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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Rose Castle seeks help with building rescue bid

The future of Rose Castle looks to be a little more certain, as its “rescuers” advertise for its first paid employee.

Rose Castle photo
Rose Castle

The Grade I-listed building near Dalston, which was the home of the bishops of Carlisle from 1230 to 2009, looked set to lose its place in local history last year when the Church Commissioners’ assets committee prepared to agree in principle to sell it.

Residents and historians reacted with horror to the proposals and so, “in recognition of local and national feeling and of Rose’s great spiritual, historic and architectural significance”, the commissioners decided to postpone any sale until autumn 2013, to give the Friends of Rose Castle a chance to buy it.

The Friends had asked the church to lease Rose Castle to them on a peppercorn rent so they could open the grounds and part of the house to the public. Now, Cumbria Building Preservation Trust is advertising the position of a project officer for the castle.

The 2.5-day-a-week job will see the employee raising the profile of the building, launching a campaign to enable the trust to acquire the castle for public access and working with trustees to produce a business plan.

Other jobs will include preparing an exhibition about the history of the castle, producing a newsletter, training volunteers to give guided tours, organising fundraising events and preparing grant applications.

The job is an 18-month contract. John Miller, chief executive officer for Cumbria Building Preservation Trust, said the plans for the castle are still in their early stages, but this role was vital in providing it with a future.

“The person will give talks to outside organisations and connect with the general public and those interested in the future of Rose Castle – and there are many,” he said. “We have access to the castle four days per month, and are planning events.”

Mr Miller said the recent Heritage Open Days saw about 380 people take the opportunity to tour the castle and its grounds, and plans for future events are already underway.

“We plan to hold a Christmas carol concert there,” he added. “We are discussing ideas and plans for the future, and are willing to hear any ideas people may have.”

While the trust is willing to put in the time, effort and money into the future of Rose Castle, Mr Miller stressed that the involvement of the public is more important than ever.

“There is a great wish that the building should be used for the public,” he said. “But we have to prove it and we need the support of the community to make that possible.”

The project officer role is being jointly funded by English Heritage and Cumbria Building Preservation Trust. The deadline for applications is today, with interviews in a week.

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