Castle Carrock

Is bounded on the north by Brampton and Hayton, on the south by Cumrew, on the east by Northumberland, and on the west by Cumrew and Carlatton. It is in Eskdale ward and petty sessional division; poor law union, deanery, rural and county court districts of Brampton; and the county council electoral division of Hayton.

The extent of the parish is, according to the Ordnance Survey, 3,031 statute acres, of which 14 are water and 341 public roads. The ratable area is 2,867 acres, which are assessed at 2,212, and have a population of 236. The parish lies on both sides of the river Gelt, and comprehends the northern portion of the lofty range of mountains extending from Cross Fell, near Alston. The arable land is light, and full of blue stones; the high ground is rugged and sterile, but the lower moor, being dry and covered with a fine herbage, affords good pasturage. Limestone and freestone are abundant. The commons were enclosed in pursuance of an Act of Parliament obtained in the 41st of George III. Castle Carrock Fell commands fine views of the most fertile portion of Cumberland, the Scottish hills, the Irish sea, Skiddaw, Saddleback, and the Northumbrian mountains. The old division of the parish into the Constablewicks of Town and Outerside Quarter is now almost obsolete. The first name which appears on the
manorial roll of Castle Carrock is Eustace de Vallibus, granted under his kinsman, Hubert de Vallibus or Vaux, upon whom Henry II conferred the barony of Gilsland as a recompense for services rendered the young prince in his contest with Stephen. The posterity of Eustace adopted the local name, and probably had their castle here, which has given a name to the parish. Robert de Castle Carrock, the fourth in descent, left three daughters, among whom the manor was divided, and descended for a long time in severalties, some of which eventually passed to the Dacres. The whole is now vested in the Earl of Carlisle, whose ancestors purchased the several parts at sundry times. The principal landowners are :- James Proctor Watson, Esq., Garth Marr; Joseph Beauchamp Watson; Mrs. Ann Watson., Holme Eden; John Watson; and George Bell Routledge, Esq., J.P., Tarn Lodge.

Castle Carrock is a small straggling village, situated on the west side of Geltsdale, four miles south of Brampton. Near the village are the apparent remains of two ancient fortifications; one, in a wet field, about forty yards east of the church, surrounded by a moat, now filled up, is 100 yards long and 40 broad; and the other, which is about a furlong towards the south, is about three times as large as this, and rises seven or eight yards above the surrounding meadow, but both have been in tillage for a length of time. A small stream runs close by the west side of each, and might easily be made to fill the former quite round. On the summit of the fell are two cairns, one of which, called Hespeck Raise, is of considerable magnitude. Near Gelt bridge was another cairn, and when the stones were removed in 1775, by the farmer on whose land it was situated, a cistaven or rude stone coffin was found, in which was a human skeleton. About thirty years ago, another cistaven, containing a human skeleton, was unearthed by two farmers near to Greenwell; accompanying it were an urn and a flint, probably the hatchet of the warrior chief, whose mouldered remains were thus brought to view 2,000 years after his entombment.

The church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a small edifice, capable of accommodating about 130 worshippers, erected in 1828, at a cost of 250, and completely restored in 1888 at a cost of about 800. The interior presents a very neat appearance. The east window is a beautiful work of art. It is of three lights, filled with glass of a thousand colours, and represents our Lord in the centre, with His mother the Blessed Virgin, and the beloved disciple, St. John, on either side. Underneath is the following inscription : "To the memory of John and Hannah Maria Watson of Gelt Hall, erected by their son James and daughter Elizabeth, A.D. 1888." The old church, which had long been in a delapidated condition, is supposed to have been built out of the ruins of an old castle that stood upon one of the entrenchments already mentioned; and what seems to corroborate the tradition is that there were in the walls of the old church several broken pieces of carved stone, evidently taken from some other building. On the bell, which was removed from the old church, is the following inscription : "Praise thou the Lord, O Castle Carrock." The benefice is a rectory, in the patronage of the dean and chapter of Carlisle, and now held by the Rev. J. Proude. It is valued in the King's Book at 5 12s. 1d., but is now worth 204 a year. When the common was enclosed 290 acres were allotted to the church in lieu of all tithes.

The school, situated in the village, received an allotment of 24 acres on the enclosure of the common, which now lets for 18 yearly. Accommodation, 85; average attendance, 50. The chapel of the Independent Methodists was erected in 1853, at a cost of about 200. Both the site and building were the gift of Mr. Ralph Watson. A new Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1899 at a cost of 150.

The Watson Institute, a fine block of red sandstone buildings, consisting of a Public Hall, Free Library, and Reading Room, was erected in 1898, at a cost of 1,500. The inhabitants of Castle Carrock were indebted to the generosity of James Proctor Watson, Esq., for this great acquisition to their comfort and well being. The same beneficent gentleman presented 700 volumes to the library. Papers and periodicals are supplied by Lady Carlisle. The hall is used for concerts, dances, etc.

Gelt Hall, the splendid mansion of J. Beauchamp Watson, Esq., and the residence of David Fenwick Steavenson, Esq., is a noble stone structure, surmounted by a tall clock tower, and of a pleasing style of architecture. It stands on a slight eminence in the village and was erected in 1863.

Tarn Lodge is another handsome pile, the residence of George Bell Routledge, Esq., J.P.

Geltsdale Forest (extra-parochial) is an extensive tract of mountain to the south-east of Castle Carrock, owned by the Earl of Carlisle. Part of it abounds in birch and alderwood, and gives rise to the river Gelt, which flows northward. Previous to the dissolution, both this and the adjoining forest of Brierthwaite, belonged to the priory of Hexham, but after the suppression of that house, were granted to the barons of Gilsland. The whole of this tract is now farmed by Mr. Philip Bushby Dobson.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman