Lady Anne is beloved of female historical fiction writers. She was a strong-willed and “high-achieving” woman in what was very much a man’s world. Born in 1590 at Skipton Castle and a childhood favourite of the aging Elizabeth I, she was the only surviving child of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland. However, Clifford left his estates to his brother, Francis, who became the 4th Earl. She was left £15,000 - an enormous amount - but the fact was that Edward II had created the title under the principle of primogeniture. The excuse was that she was only 15 at the time she should have inherited. It was only on the death of her uncle in 1643 without a male heir that she was able to secure the family estates and even then she had to wait a further six years to gain possession.
Throughout that period Lady Anne adamantly refused to renounce her claims. She had two husbands both of whom by all accounts, became bored with her obsessive campaigning and even contemporary writers suggested that she would not have been an easy companion! When she was granted a further £17,000 in compensation in 1617 her husband trousered the money himself!
Once she had taken possession, Anne spent considerable time, money and energy in restoring them, and the church at Ninekirks was one such project. Her peregrinations around her estates were the stuff of a legend at a time when little was expected of the female nobility. You might think that she was unfortunate to inherit only when she was in her declining years but, remarkably for the time, she lived to the age of 86 dying at nearby Brougham Castle.
Brougham Castle (owned by English Heritage) is nearby and it would be folly to miss seeing it when you are in the area. Lady Anne is interred in the church at Appleby only 12 miles from Brougham. If you are intrigued by Lady Anne and you are prepared to travel further afield then do visit the very interesting Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire. It’s a great place to visit as it is bang in the middle of the every attractive town.