All material on this site © Friends of Historic Dilston 2007-2016 unless otherwise stated.

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Welcome to the Friends of Historic Dilston website

Archaeology at DilstonChapel and new GalleryThe Lord's Bridge over DevilswaterThe portrait, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, shows James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, with his Countess Anna Maria and son JohnDilston Castle

Our organisation Friends of Historic Dilston (FoHD) was founded on 24 February 2007; a principle objective being to protect and preserve the character and amenities of Dilston Castle and Chapel as buildings of historic and architectural significance and the grounds in which they stand. At the time of the launch HISTORIC DILSTON was under the management of lease-holders North Pennines Heritage Trust, and the Friends assisted the Trust in the running of promotional events and with the maintenance of the site.

In September 2011, North Pennines Heritage Trust went into administration resulting in the two leases held on HISTORIC DILSTON reverting to the owners MENCAP and Allendale Estates. The following year MENCAP closed down the historic site, and, in 2014, sold Dilston College (together with Dilston Castle & Chapel) to the CAMBIAN Group one of the UK’s leading providers in specialist education. Since then FoHD has been party to negotiations with CAMBIAN to regain public access to HISTORIC DILSTON.

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Dilston Castle and Chapel after restoration in 2003


Chapel with Ushaw relicsHISTORIC DILSTON was established in 2003 when Dilston Castle and Chapel opened to the public following the completion of Phase1 of an ongoing restoration and conservation programme carried out by North Pennines Heritage Trust. The focus of the first phase of work was the stabilisation of the castle and restoration work to the chapel which resulted in the two Grade 1 scheduled ancient monuments being removed from English Heritage’s Register of Buildings at Risk.  

In 2009, the completion of Phase 2 of the HISTORIC DILSTON restoration programme was marked by an official visit by HRH The Princess Royal who unveiled a commemorative plaque at Dilston Chapel on 15 July of that year. This second phase of work included an extensive archaeological dig on land adjacent to Dilston Castle, the restoration of a fallen stairway inside the building, structural work to the seventeenth century Lord’s Bridge spanning Devil’s Water and the recreation of a walled carriageway leading down to the river.

Founder members of FoHD played a major role in the HISTORIC DILSTON conservation and restoration programme which was led by North Pennines Heritage Trust and backed throughout by past Principals of Dilston College (MENCAP). The two phases of work were financed by substantial grant awards from The National Lottery, with further funding from English Heritage, The Headley Trust, Sita Trust, The Sir James Knott Trust and Greenprints.