Penrith was granted a market charter in 1223 by Henry III. In 1854 the market rights were leased by the Board of Health until they were eventually bought outright in 1878 for £4140. Today Eden District Council holds the rights to the market, ensuring that they are well populated with sellers and that they are promoted and publicised to the public.
Visiting the town on ‘market day’ was an important part of the week and gave villagers the opportunity to catch up on the local news and gossip while shopping for essential supplies and the occasional luxury item.
Traditionally farmers brought their produce into Penrith on a horse and cart, the need for stabling explains the many alleyways which lead from the front of inns to the stables behind. Today these alley ways are very much in use and lead to a variety of delightful courtyard spaces, where you can find delightful restaurants and specialist shops.
At one time Penrith had 57 public houses, with a population of 9182! However the inns and pubs had many uses other than eating and drinking. Inns were recognised places by which sell local produce at the markets. Grain sales were held outside the inns in the Cornmarket area of town (hence the name). Traditionally the Blackbull was Rye, the Black Lion was Wheat, The Fish Inn and White Hart were Oats, and the Griffin was Barley. As the town grew and prospered more areas of the town established their own specific markets.
Penrith Castle probably owes its origin to Ralph Neville 1st Earl of Westmorland who acquired the Manor of Penrith in 1396. The tower does look like a Pele Tower which was designed to with stand short sieges and are numerous in the Border region, due to frequent raids by the Scots.
Today there is a wooden footbridge leading to the red sandstone castle remains, which are open to the public and can be explored. Castle Park is situated next to the ancient ruins and has tennis courts, a bowling green and a children’s play area. There is a monument to those that died in the Boer War called the 'Black Angel' at the entrance of Castle Park, the park is the largest area of green space in Penrith.