This is a very extensive parish, consisting of the township of its own name, also Berrier and Murrah, Little Blencow, Bowscale, Hutton John, Hutton Roof, Hutton Soil, Johnby, Motherby and Gill, and Mungrisdale, in Leath ward and petty sessional division, union, rural and county court districts of Penrith and deanery of Penrith West. It forms the head of a division for the election of a member of the county council. Besides being one of the largest, Greystoke is also one of the most fertile and picturesque districts within the limits of the county. It is bounded by the parishes of Dacre, Newton, Skelton, Castle Sowerby, Caldbeck, and Crosthwaite, and by Ullswater Lake and Westmorland. The soil is generally a light red loam, with a strong red clay in some parts and in others a mixture of gravel. The land is less adapted for cereal and root crops than for meadow grass, the farms are therefore chiefly laid out for grazing. On the fells and high ground large numbers of sheep are reared, producing mutton of the very finest flavour. Limestone and freestone are freely distributed along the eastern side, and mountains of syenite and other primitive rocks form an interesting geological feature of the west. Grouse abound on the mountains and moors, and black cock, pheasants, partridges, and hares, in the lower grounds. The extensive parks of Greystoke and Gowbarrow are plentifully stocked with red and fallow deer, and here is also preserved a herd of the original wild cattle of the country. The parish abounds in patches of lovely and picturesque scenery, where wood and water, hill and dale, unite their charms in the most pleasing combinations.
The Barony of Greystoke embraces all that part of Cumberland lying between Inglewood Forest and Ullswater on the north and south, and the seigniory of Penrith and the manor of Castlerigg, near Keswick, on the east and west. It includes within its limits the parishes of Greystoke, Dacre, and part of Crosthwaite, and comprises the following manors, viz.: Greystoke, Greenthwaite, Johnby, Thwaite, Blencow, Newbiggin and Stainton, Motherby, Watermillock, Matterdale, Mungrisdale, Berrier and Murrah, Hutton Soil, Dacre, Threlkeld, and part of Castlerigg. It is held of the Crown in capite, by the service of one entire barony, rendering £4 yearly at the fairs of Carlisle, by suit at the County Court monthly, and serving the king in person against Scotland. The customary tenants pay a 20d. fine on the death of the lord, and a 30d. fine on alienation. In order to lighten the burdens of the customary tenants, the late Duke of Norfolk made a tripartite division of baronial honours by appointing three persons to hold the barony conjointly, the fines to he paid only on the death of the last of the three. In a record of the 44th year of Elizabeth, the manors of Motherby, Matterdale, Grisdale, Watermillock, and Berrier and Murrah, are mentioned as appendages to the manor of Greystoke.
The barony of Greystoke has passed through the families of Greystoke, Grimesthorp, and Dacre, from whom it came to the Howards, the present owners. The first who held the barony was one Lyulph, to whom it was granted by Ranulph de Meschines, Earl of Carlisle, a title which then (temp. Henry I.) included the present Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. Lyulph's posterity assumed the name of Greystoke, and held the barony in the direct male line until 1306, when John de Greystoke, the tenth baron, died without issue, and the estate passed to his cousin, Ralph Fitz William, of Grimesthorp, whose mother was Joan de Greystoke. This line ended in a female, Elizabeth Greystoke, who succeeded her grandfather in 1487. By her marriage with Thomas, Baron Dacre, of Gilsland, the two baronies became united in the same family. Sir Robert, the father of Elizabeth, pre-deceased his own father, the Baron of Greystoke. Elizabeth was a minor at the time of her father's death, and was placed under the care of the Cliffords of Brougham Castle. She was probably intended to be the wife of one of that family, but the Baron of Gilsland contrived to carry on a secret amour with the young heiress, and, by a preconcerted arrangement between the two, carried her of during the night and married her. Thomas, Baron Dacre, served at the seige of Norham Castle, and commanded the reserve at the battle of Flodden Field. He was Lord Warden of the Marches, and by his vigilance and vigour inspired the Scots over the border with a wholesome terror of his name. The third in descent from this Thomas was George, Baron of Greystoke and Gilsland, who was five years of age when he succeeded to the estates by the death of his father. His widowed mother afterwards became the third wife of the Duke of Norfolk, but died without issue by him. The infant heir survived his mother but one year, when he came to an untimely end through a fall from a wooden horse. He left three sisters who thus became co-heiresses of the two baronies and other possessions. Being minors the Duke, their stepfather, obtained a grant of their wardship, with power to dispose of them in marriage. To secure their broad acres in his own family he married them to his three sons by his first two wives. Philip, Earl of Arundel, married Anne, the eldest of the three girls, and acquired the barony of Greystoke. Thus came the Howards into possession, a family which ranks as one of the noblest in the land, and connected both by its alliances and by descent with Royalty itself. Philip, Earl of Arundel and Baron of Greystoke, was attainted of treason, and died a prisoner in the tower in the reign of Elizabeth, leaving an infant son, Thomas, who, by his father's attainder, was deprived of all the family honours and possessions, but was restored by Act of Parliament in the first year of James I. The earl died in 1646, and was succeeded by his second son, Henry Frederick, Earl of Arundel, &c., whose two eldest sons held in succession the ducal honours of Norfolk. The third son, Philip, better known as Cardinal Howard, died in 1694, and Charles, the fourth son, was Baron of Greystoke. His son, Henry Charles, succeeded to the barony, and died in 1720, leaving a son, Charles, who afterwards became the thirteenth Duke of Norfolk. At his death in 1786, the honours and princely estates of the family passed to his only son, Charles, who became Duke of Norfolk, hereditary Earl Marshal of England, Earl of Arundel, Surrey, and Norfolk, Baron of Clun, Oswaldestre and Maltravers, and several other titles. His grace died without issue in 1815, and bequeathed Greystoke and his estates in Cumberland and Westmorland to Henry Howard, Esq., only son of Lord Henry Howard Molyneaux Howard, brother to Bernard Edward, twelfth Duke of Norfolk. Henry died in 1883, and was succeeded by his son Henry Charles, the present baron. For further particulars of the several branches of this noble family, see the histories of Carlisle, Corby, and Naworth; the reader is also referred to the Memorials of the Howard Family," by Henry Howard, Esq., of Corby Castle.
Greystoke Castle, the noble mansion of the barons of Greystoke, stands in a park containing about 6,000 acres. The original castle was built by William de Greystoke in 1354; but the mansion as it now stands does not date more than 200 years back, though a few portions of the old edifice may still be discerned. The castle, during the parliamentary wars, was garrisoned for the king, but was captured and destroyed in 1648 by the Roundheads. It was rebuilt in an exaggerated style, but repairs and alterations during later years, from the designs of A. Salvin, Esq., F.S.A., have reduced it to something like elegance. A fire a few years ago completely destroyed the south wing of the castle, including the picture gallery, the walls of which were adorned by a valuable collection of paintings. Among those destroyed were many highly-prized portraits of members of the Howard family. The armoury, in which hung coats of mail and weapons of war representative of different periods of English history, also perished.
The principal landowners, besides the lord of the manor, are - T.E.H. Downson, Esq.; the Rev. E.A. Askew, and a few resident yeomen.
Greystoke or Greystock township comprises 4,699 acres, of which the gross estimated rental is £3,214; the ratable value of the land, £1,735; and of the buildings, £1,121. The village of the name is pleasantly situated near the source of the Petteril, five miles W. by N. of Penrith, and in the neighbourhood of the castle and the park.
The Church is a spacious structure, consisting of a nave, north and south aisles, chancel and tower, and is in the Perpendicular style. The date of its erection and the name of its founder are both lost in the mists of antiquity, but the names of its rectors can be traced back to the thirteenth century. In 1818 the body of the church underwent considerable repair. Jefferson in his History of Leath Ward, 1840, says:- This church contains the most extensive examples of the Perpendicular style in the county. It consists of a nave, with north and south aisles, a south porch, a choir, and a massive tower, little more than two squares in height, at the west end, engaged with plain parapets, and modern pinnacles containing a circular staircase in south west angle, which is supported by a buttress of seven stages. The belfry, or upper storey, contains four bells, and is lighted by a window on each side, apparently Early English, of two lights with trefoil heads united under one arch, with a quatrefoil in the division over the shaft. The choir is open to the timber framework, on the beams of which is the following inscription, showing the time of its erection:- "THOMAS HOWARD COMES ARVN, ET SVRR, PATRONVS ET GVLIELMVS MORLAND HVJVS ECCLESIĘ RECTOR AoDNI, 1645." The tower was entirely rebuilt in 1848, and surmounted by its present battlements; and in the same year the choir also was erected. All the windows are filled with stained glass, and the eastern one may be cited as an example of mediaeval art. It is a Perpendicular one of five lights, and the subjects pictured upon the lower half are supposed to be passages from the life of St. Andrew, to whom the church is dedicated. In the upper portion of the five lights the Annunciation is represented, in the form of a dove descending into a beam of light upon the Blessed Virgin, also the figures of several saints, varied with pious emblems of Christianity, such as the Five Sacred Wounds, etc. Two groups of lay figures are also shown, which evidently belong by their dress to the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth respectively. They are thought to be members of the Dacre family, of the baronies of Greystoke and Gilsland. The tracery in the upper part is rich in heraldic designs; these refer, on the northern half, to the barony of Greystoke, as the owner of the castle repairs the north side of the chancel; and on the southern half, to the ecclesiastical element, viz., bishop, patron, and rector, as the rector owns the south side. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, or the beginning of the nineteenth, a portion of the glass was removed by permission of the rector to the Castle, and placed in the windows of the private chapel there; this, however, was brought back in 1848, and with glass from other parts of the church and a quantity of new, was worked up into its present beautiful form. In the south aisle recline the carved figures of two knights in plate-armour. The smaller one lies below a canopy with his head on a pillow, supported by two angels, and his feet resting on a lion. The canopy bears several shields, but the armorial devices are too faint to trace. The large figure, broken off at the knees, is supposed to represent a baron of Greystoke. A window on the south side of the chancel is also filled with ancient glass; the others are all modern, and contain the armorial bearings of the Howards and the old families of the parish. The window over the south door, representing "Faith, Hope, and Charity," was inserted in 1884 by the Girls' Friendly Society. In 1891 the restoration of the interior of the church was completed, and new oak sittings put in, at a cost of nearly £1,000, raised by subscription. Several handsome gifts were made in the shape of new altar steps, font, pulpit, etc., and about eight years later a new organ was placed in the church by members of the Howard family as a memorial to their mother. The stalls of the choir are all furnished with those curiously-carved monstrosities known as misereres. These hideous deformities were intended, by ecclesiastical symbolism, to convey to the mind through the eye an impression of the sufferings of purgatory. There are in the floor of the church several old sepulchral slabs, and inscribed brasses in the walls. Some of these date from the fourteenth century, and almost all of them conclude with a pious ejaculation calling for mercy on the soul of the departed. A piscina still remains in the south wall.
The church of Greystoke is rectorial, and in the Valor of Pope Nicholas, in 1292, it was returned as worth £120 per annum. A few years later, in the reign of Edward II. the living was valued at £20; this depreciation, which appears to have been but temporary, is probably to be attributed to the impoverished state of the county, which resulted from the frequent incursions of the Scots during this reign. The church was converted into a college at an early period. In 1358, William do Greystoke, "for the salvation of his soul," gave to the collegiate church of Greystoke one messuage and seven acres of land at Newbiggin, and also the advowson of the parish church of Greystoke. In the following year, this grant was confirmed by Bishop Welton to the master and six chaplains forming the collegiate body. A commission of inquiry, which took place in 1379, elicited the fact that the spiritual interests of the parish were not so well looked after as the temporal, and that an increase in the clerical staff would promote the welfare of religion and of the parishioners. Three years later the inhabitants of Threlkeld and Watermillock brought themselves under the malediction of the bishop by their refusal to contribute to the repairs of the church, the walls of which "were crazy, the belfry fallen, and the wooden shingles on the roof mostly scattered." The threat of major excommunication brought the recalcitrant parishioners to their senses, and they contributed (willingly or otherwise we are not told), their share of the cost. In the same year the college seems to have received the Pope's sanction or confirmation; and about the same time six chantries were founded in the church, and a chaplain appointed to each. They were dedicated respectively to St. Andrew, St. Mary, St. John the Baptist, St. Katherine, St. Thomas ą Becket, and St. Peter, and were probably founded by Ralph, Baron Greystoke. Dugdale tells us that, in 1486, John de Greystoke gave, by will, his best horse for a mortuary, and his body to be buried in the collegiate church of Greystoke. The college was a secular and not a monastic institution, yet it fell in the wreck of religious houses by Henry VIII. At that time the stipend of each chaplain was 20 nobles per annum. After the Dissolution, the then rector (Parson Dacre) converted the college into a dwelling-house. The patronage of the living (now valued at £440) was long attached to the barony, but was sold in 1746 by Charles Howard, Esq., to Adam Askew, Esq., of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and is now possessed by the Rev. E.A. Askew, the present rector.
BERRIER and MURRAH, the, former a straggling village eight miles W. of Penrith, the latter a small hamlet of detached houses, nine miles W. by S. of the same town, form a united township for the relief of the poor, but for other purposes they are distinct. The total area under assessment is 2,465 acres, of which the gross estimated rental is £1,248; and the ratable value, £1,127. The population in 1801 was 136; in 1851, 134; in 1881, 103; and in 1891, 108. The land throughout the township is high, reaching at Berrier End a height of 900 feet, and at Berrier High Cross, 1,100 feet; the climate is consequently generally cold. The inclemency of the weather has become proverbial, and if inquiries be made, the inhabitants aver that they have nine months of winter, and three of cold weather. In a field on H.C. Howard's estate at Berrier End is a spring of excellent water, called Toykers Spring. There is a copious and constant flow, filling a cavity 20 yards in length, by the same in breadth, and 10 feet in depth. It is said never to freeze, and contains fresh water trout. Greystoke Moor Tarn, also near Berrier End, covers several acres, and though a considerable distance from the sea, is frequented by great numbers of sea gulls and other marine birds during the breeding season. The manorial rights are vested in H.C. Howard, Esq.; but the following have also estates within the township:- E.L. Waugh, Cockermouth; The Exors. of J. Harriman; James Spencer, Murrah Hall, and the Countess Ossalinsky. The commons were enclosed in 1800, and divided among the landowners. The tithes have been commuted for a yearly payment of £29. The school, erected in 1829, is endowed with £6 4s. 4d. a year, left by Mary Jacques in 1799. The testator bequeathed the sum of £200, the interest thereof to be applied to the support of a schoolmistress to teach the girls of Berrier, Whitbarrow, and Murrah, reading, writing, knitting, and sewing. An action in Chancery resulted; a verdict was obtained by the parishioners, but the expenses incurred reduced the amount to £163 18s. 3d.
LITTLE BLENCOW is a small township comprising 327 acres, of which the gross estimated rental is £499; the ratable value of the land, £301; and of the buildings, £137.
The manor of Blencow was long held by a family bearing the local name, who appear to have first settled at Great Blencow, in the parish of Dacre. The earliest member of this family, whose deeds have come down to posterity, was Adam de Blencowe, who, in the battles of Crecy and Poictiers fought under the banner of the Baron of Greystoke. His distinguished services in these wars were rewarded by the King with all the lands in Greystoke, Blencow, and Newbiggin, that had belonged to John Riddall, and acknowledged by the Baron of Greystoke, who granted arms to him as set forth in the following warrant:- "To all to whom these presents shall come to be seen or heard; William, Baron of Greystoke, lord of Morpeth, wisheth health in the Lord: know ye that I have given and granted to Adam de Blencowe an escutcheon sable, with a bend closselted (or barred) argent and azure, with three chaplets gules; and with a crest closselted argent and azure, of my arms, to have and to hold to the said Adam. and his heirs for ever. And I, the said William, and my heirs will warrant to the said Adam and his heirs the arms aforesaid. In witness whereof, I have to these letters patent set my seal. Written at the Castle of Morpeth, the 26th day of February, in the 30th year of the reign of Edward III., after the Conquest." (A.D. 1357.) The manor continued in the possession of the family until 1802, when Henry Prescot Blencowe, Esq., a direct lineal descendant, sold his Cumberland estates to the Duke of Norfolk, and are now the property of H.G. Howard, Esq.
Blencow Hall, the ancient manor house and residence of the Blencow family, reminds us by its pele towers and battlements of the age of turmoil and insecurity in these northern parts. The hall is now in the occupation of a farmer, and consists of two square embattled towers connected by some intervening domestic buildings. Behind the hall are the ruins of a chapel, near which is a fountain of spring water, supposed formerly to have served the purpose of a baptistry. It is a permanent spring, and the flow of the sparkling liquid does not appear to be affected by the severest droughts. In an ancient burial ground, also near the hall, there formerly stood a cross bearing the arms of the Blencowe family.
The Village School was erected by subscription in 1856, at a cost of £200. It is a small stone structure, attended by 26 children. There is also a Wesleyan Chapel, erected by subscription, in 1877. It is built of the freestone of the district, varied by red sandstone facings, and cost about £450.
BOWSCALE is a township comprising 2,560 acres, inclusive of a large portion of unenclosed common. The enclosed land measures 133 acres, the gross rental of which is £157, the ratable value of land £106, and of the buildings £28. This hamlet occupies a romantic situation at the foot of a lofty fell, ten miles W. by N. of Penrith, on the south side of the Caldew. Upon the fell is Bowscale Tarn, nearly a mile in length, and surrounded with such a lofty ridge of rocks, that during four months in winter it is excluded from the benefit of the sun, and is said sometimes to reflect the stars at noon-clay. The principal landowners are Joseph Gregg, Thomas Barrow, and Joseph Jackson.
HUTTON JOHN is a small township containing 533 acres of land, which, are assessed at £326; the ratable value of the buildings, including the railway, etc., is £358; and gross rental £971. The number of inhabitants at the present time amounts to 33. It is situated 5½ miles W. by S. of Penrith, and was probably designated John to distinguish this manor from two neighbouring ones held by branches of the Hutton family, viz., Hutton Roof or Ralph and Hutton Soil. This manor was long held by a family bearing the local name, and supposed to be a younger branch of the Huttons of Hutton, who can trace their connection with the district back to the reign of Edward III. Thomas Hutton, dying without issue in the reign of Elizabeth, the estates passed, by the marriage of his sister Mary, to Andrew Hudleston, Esq., of Farrington, Co. Lancaster, second son of Sir John Hudleston, of Millom Castle. His descendant, in 1787, sold the manor to the Duke of Norfolk, but retained the demesne. The manorial rights are vested in H.C. Howard, Esq., but the old hall is the property and residence of A.J. Hudleston, Esq. Speaking of this old manor house Mr. Jefferson, in his "History of Leath Ward," says:- "Hutton John is the last of a chain of border towers (Dacre Castle and Yanwath Hall being the two next links) extending down the vales of Eamont and Eden. The present mansion-house consists of the original square castellated tower, to which at different periods two wings have been added, forming the letter L. The more recent addition bears date just after the Restoration (1666), when, owing to the confiscation by Oliver Cromwell of the other property belonging to this branch of the Hudlestons, for the attachment of the family to the Royal cause, Hutton John had become their only place of residence. About a century afterwards the house underwent alterations, in conformity with the then prevailing style of architecture, which has much impaired the original character of the building, though it still retains a venerable appearance. The site of the house is well chosen at the head of the rich and beautiful vale of Dacre, down which it commands an extensive prospect, and the wooded banks in its vicinity are highly picturesque. On approaching Hutton John from the Keswick and Penrith turnpike road, a striking view presents itself of the mountains round Ullswater, and other wild scenery in the distance, with great variety of rich woodland and cultivation in the intermediate vale; from hence also is seen to great advantage West-Mell-Fell, a hill planted to the extent of six hundred acres by the Duke of Norfolk in 1815." A piece of gilt plate is still preserved in the family with religious care as a precious heirloom; it was the gift of the Princess Mary (afterwards Queen) to Mary Hutton, her god-daughter, and through marriage with this lady the Hudlestons obtained the estate. There is also preserved in the house an original portrait of Father Hudleston, who was instrumental in the escape of Prince Charles, after the battle of Worcester, and who also administered to him the last sacraments of the Church upon his death-bed.
Hutton John unites with Hutton Soil in electing a member for the district council, but in all other purposes it is distinct.
HUTTON ROOF, OR RAUF, is so designated to distinguish it from the neighbouring manors bearing the same name. The township comprises 2,496 acres, producing a gross estimated rental of £1,574. The land is assessed at £1,155, and the buildings at £263. The inhabitants number 136, and are chiefly engaged in agriculture. The village is pleasantly situated on an eminence ten miles W.N.W. of Penrith, and four miles S.S.E. of Hesket Newmarket. The manorial rights are possessed by H.C. Howard, Esq., but the following are also owners of estates within the township:- W. Longrigg, Esq., Winderwath; Mrs. Kitchen, Penrith; J.C. Toppin, Esq., Skelton; James Spencer, Esq., Murrah Hall; Messrs. Blaymire, John and Joseph Richardson, John Tiffin, and the Trustees of Hutton Roof School. The tithes of the township have been commuted for £17 10s., payable to the rector of Greystoke.
The village school was erected by the late Richard Richardson, Esq., of this township, and endowed by the same benevolent gentleman with a rent charge of £50, payable out of the Whamhead estate, containing 123 acres. There is in addition to this a school stock of £700 invested in Government securities, which, inclusive of the rent-charge, produces £120. The attendance averages 41. The master's house near the school was the gift of Mrs. Mitchell. On the gate-post the ordnance surveyors have recorded the altitude at 1,010 feet above the level of the sea.
Scales is a hamlet in this township 9½ miles NW. of Penrith.
HUTTON SOIL contains 4,349 acres of land, which are assessed for rating purposes at £2,502 ; the ratable value of the buildings is £1,535; and the gross rental, £4,489. Civilly, Hutton Soil is a distinct parish, that is, it enjoys the privilege of keeping its own rate-book, but ecclesiastically it is still in Greystoke parish. The landowners are H.C. Howard, Esq., J.P., who is also lord of the manor; Thomas Robinson, Esq., Whitbarrow Hall; Miss Agnes Simpson; John Porter, Troutbeck; Alfred Edmondson, Wallaway; John Kitchen, Thomas Porter; Thomas Glasson, Penrith; William Bowman, Askham; John Atkinson, Kirkbarrow; Robert Benn, Cockermouth; C.L. Waugh, Cockermouth; Mrs. Brougham, Penrith; W.H. Robinson, Lancaster; G.B. Foster, H.F. Newton, Rev. John Howell, George Innes, etc.
The Commons, of which there were about 3,500 acres, and also some open fields comprising about 240 acres, were enclosed in 1812 and divided among the landowners. The only village in the township is Penruddock, a name bestowed upon it by the ancient Celtic inhabitants, and which it has retained with little change, through all the mutations of time. Here is a Presbyterian Chapel, rebuilt about the year 1789, upon the site of a former one. At Beckces is a Wesleyan Chapel, erected by subscription in 1840, upon land given by Mr. John Edmondson. The village school was established in 1756 by Andrew Hudleston, Esq., of Hutton John, and was rebuilt in 1872 by subscription at a cost of £800. It is licensed by the Bishop for religious service, which is held every Sunday evening; and during the winter months is used as a reading room. The library contains between 400 and 500 volumes.
At the foot of Mell Fell is the Cloven Stone, so called from a slit eighteen inches wide, which divides the mass into two nearly equal parts. The block measures 51 feet in circumference, 11¼ feet in height, and is computed to weigh about 500 tons. This immense boulder, geologists tell us, must have been riven from its parent rock and carried hither during the glacial period of our history. The slit is supposed to have been caused by the electric fluid during some violent thunderstorm. A stone, somewhat similar in size, marks the boundary between this township and the parish of Watermillock.
JOHNBY - This township contains 1,928 acres of ratable land, of which the gross estimated rental is £1,231. The land is assessed at £742, And the buildings at £368. It forms a dependent manor of the barony of Greystoke, and was formerly held by the Musgraves, of Hayton Castle. It passed from this family by the marriage of the heiress to the Wyvills, of Yorkshire, and was by them sold to William Williams, gentleman, steward of Greystoke Castle. Mr. Williams left four daughters, the eldest of whom received Johnby for her inheritance, and conveyed it with her hand to Sir Edward Hasell, Knt., whose descendant, in 1783, sold it to the Duke of Norfolk. It is now the property of H.C. Howard, Esq. The tithes have been commuted for a yearly payment of £21 19s. 6d.
Johnby Hall is a substantial square building, probably erected about the year 1583, as the following inscription above the door bears that date:- "William Musgrave, Isabel Martindale, 1583. Nicholas Musgrave maret Margaret Tellel, Heyre. Thomas his sone maret Elizabet Dacre. Willm. his sone. Here now dwell, maret Isabel, Heyre to Martindale. To God I pray be vith hus allvaie." In the centre of the inscription is a shield encircled by a garter, inscribed "O God give me wisdome to know thee," surmounted by the Musgrave crest. The house is now the residence of Mrs. Leyborn Popham. The village of Johnby, containing about six farmhouses and a few cottages, is six and a half miles N.W. of Penrith.
MOTHERBY and GILL are two villages, the former 6¼ miles W., and the latter 5¼ miles W. by S. of Penrith, which gives name to the township. It contains about 468 acres of ratable land, of which the gross estimated rental is £749. The assessment value of the land is £509; and of the buildings, £163. All manorial rights are held by H.C. Howard, Esq.
The tithes have been commuted for a payment of £28 18s., payable to the rector. Previous to 1812 there was a portion of land known as Townfield or Ancient land, the common property of the inhabitants, but this was enclosed and allotted under the Enclosures Act, in the year just named. Isaac Peacock, in the year 1767, left the sum of £20, the interest thereof to be distributed among the poor.
MUNGRISDALE CHAPELRY embraces Mungrisdale, Murrah, Bowscale, and Gillsrow-Mosedale. The township contains 1,647 acres and 157 inhabitants; the gross estimated rental is returned at £1,397; the ratable value of the land, £995 ; and of the buildings, £252. Agriculture is the principal occupation of the inhabitants, but a few find employment in the mines. Blue slate was at one time quarried to some extent; and yellow ochre and manganese have also been obtained in fair quantities.
The manorial rights are vested in H.C. Howard, Esq. The lands are held by customary tenure, subject to a sixteen-penny fine on the death of the lord or tenant. The inhabitants have the right to use the peat moss on the common. The principal landowners, in addition to the lord of the manor, are the Countess Ossalinski; Joseph Martindale, Abbey Holme; Sarah Bellas, Souterfell; Mary Stalker, Penrith; John Mandale, Blake Hills; Joseph Mandale, Hutton Moor End; John S. Watson, Joseph Bennett, and Thomas Bennett, Liscow.
A provisional order for the enclosure of the waste land, 500 acres in extent, known as the Low Common, was obtained in 1891. Two allotments, each of 3 acres, were made, to be let as field gardens, the rents to be used in improving the land. About 7½ acres were also reserved for recreation grounds. The unenclosed common covers 4,400 acres.
The village of Mungrisdale is eleven miles W. by N. of Penrith and is situated on the water-parting, which separates the Caldew from Glendermakin, consequently the water near the village runs in opposite directions, and a person may, at his pleasure, send it to Carlisle by the former stream, or to Cockermouth by the latter.
The Chapel, of unknown dedication, was rebuilt in 1756, upon the site of an older one. It has been averred that the name Mungrisdale is a contraction of Mungogrisdale, though there is nothing now which retains the name of the saint. This conjecture seems to have some confirmation, however, from the inscription on the old communion cup of 1600, i.e., "Mounge Griees-dell." The church is endowed with a house and garden, and hag received augmentations of £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty, £200 by lot in 1745, £200 by the inhabitants in 1761, and £200 by the Countess Dowager Gower. The present value of the living is £133 - (rent of land, £83; and interest on £1,600 invested with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, £56 6s. 8d.) - and is held by the Rev. S.F. Whitehead, who was inducted in 1887. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the rector of Greystoke.
The Village School wag erected by subscription, in 1835, and endowed by J. Scott, Esq., with land in Mosedale, which now produces £45 a year. Number on books, 47; average attendance, 45; master, James W. Priestman.
In this township is Souter Fell, on which, on three different occasions, have been seen some strange and startling aerial phenomena, which, were they not attested by the evidence of several unimpeachable witnesses, would not have been believed. They are now known as the Spectre Horsemen of Souter Fell, and told briefly the facts are as follow:- On a summer's evening, in the year 1743, Daniel Stricket, servant to John Wren, of Wilton Hall, was sitting with his master at the door, when to their astonishment they saw what appeared to be a man and a dog pursuing, at a very rapid pace, some horses along the side of Souter Fell, a declivity so steep that a horse could scarcely keep its footing. On the following morning the two men ascended the mountain, expecting to find the body of the man, who they felt sure must have been killed, or to pick up some of the shoes which the horses would certainly have cast in such a furious gallop, but no trace of man, dog, or horse could be found.
On midsummer's eve of the following year another strange aerial phenomenon was witnessed. At this time troops of horsemen were seen riding on the side of Souter Fell, in close rank and at a brisk pace. The equestrian figures became visible at a place called Knott, and advanced in regular order along the side of the fell till they came opposite Blake Hills, when they passed over the mountain after describing a kind of curvilineal path. They moved at a regular quick walk, and continued visible for two hours, when the vision faded away in the darkness. Many troops were seen in succession, and frequently the last but one in a troop quitted his position, galloped to the front, and took up the same pace with the rest. These airy troopers were visible to every cottager within a mile of the fell. Twenty-six persons seem to have witnessed the phenomenon, and there appears no reason for doubting their testimony. The story was attested on oath before a magistrate at the time, and signed by two of the party.
"These extraordinary sights were received not only with distrust, but with absolute incredulity. They were not even honoured with a place in the records of natural phenomena, and the philosophers of the day were neither in possession of analogous facts, nor were they acquainted with those principles of atmospherical refraction upon which they depend. The strange phenomena, indeed, of the Fata Morgana, or the Castles of the Fairy Morgana, had long before been observed, and had been described by Kircher in the 17th century, but they presented nothing so mysterious as the aėrial troopers of Souter Fell; and the general characters of the two phenomena were so unlike, that even a philosopher might have been excused for ascribing them to different causes."*
Similar manifestations were seen near Stockton-on-Tees, in Yorkshire, in 1792; at Harrogate, on the 28th June, 1812; and near St. Neot's, in Huntingdonshire, in 1820. Among the Hartz Mountains, aerial apparitions are sometimes seen, and have been described by several writers.
* Brewster's Natural Magic.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman