Kirkby Lonsdale Parish History & Description

Comprises the greater part of Lonsdale Ward, being about 10 miles in length, and from 4 to 6 in breadth. It is intersected by the Lune, which here assumes the character of a fine river, and flows through a fertile and picturesque valley. Of its nine townships, six of them are chapelries, and the following is an enumeration, with the returns of the number of inhabitants in 1801, 1811, and 1821, and the estimated annual value of the lands and buildings, in 1815:





Annual Value £































Hutton Roof……Chpy.


















































Is a small but neat market town, pleasantly situated on the west bank of the Lune, 15 miles NNE. of Lancaster, 11 miles S. by W. of Sedbergh, 12 miles SE. by S. of Kendal, and 245 miles NNW. of London, lying near the verge of Lancashire, and within a few miles of Yorkshire. The church yard is celebrated for the fine views it affords of the valley, the banks of which rise here to a great altitude. The bridge over the Lune is very old, and is an admirable structure, though inconveniently narrow; it is lofty, and has three arches beautifully ribbed. The mills are singularly situated on a steep declivity, and one above the other, so as to receive in turns the fall of water from a brook, in its descent into the valley, from a small lake of 12 ½ acres, called Terrybank Tarn, and distant 3 miles NNW. of the town. This stream turns seven wheels, which give motion to the machinery of two thrashing and grinding mills, a wood carding mill, two tanneries, etc. Here is a carpet and blanket manufactory, and a number of the inhabitants are employed in weaving coarse linen cloth, ginghams, and calicoes. Though the town has not been much increased during the last fifty years, it is still in importance the third town in the colony, and most of the houses have been re-built, and the streets and market-place greatly improved; so that is has now a modern appearance, though it had a charter for a market and fair as early as the 11th year of the reign of Henry III. The MARKET is held on Thursdays, and is well supplied with provisions, coal, turf, horses, sheep, cattle, swine, etc. Five FAIRS for cattle, etc. hare held annually, viz. on Maunday-Thursday, Holy Thursday, and that day three weeks; 5th of October, and 21st of December. The new market place is a spacious square, formed in 1822. The ancient Markey Cross stands in the Little Market place, now devoted to the sale of fish, coal, turf, and fuel. The fine hanging gardens around the town contrast well with the white stone walls and blue roofs of the houses, and throw over the whole scene a pleasing aspect. The CHURCH, dedicated to St. Mary, stands in a spacious burial ground, near the verge of a steep bank that rises from the river, and is here ascended by a flight of forty-six steps, with eleven broad landings. It is a large ancient structure, 120 feet long and 102 broad, and has a square tower, which is 68 feet high, and was re-built in 1705. It has a peal of six bells, with chimes that play at three, six, nine, and twelve o’clock. The old bells were sold in 1826, when the present peal was purchased. The gallery at the west end was erected in 1757; and the organ, which was purchased in 1799, was enlarged in 1810, and improved with a trumpet stop in 1820. In repairing the church in 1808, it was discovered that some of the timbers bore the date 1149. In the Church Library is the following inscription: "This library, pulpit, and new loft, together with the school-house, were founded by Mr. Henry Wilson, of Underley, who gave to the college £1000, besides £35 yearly to seven poor scholars going to Queen’s College, in Oxford; and to this church and school £240; to the poor of Kirkby-Lonsdale lordship £500; besides many other gifts to pious uses in other places; by all which, be being dead, yet speakest." The pulpit is curiously carved, and bears the date 1619. In Machel’s time, there were in the porch at the east end, the ruins of a beautiful alabaster monument, with the effigies of one of the Middletons and his lady. A chantry was founded here by William Middleton, in 1486, and endowed with seven marks yearly, out of land in Garsdale. In the church yard is a monumental pillar, raised, as the inscription says, by subscription, in memory of the five young women, who were burnt to death, Dec. 6th 1820, in the dreadful fire which consumed the Rose and Crown hotel.

The Church was given by Ivo de Talebois to St. Mary’s Abbey, York, and after the dissolution, in 1553, the impropriation and advowson of the Vicarage were granted to Trinity College, Cambridge, and still belong to that institution. The Rev. Joseph Sharp, A.M. is the present vicar. In the valuation of the 26th of Henry VIII. the vicarage is rated at £20 15s. 5d., but it was afterwards certified at the clear yearly value of £49 13s. 8d. Charles Buchanan, who was driven out of Scotland for refusing the covenant, was vicar of Kirkby-Lonsdale in the reign of Charles I. "and during the progress of the rebellion he suffered greatly, being persecuted by two of his parishioners, who were captains in the Parliament army, and got him not only sequestered but also several times hurried to Lancaster gaol, once out of the church, and once out of his bed, the last of which times he suffered nearly three years imprisonment;" but on the restoration he returned to his living and was soon afterwards made a prebendary of Carlisle, and inducted to a living in that neighbourhood. An ancient chapel at Tarnside was demolished about 1680. Near the church is a small building called Abbott Hall, and a place called Dean’s Biggin, supposed to have been the seat of the "Rural Deanery of Kirkby-Lonsdale," which is in the Diocese of Chester. In the town are three dissenting Congregations, viz. the GLASSITES, who have long existed here, and have just built a new chapel near the new road; the INDEPENDENTS, who built a neat chapel and Sunday school in 1816; in the Back-lane, and are now under the ministry of the Rev. Samuel Healey; and the WESLEYANS, who have a licensed meeting room in Coates’-yard.

The FREE GRAMMAR SCHOOL of Kirkby-Lonsdale was founded by letters patent of Queen Elizabeth, in 1591, and placed under the control of 24 governors, having previously been endowed with £100 by one Godshalfe, and £100 subscribed by the inhabitants, for which sums a Mr. Tenant granted to the governors a rent charge of £20 a year out of the manors of Bedale and Scotton, in Yorkshire, "being the legal interest for the same at that time." Lady Curwen, heiress of the family of Carus, gave the school site, and also certain parcels of land near the "Biggins," which, with an allotment given at the enclosure, is now worth about £25 a year, which (with the rent charge of £20) is paid to the master, the Rev. John Dobson, who is assisted in the classical and mathematical department by Mr. John Just. The school was re-built by Mr. Henry Wilson, who died in 1628, and left £120 (charged on the demesne of Thurland Castle) for the use of an usher, and also £400 secured on the tithes of Farlton, for exhibitions for seven poor scholars, (four of them from this school and three from Kendal school) to Queen’s College, Oxford, "the said scholars to be natives of Cumberland or Westmorland." He likewise gave, as has already been seen, £500 to the poor of Kirkby-Lonsdale, with part of which and some other benefactions an estate at Leck, in Lancashire, was purchased, and is now let for £26 a year. The school has the sole benefit of three other exhibitions endowed with £200 by Thomas Wilson, brother of the above-named Henry. This sum was laid out in the purchase of a house and tenement at Bulbank, in Melling, now let for £60 a year, which is paid to three poor scholars sent to Christ’s College, Cambridge. Amongst the eminent men who has been scholars of Kirkby-Lonsdale are John Bell and Henry Bickersteth, Esquires, both of whom were senior wranglers of Trinity College, the former in 1784 and the latter in 1808, and are now of the King’s Counsel at the Chancery bar. The principal literary institution in the town is the BOOK CLUB, established in 1794, and now consisting of about 60 subscribers of 14s. per annum, possessing an excellent LIBRARY of upwards of 500 complete works, deposited at the house of Mr. Arthur Foster, who publishes for the Rev. William Carus Wilson, M.A. (rector of the neighbouring parish of Whittington, in Lancashire) two extensively circulated periodicals. A Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society has its depositary in the Horse Market, where the SAVING’S BANK, established in 1818, is open every Thursday from twelve till one o’clock. Mr. Thomas Gregg is the secretary.

Here are two Friendly Societies (the Union and Amicable) and a Lodge of Odd Fellows.

The extensive WORKHOUSE on the Mill Brow, was erected in 1811, at the cost of £2,150 for the use of 17 townships, which are incorporated for the support of paupers in this house, agreeable to an act passed in the 22nd of George III., viz. Kirkby-Lonsdale, Barbon, Casterton, Middleton, Firbank, Killington, Hutton Roof, and Old Hutton, in Westmorland; Whittington, Arkholm-with-Cawood, Melling-with-Wrayton, Cantsfield, Tunstall, Burrow-with-Burrow, and Leck, in Lancashire; and Burton-in-Lonsdale, and Thornton-in-Lonsdale, in Yorkshire. The money spent in erecting the house was borrowed in £50 shares, and besides the interest, one-twentieth part of the capital is liquidated annually, so that the whole debt will be discharged in 1831. Mr. Thomas Parkinson is the governor, and Mr. Thomas Gregg the visiter. The POOR RATES for the township of Kirkby-Lonsdale amounted in 1803, to £561 13s. 10d.; in 1820, to £889 5s. 7 ¼ d.; in 1824, to £702 16s. 1d.; and in 1827, to £820 17s. 10 ¼ d. This township includes the hamlets of BIGGINS, KEARSTWICK, and TARNSIDE.

The MANOR OF KIRKBY-LONSDALE, like the church, was given to St. Mary’s Abbey, in York, by Ivo de Talebois. After the dissolution it was purchased of the crown in 1557, together with lands and tenements at Hegholme, Kestwaite, Mansergh, Middleton, Biggins, Underley, and Tarnside, by Thomas Carus (then a lawyer of the Middle Temple, and subsequently one of the Justices of the King’s Bench) to be held in capite by the service of the 40th part of a knight’s fee. The family of Carus, who have still possessions in this neighbourhood, were of considerable note before the reign of Henry VIII., but in the 29th of Elizabeth, they sold this manor, with the appurtenances formerly belonging to St. Mary’s Abbey, to William Thornburgh and Thomas Curwen, from whom they passed to the Prestons, of Holker, who sold them to the Lowthers, so that they now belong to the Earl on Lonsdale, who as lord of the manor, has the tolls and the control of the market and fair at Kirkby-Lonsdale, and holds a Court Leet and View of Frankpledge in October, when five Inspectors and Regulators of the market and fairs are appointed, as well as other officers. PETTY SESSIONS for the Lonsdale Ward are held every Thursday at the Rose and Crown Hotel, before two or more of the following magistrates, viz. W. W. C. Wilson, C. Wilson, J. Gibson, A. Nowell, William Moore, Hornby Roughsedge, W. W. Atkinson, and T. Greene, M.P. Esqrs., for whom Mr. Wm. Dawson is clerk.

LUNEFIELD a beautiful seat in this manor and township, stands in a pleasant and picturesque situation above the river, a quarter of a mile east of the town, where it was erected in 1815, by the late Roger Carus, Esq. and is now the village of Wm. Carus, Esq. It is constructed on a cruciform plan, combining elegance with utility, presenting handsome fronts partly of polished free-stone, and partly of Roman cement, and ornamented with a portico of the Ionic order. The large bay windows in the rounded end of the transept command delightful views of the vale of Lune, whose rapidly-ascending banks are here richly ornamented with trees, gardens, and neat dwellings. In the field in front of the house a small part of the ground after very heavy rains rises to the height of two feet, when it bursts into an aquatic irruption sending forth a copious stream of water, which continues to flow for several hours. There are several copious springs in the neighbourhood, one of which, Binford-Well, frequently throws up a stream sufficient to turn a mill. In UNDERLEY PARK, about half a mile N. of the town, stands the elegant mansion of Arthur Nowell, Esq., which has just been erected in the magnificent Gothic style that prevailed in the reign of James I. BIGGINS HOUSE, one mile W. of the town, is the seat of Edw. Tomlinson, Esq. On the opposite side of the river in Casterton, one mile NNE. of the town, upon an eminence surrounded by fine plantations, stands CASTERTON HALL the stately mansion of Wm. Wilson Carus Wilson, Esq. whose ancestors, from an early period, have had possessions in Kirkby-Lonsdale, and have been great benefactors to the town and parish, in which their present representative is always foremost in zeal for promoting the comfort and prosperity of the inhabitants. A male branch of the Wilson family continued at Underley till 1730, when it was sold, but their present mansion was not erected till some years afterwards. Edward Wilson, Esq. has a good mansion in the town, with a large garden, in which stands a lofty embrazured tower, built about 50 years ago, and commanding a most extensive prospect of the vale. Near this tower, is Prospect Cottage, built in 1829 by Mr. Thomas Garnett, and on the bank descending precipitately from the church yard to the Lune, is perched Lune Cottage, the small but neat residence of Mr. Francis Pearson.

In the view from these villas, the most antique object is the BRIDGE, which, for its curious workmanship, exceeds any in the north of England. It is built of fine free-stones, almost all of a size, and so truly squared and well cemented, that the joints are scarcely perceivable. The three arches are turned and ribbed with the utmost exactness, both for strength and beauty. Some suppose it to be of Roman workmanship, while others think it is of later date; and a fabulous tradition determined to give it some known origin, has attributed it to the fabrication of the Devil, as appears by a legendary tale recorded in the Lonsdale Magazine.

BARBON, a neat pleasant village, on the east side of the Lune, 3 ½ miles N. by E. of Kirkby-Lonsdale, one mile nearer to which are the hamlets of HIGH AND LOW BECK-FOOT, both in this township and chapelry, in which are the following SEATS, viz. Whelprigg, Joseph Gibson, Esq.; Beck-Side, Wm. Walker, Esq.; and Bank-House, R.J. Garnett, Esq. North of the village are the lofty hills, called Barbon Fell and Barbon Beacon, extending to the confines of Yorkshire. The CHAPEL, and the School adjoining, were built by subscription and an assessment in 1815. The curacy is in the first of the Vicar of Kirkby-Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Rev. Harling Richardson. The living has received four lots of Queen Anne’s Bounty, and several donations, with which estates were purchased, one at High-Beck Foot in 1738; one at Over Kellet, (Lancashire) in 1758; and two at Kirthwaite, in Dent, (Yorkshire), in 1772 and 1808. The estate was last purchased, viz. Rayside is for the joint benefit of the curacies of Barbon, and Old and New Hutton. The curate of Barbon has also one-third of the rent of Tarndale Close, purchased with £46 15s., of which £31 3s. 4d., was poor stock. And the interest of £210, (in the Kirkby-Lonsdale Savings’ Bank) obtained by the sale of land left by John Garnet in 1721, is divided equally between the curate and schoolmaster. The manor, which, at the Domesday survey, belonged to Tosti, Earl of Northumberland, and was then called Berebrune, now belongs to Miss Shuttleworth, a descendant of Judge Shuttleworth, whose nephew, Richard Shuttleworth, Esq. of Gauthorp, enfranchised all the tenants, in 1716, reserving only an annual free rent of £15 8s.

BIGGINS HIGH AND LOW, two hamlets, 1 mile SW. of Kirkby-Lonsdale.

CASTERTON township lies between Lancashire, Barbon, and the Lune river, and contains a number of dispersed dwellings, a lofty Fell, and the hamlets of High and Low Casterton, distant 1 ½ mile NNE. of Kirkby-Lonsdale. A chapel formerly stood at Chapel-Head Close, and near it is St. Coume’s, (St. Columbe’s) Well. The Earl of Lonsdale is lord of the manor. Casterton Hall has just been described, but there are no vestiges or record to show that there was ever a castle here. The tenants are half free and half customary. In the reign of Charles I. there was a coal mine here.

COW-BROW, a hamlet in Lupton, 4 miles W. by N. of Kirkby-Lonsdale.

FIRBANK, anciently called Frithbank, is a wild mountainous township and chapelry, of straggling house, on the wet side of the Lune, which here forms the boundary of Yorkshire, this place being distant only from 2 to 3 miles W. of Sedbergh, and 10 miles N. of Kirkby-Lonsdale. The chapel, burial-ground, and school, are on the side of an extensive moor. The chapel has an estate called Green, in Lambrigg, left by Anthony Ward, together with 50 l. which, with 800 l. of Queen Anne’s Bounty, was laid out in the purchase of land at Firbank, Kentmere, Strickland Ketel, and Strickland Roger. The tenements of Firbank and Killington, which were anciently one manor, are all freehold, having been purchased from the mesne lords by the tenants, who consequently hold immediately of the Crown, as of the Marquis Fee, by the yearly free rent (jointly) of 6s. 8d., "as found by inquisition 28th Charles II." This rent is now paid to the Crown’s lessee, the Earl of Lonsdale. The Vicar of Lonsdale is patron of the curacy, and the Rev. John Greenwood is the incumbent.

HUTTON ROOF township and chapelry, has a small village of its own name; the hamlet of NEWBIGGIN, and several dispersed dwellings, from 2 ½ to 4 miles W. by S. of Kirkby-Lonsdale. It is a romantic district, bordering upon Lancashire and Farleton Knot, and containing several limestone quarries, some of which are on Hutton Roof Cragg. The common was enclosed in 1815, and it and the low lands are very fertile. The small CHAPEL, which was built in 1757, has been endowed with three estates purchased with Queen Anne’s Bounty and benefactions. The vicar of the parish is patron, and the Rev. John Dobson curate. The school was built by subscription in 1774, and endowed with 100l., left in 1773 by Thomas Chamney. The tenants of the manor have long been enfranchised, paying only a small quit rent to the Earl of Lonsdale.

KEARTSWICK, a hamlet, in the township of, and 1 mile N. of Kirkby-Lonsdale.

KILLINGTON is a mountainous township and chapelry, containing the hamlets of Killington-Hall, Beckside, Fellside, and Hall-beck, with a number of detached houses, from 5 to 7 miles N. of Kirkby-Lonsdale. The ancient CHAPEL was re-pewed in 1824, and formerly comprised within its jurisdiction the township of Firbank. The vicar is the patron, and the Rev. Wm. Moor the curate, for whom the Rev. Robert Wilkinson officiates. The living is worth upwards of 100l. a year arising from 13l. 17s. anciently salary; 20s. yearly out of Lord’s holm paid by John Upton, Esq.; 20s. yearly out of Bendrigg estate in Old Hutton, and left by Wm. Walker; an estate in Killington, purchased with 200l. of Queen Anne’s Bounty and the chapel stock; and estate in Dent, purchased in 1754 with 200l. more of the Queen’s Bounty, and 200l. left by Dr. Stratford; and the interest of 55l. viz. 40l. left by Thomas Hebblethwaite, 10l. by Hugh Bowman, and 5l. by Jacob Morland, Esq. Besides a small SCHOOL endowment, here are several CHARITIES belonging to the poor. KILLINGTON HALL, an ancient tower building, has lately been purchased, with the park and demesne, by John Upton, Esq., of Ingmire Hall, in Yorkshire. It is occupied by a farmer, but was long the seat of the knightly family of Pickering, from whom it passed through several families to the Morlands, who sold it to its present possessor, together with the neighbouring mansion of Capplethwaite Hall, now also a farm house. For manor, see Firbank.

LUPTON township has the hamlets of Cow-Brow, Lupton-Row, and Lupton-Smithy, with several straggling dwellings, from 2 ½ to 4 miles WNW. of Kirkby-Lonsdale. The manor was anciently called Lupetun, and is now held of the Earl of Lonsdale.

MANSERGH township and chapelry, contains the village of OLD TOWN, and about 20 dispersed houses, 3 miles N. by W. of Kirkby-Lonsdale. It is a wild district, having on its western side an extensive unenclosed common. The CHAPEL, dedicated to St. Peter, has a burial ground, and was built in 1726 by Jacob Dawson on his estate, called Nether Hall, the inhabitants paying for their seats, and subscribing with Mr. Dawson 120l., to which Oliver Martin added 80l., and the Governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty 200l. The latter afterwards gave two more lots of 200l. each, Lady Gower 100l. and the curate in 1777 100l. These sums, amounting to 1000l., were laid out in the purchase of estates at Old Hutton, Dent, and Casterton. The Rev. Edward Gorrell is the incumbent curate, and the Vicar of Kirkby-Lonsdale is the patron. The MANOR anciently belonged to the de Manserghs, and afterwards to the de Rigmaidens, Wards, and Godsalves, from whom it passed to its present possessor, Christopher Wilson, Esq., of Abbot Hall, who has just re-built on an elegant plan, the ancient manor house, called RIGMAIDEN HALL, upon a lofty eminence which rises rapidly from the west side of the Lune, and commands a fine view of the vale. The tenants pay 15d. fines.

MIDDLETON township and chapelry is bounded on the west by the Lune, and on the north by the Rother, which divides it from Yorkshire, and here falls into the Lune. It has a number of dispersed dwellings, and the hamlet of Middleton Head, 7 miles N. by E. of Kirkby-Lonsdale, and 3 ½ miles SW. of Sedbergh. A new bridge, of one arch, was built across the Rother in 1821. The CHAPEL, erected in 1634, and dedicated to the Holy Ghost, was re-built in 183, on the old site given by Dr. Bainbridge. It was made parochial in 1671, and the burial ground was enlarged by land given by Giles Moore. The curacy is in the gift of the Vicar of Kirkby-Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Rev. John Knipe. It is endowed with three small estates in Middleton, and one in Garsdale, purchased with 106l. ancient stock; 600l. of Queen Anne’s Bounty, given in 1750, 1756, and 1791; 100l. left by Dr. Stratford in 1756; 100l. left by the late Mrs. Pyncombe; and 100l. given by the present curate. Near the chapel is a small SCHOOL with a trifling endowment. The MANOR, in which are several lofty fells, was held for ten generations by the Middletons, who ended in two co-heiresses, having previously enfranchised the tenants, who pay only a small quit rent to the Earl of Lonsdale as lessee of the great barony of Kendal. Middleton Hall is a large castle-like mansion partly in ruins, and partly occupied by a farmer. It had a deer park, which was destroyed during the civil wars, in which the Middletons were great sufferers, and sold part of the demesne to Dr. Adam Askew, of Newcastle, where his descendant is now a barrister. South of the old hall is Grimes Hill, the seat of William Moore, Esq., who is also owner of Hawkin Hall, built by Dr. Bainbridge, master of Christ’s College, in the reign of Charles I. and now occupied by a farmer, as also is Beckside Hall, in which was born Sir John Otway, an eminent counselor during the civil wars. The place called Abbey belonged to Cockersand Abbey, in Lancashire.

OLD TOWN. – See Mansergh township.

TARNSIDE, a hamlet in the township of, and 2 miles NNW. of Kirkby-Lonsdale.

EDENLINKS Hosted by CumbriaFHS
acknowlegements to Les Strong