Edenhall

Is bounded on the east by the river Eden, on the south by the Eamont, on the west by the parish of Penrith, and on the north by Great Salkeld. It is comprised within Leath ward, and petty sessional division; the rural deanery of Penrith East; and the poor law union, rural and county court districts of Penrith. Edenhall forms the basis of a division for the election of a member of the county council. The parish is of very limited extent, containing only 3,283 acres, including roads, rivers, etc. The gross estimated rental is 3,857; the ratable value of the land, 2,105; of the buildings, 1,423; and the population, 235. Oats, barley, and turnips are the principal objects of cultivation. Red sandstone abounds in the district; and in a quarry of this stone opened out by the Settle and Carlisle Railway Company, on the slope of a hill about three and a half miles from Penrith, G.V. Smith, Esq., late of The Luham, discovered the well-marked footprints of some vertebrate animal impressed on the rock. Red sandstone, geologists tell us, wee formed by deposition in the sea which flowed over the north of England, at a period anterior to the upheaval of the immense mountain masses of magnesian limestone, so plentifully distributed over Cumberland and the adjoining counties. This animal, whatever it may have been, whose footprints were thus brought to light, must have wandered over the spot whilst the now obdurate rock was in its plastic, yielding state, and there left the impressions of its feet, to excite the curiosity and speculation of man countless ages afterwards.

The Manor of Edenhall, our historians tell us, was given by William the Conqueror to one Henry Fitz Swein; this, however, is a palpable error, for the Conqueror, as has been shown by that eminent antiquary, the late R. S. Ferguson, "had never any footing in the district." Cumberland was then a petty kingdom, tributary to Scotland, and ruled over by a Scottish Prince. William the Red, the Conqueror's son and successor, ousted the Scots from the county, but not until the reign of Henry I. were the lands of Cumberland parcelled out in baronies and manors. In the reign of the third Henry, Robert Turp was in possession, from which family it passed in the third descent, by the marriage of the co-heiress, to William Stapleton, in 1327. About 1460 it came by marriage to the martial and warlike family of the Musgraves,"* to whom it still belongs.

Eden Hall, the elegant mansion of the Musgraves, is delightfully situated in a park, abounding in sylvan spots and broad green lawns, sloping down to the banks of the Eden, whose meanderings lend an additional charm to the landscape. The present mansion was built in 1821, in the Italian style of architecture, but was much enlarged and beautified by the late Sir Richard Courtenay Musgrave. An addition has also been made to it by the present owner, in the form of a handsome billiard room.

There are few monastic ruins or dilapidated old halls in the country round which tradition has not woven some sensational story; and we have here, in the "Luck of Edenhall," a legend which more than one poet has deemed a subject worthy of his pen. The "Luck" is an ancient glass vessel, expanding in easy curve from the bottom upwards, and terminating in a graceful lip. It is of a greenish colour, enamelled with red, yellow, and blue, supposed to be of Saracenic origin, having probably been brought from Palestine by some Musgrave, on his return from the Crusades. It is preserved with scrupulous care in a leathern case, ornamented with vine leaves, and having on the top the letters I.H.C. Dr. Todd supposes it to have been used as a chalice, at a time when it was unsafe to have these sacred vessels made of costlier metals, on account of the predatory habits which prevailed on the borders.

Tradition accords to the cup a mysterious origin, and has wedded the prosperity of the Musgrave family to its preservation. As the tale runs, the butler went to the well close by, known as St. Cuthbert's Well, to draw water, and there beheld a company of fairies holding high revel and dancing round this goblet, in airy ring. He seized it, and they entreated its return; but to all the blandishments and persuasive eloquence of the tiny ladies, the ungallant "boteler" turned a deaf ear. The little folk finding its recovery hopeless, uttered these ominous words, and vanished from his sight:

"Where'er this cup shall break or fall,
Farewell the luck of Edenhall."

The rhymers and tale-tellers who have made the luck of Edenhall their theme, have manipulated this fairy legend in different ways; Uhland, a German poet, makes the youthful lord of Edenhall bring forth the "luck" to grace the board at one of his nightly revels, and in the midst of his carousal he cries out

"with harder blow than all
Will I try the luck of Edenhall !"

The goblet broke in his hand; and its fracture wrecked the building. His enemies burst in, slay the young lord, and fire the house. Next day the grey headed butler finds the burnt skeleton of his master holding

"in his hand the crystal tall,
The shattered luck of Edenhall !"

The Musgraves claim their descent from one of the knights who accompanied William the Conqueror to England, whose name is recorded in the Roll of Battle Abbey; but the first in the genealogical tree, of whom there is any certain information, is Peter de Musgrave, who lived in the reign of Stephen, and took his name from Musgrave in Westmorland, where they were first located. Sir Thomas de Musgrave, baron Musgrave, was summoned to Parliament from 1350 to 1373. In 1346 he was one of the commanders at the battle of Neville's Cross, near Durham, when David Bruce, King of Scotland was taken prisoner. As before stated, the Musgraves obtained possession of Edenhall by the marriage of Sir William with Joan, co-heiress of Sir William de Stapleton, and are connected by their alliances with the leading families of the north. Sir Richard Musgrave was made a K.B. at the coronation of James I.,, and in 1611 created a baronet. Sir Richard George Musgrave, the present and twelfth baronet, was born in 1872. He married, in 1895, Eleanor, daughter of Lord Suffield, by whom he has two sons, Nigel Courtenay, born 11th February, 1896, and Christopher, born February, 1899. This family was in days gone by a famous border clan, and for centuries they were associated in the guardianship of the Western Marches.

The village of Edenhall is four miles E. of Penrith.

The Church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, is both from its antiquity and its associations, one of the most interesting objects of the district. It appears to have been erected about the time of king Stephen, but has undergone during the succeeding centuries several restorations. The nave is open to the roof and is framed in the Tudor style. The pews are of oak, mellowed and darkened by age, and the pulpit displays much chaste and delicate carving. A solid oak gallery fills up the west end, in the front of which are carved the armorial bearings of the Musgraves, quartered with Stapleton and Ward. The windows are of two different styles, pointed and square-headed, and filled with stained glass. The east window is in the perpendicular style, and is filled with a medley of stained glass collected in various parts of the continent. It is a beautiful specimen of Venetian work. The spacious chancel is entered from the nave by a Norman arch, now covered with plaster. The font is a very ancient one, of freestone; the marble one which was in use some years ago has been removed to the vestry. The altar-table is of white marble, supported upon a frame-work of carved oak.

Within the rails, which surround the communion table, is a marble slab, inlaid with two brass plates, on which are engraved the figures of a warrior and a lady. An inscription over their heads tells us that the former represents Sir William Stapleton, Esq., and it is presumed that the latter is his wife. They died about 1458. In the chancel also are monuments to the various deceased members of the Musgrave family. The tower was probably used formerly as a beacon. It has a machiolated [sic] battlement with a projecting parapet, pierced with holes, through which molten lead and stones could be poured on the heads of besiegers. A small stone spire crowns the top of the tower.

The church was given by Edward I., in 1298, to the priory of St. Mary, Carlisle; and in 1368, the prior and canons obtained its appropriation. The benefice, previously a rectory, thenceforth became a vicarage; and after the suppression of monastic houses the patronage was transferred to the dean and chapter. In 1380, the vicarage of Langwathby was united with Edenhall by Bishop Appleby, and the two have ever since formed a joint living, which is now in the incumbency of the Rev. Bernard G.R. Hales. Both are valued in the King's Book at 17 12s. 1d., but the joint income is now returned at 225. The parish registers commence in 1558; and an entry, in 1598, informs us that the plague visited the parish that year, and forty-two persons (about one-fourth of the inhabitants) died of the pestilence. The vicarial tithes have been commuted for a yearly payment of 75.

The School is a neat stone building, with residence attached, attended by about 55 children (mixed); Master, A.B. Sinclair.

CHARITIES. - Sir Philip Musgrave and succeeding members of that family gave 163 4s. 10d., the interest to be divided amongst six poor people. This money seems to have been laid out about 1737, in the purchase of 17 acres of land at Lazonby. There is also the sum of 75, which was until recently secured by mortgage, on the road from Brough to Eamont Bridge, at 4 percent. This money arose from different sums given by the Musgrave family, and from 30 given by the tenants of Edenhall At the enclosure of Inglewood Forest, in 1811, 25a. 2r. 24p. were allotted to the poor of the parish, in respect of the land at Lazonby. In 1771, John Williamson gave 50, the interest to he divided between the schoolmaster and the poor of Edenhall. In 1806, Sir John Chardin Musgrave, Bart., left 50 to be added to the fund of the poor of this parish; and in 1838, Mary, dowager lady Musgrave left 100 for the benefit of the school here. The total Poor Stock is now 250, which is invested with the Charity Commissioners. The school receives 28 a year.

About half a mile from Edenhall, near a farmhouse called Honeypot, the river Eamont is fringed with overhanging rocks; in which are two caves, supposed either to have been the abode of a hermit or else a place of retreat in time of danger. One of them is only a narrow recess, but the other is more capacious. Access to them is a matter of some difficulty, as they are situated in the face of the perpendicular rock. The very irregular and broken state of the roof, protruding as it does in innumerable shapeless masses, and the general absence of design, show the caves to have been a natural formation, and afterwards adapted by man to some now unknown purpose. They are popularly known as Giants' Caves, and Isis Parlis, and are said to have been the abode of a Giant named Isis, who like Cacus of old, seized men and cattle, and drew them into his den to devour them. Another story is that in these caves Tarquin "the mighty knight did dwell," whose deeds may be read in the old ballad of Sir Lancelot du Lake. The district has been consecrated to myths, both in fairy form and fabled monster, and every local object, if uncommon or unusual, has been attributed to the one or the other, and so we have Giants' Caves, Giants' Graves, and what is still more strange a pillar bearing the name of Giants' Thumb. A writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," for 1791, tells us that it was customary for the lads and lasses of the neighbourhood to assemble at the Giants' Caves on the third Sunday in May, where they partook of a sweetened drink provided by the lasses, and the day was called Sugar and Water Sunday; they afterwards adjourned to the public-house, where the lads returned the compliment in cakes, ale, punch. &c.

* Camden.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman