and there are iron foundries, breweries, tanneries and large railway works. There is also a considerable agricultural trade. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The municipal borough is under a mayor, 10 aldermen and 30 councillors. Area, 2025 acres.
This was the Romano-British Luguvallium, probably rather a town than a fort, being one of the few towns as distinct from forts in the north of Britain. It lay a mile south of Hadrian’s wall. There are no traces above ground in situ; but many inscriptions, potsherds, coins and other such-like relics have been discovered.
Carlisle (Caer Luel, Karliol) is first mentioned in 685, when under the name of Luel it was bestowed by Ecgfrith on St Cuthbert to form part of his see of Lindisfarne. It was then a thriving and populous city, and when St Cuthbert visited it in 686 he was shown with pride the ancient walls and a Roman fountain of marvellous construction. Nennius, writing in the 9th century, mentions it in a list of British cities under the name of Caer Luadiit, Caer Ligualid or Caer Lualid, but about this time it was either wholly or in part destroyed by the Danes, and vanishes completely from history until in 1092 it was re-established as the political centre of the district by William Rufus, who built the castle and sent husbandmen to dwell there and till the land. During the centuries of border-strife which followed, the history of Carlisle centres round that of the castle, which formed the chief bulwark against the Scots on the western border, and played an important part in the history of the country down to the rebellion of the young Pretender in 1745. In 1292 a great fire destroyed nearly all the buildings and muniments of the city, so that no original charter is extant before that date. A charter from Edward I., dated 1293, however, exemplifies two earlier grants. The first, from Henry II., confirmed the liberties and customs which the city had theretofore enjoyed, granting in addition a free gild merchant, with other privileges. This grant is exemplified in the second charter, from Henry III., dated 1251. By a writ dated 5 Henry III. the citizens were allowed to hold the city direct from the king, paying a fee-farm rent of £60, instead of the former rent of £50, paid by the medium of the sheriff. A charter from Edward II., dated 1316, grants to the citizens the city, the king’s mills in the city, and the fishery in the Eden, at a fee-farm rent of £80 a year. A charter from Edward III. in 1352 enumerates the privileges and liberties hitherto enjoyed by the citizens, including a market twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday; a fair for sixteen days at the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (15th of August); free election of a mayor, bailiffs and two coroners; and the right to hold their markets in the place called “Battailholm.” It also mentions that the city was greatly impoverished by reason of the devastations of the Scots and by pestilence. Confirmations of former privileges were issued by Richard II., Henry IV. and Henry VI. A charter from Edward IV. in 1461, after reciting the damage sustained by the city through fire, reduced the fee-farm rent from £80 to £40, and granted to the citizens the fishery called the sheriff’s net, free of rent. Further confirmations were granted by later sovereigns. Although the city had been under the jurisdiction of a mayor and bailiffs at least as early as 1290, the first charter of incorporation was granted by Elizabeth in 1566; it established a corporation under the style of “a mayor, eleven worshipful persons, and twenty-four able persons.” A charter of James I. confirmed former liberties, and in 1638 Charles I. granted a charter under which the town continued to be governed until 1835. It declared Carlisle a city by itself, and established a corporation consisting of a mayor, 11 aldermen, 24 capital citizens, 2 bailiffs, 2 coroners and a recorder; the mayor, the recorder and 2 senior aldermen to be justices of the peace, and the mayor to be clerk of the market; other officers were a common clerk, a sword-bearer and three serjeants-at-mace. Two charters from Charles II. in 1664 and 1684 were never accepted. The latter granted a three days’ fair or market on the first Wednesday in June. Much valuable information relating to the early history and customs of Carlisle is furnished both by the Dormont Book, which contains an elaborate set of bye-laws dated 1561, and by the records of the eight craft gilds—weavers, smiths, tailors, tanners, shoemakers, skinners, butchers and merchants. The defensive and offensive warfare in which the citizens were constantly engaged until the union of the crowns of England and Scotland left little time for the development of commercial pursuits, and Fuller, writing in the 17th century, says that the sole manufacture, that of fustian, though established shortly after the Restoration, had met with scant encouragement. In 1750 the manufacture of coarse linen cloth was established, and was followed in a few years by the introduction of calico stamperies. The commercial prosperity of Carlisle, however, began with the railway development of the 19th century. In 1283 the citizens of Carlisle were summoned to send two representatives to parliament, but no return is recorded. From 1295 Carlisle continued to return two members until the Redistribution Act of 1885. At the time of the Scottish wars Edward I. held two parliaments at Carlisle—in 1300 and in 1307.
See Victoria County History, Cumberland; R. S. Ferguson, Some Municipal Records of the City of Carlisle (Cumberl. and Westm. Antiq. and Archaeol. Soc., Carlisle and London, 1887), and Royal Charters of Carlisle (ditto, Carlisle, &c., 1894); Mandell Creighton, Carlisle in “Historic Towns” series (London, 1889).