This parish lies on the left bank of the Eden, and is bounded on the north by Lazonby, on the west by Lazonby and Penrith, and on the south by Edenhall and Penrith. It is comprised within Leath ward, and the petty sessional division of that name; the county council electoral division of Edenhall; deanery of Penrith E.; and the union and rural district of Penrith. The length from north to south is about three miles, and from east to west three and a half. At the last assessment the area was about 3,591 acres, the ratable value of the land £2,706, and of the buildings £1,618, and the gross rental £5,056. The soil, which is generally very fertile, is mostly of a light and gravelly nature, except near the Eden, where it has a mixture of loam. The inhabitants, who number 482, are chiefly engaged in agricultural pursuits, and attend Penrith market.
The manor was long a royal demesne, from which circumstance it has often been called Salkeld Regis (i.e., King's Salkeld). It was granted along with Penrith to Alexander of Scotland, but was forfeited to the Crown by the defection of Baliol. It was included in the grant of William III. to his Dutch favourite, William Bentinck, whom he created Earl of Portland. From this family it was purchased in 1787 by the Duke of Devonshire, and is now held by his successor, the present duke. The principal landowners are the Hon. A.W. Erskine, Bowscar; T.E.H. Dowson, Esq., Greystoke; R. H. Thompson, Esq., Nunwick Hall; the Exors. of the late R. Thompson, Esq., Inglewood; R.H. Borwick, Esq., Eden Lacy; Mrs. Joseph Bell, Mr. Rowlandson, Mr. William Dowson, the Trustees of ----- Porteus, John Falder, &c.
The village of Great Salkeld, from which the parish takes its name, is pleasantly situated on the picturesque banks of the Eden, five miles N.N.E. of Penrith, and three miles S. of Kirkoswald. In the bed of the river not far from the village is a column of masonry, supposed to have been the pier of an ancient bridge. In the year 1360, the bridge which spanned the river at this spot having been washed down by the flood, Bishop Welton hit upon a happy expedient for raising the necessary funds for rebuilding it. He granted to each and every sinner who should contribute to its repair, an indulgence of forty days; Roger de Salkeld and Richard Hunter were appointed treasurers; and all rectors, vicars, and chaplains in the diocese were commanded to pay over to them all contributions received on pain of the major excommunication. During the Civil Wars, an encounter took place near Salkeld, between a few royalists under Sir Philip Musgrave and Sir Henry Fletcher, and a body of the Covenanters under General Leslie, in which the former were defeated.
The Church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, is an ancient structure, which would appear, from the various styles of architecture it exhibits, to have been erected at at least three different periods. The nave is Norman, of about the 12th century, with an exceedingly fine doorway with early English details. The chancel is in the Perpendicular Gothic, and is supposed to have been built by Archdeacon Close the then rector, who died in 1470. The massive tower is four storeys high, and is entered from the nave by a ponderous iron-grated door, lined with oak. Beneath the vaulted ground floor is a dungeon; this, with the great thickness of the walls (six feet), plainly indicates the former use of the tower as a place of defence and security for the inhabitants. On the first storey is a fireplace, the lintel of which is formed of a sepulchral slab. The following letters may be traced on it. . . OMOBVS . . . E INGLEVOD. It is considered by many to refer to some one who was an officer in the Forest of Inglewood. Several other slabs are built into the walls. This tower is supposed to have been fortified about the time of Richard II. In the chancel lies buried Archdeacon Close; the spot is marked by a slab, on which was a brass bearing the following inscription (now obliterated):- "Orate pro anima Stephani Close, rectoris et Archdiaconis, qui mortuus est, A.D. MCCCCLXX." There is also a mutilated effigy, representing a man in the attitude of prayer, with the inscription: "Hic jacet Thomas de Caldbeck, Archidiac, 1373." An old helmet and some portions of a suit of mail are still preserved; and an old silver chalice, stamped with the mark of the York mint. The church underwent extensive repairs by William Nicolson, Archdeacon of Carlisle and rector of this parish about 1700 (afterwards Bishop of Carlisle), and again in 1879, at a cost of £600, raised by subscription; and a peal of bells has since been placed in the tower at a further outlay of £500.
As a memorial of the late rector, the Rev. S.J. Butler, the chancel has recently been refurnished, the walls panelled in oak, and the organ cased in the same wood. The church contains some handsome stained-glass windows, inserted to the memory of Mr. John Bowstead, gentleman, Beck Bank. The clock which adorns the tower was contributed as a memorial to Thomas Bowstead in 1892, the chimes being added in the same year, in remembrance of William Longrigg, of Grayson House. The living is a rectory in the patronage of the Bishop of Carlisle, and incumbency of the Rev. A.G. Loftie, B.A. It is valued in the King's Book at £22 10s. 8d., but is now worth £254. The living appears to have been held in connection with the archdeaconry since the foundation of the see; but by the new regulations which came into force in 1856, the connection is now severed.
A Free School was founded here before the Reformation, and endowed with several small rents and manorial fines. The school house was built, by subscription, in 1686, and in 1710 had an endowment of £3 per annum; but all its revenues are now lost. The present school was erected in 1856, at a cost of £570, raised by subscription, aided by Government grant; and a cloakroom added, and other small improvements effected in 1897 at a further outlay of £120. A small sum of money has been funded in memory of Mr. John Bowstead, and with the proceeds a silver medal is presented yearly to the most deserving scholar.
A Presbyterian Church was erected in the village in 1710, but this was superseded in 1876 by the present edifice, built at a cost of £600, £400 of which was contributed by the late Mrs. Byers. The same benevolent lady also left a similar sum as an endowment for the minister. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, at Salkeld Dykes, is a small stone building erected in 1832.
CHARITY. - There was formerly a Poor Stock amounting to £37 belonging to the parish; but it is now lost.
In the Village is a Reading Room and Library, built by R.R. Thompson, Esq., and let for the use of the parish at a nominal rent. The library is stocked with about 450 volumes. The members, who number 70, pay an annual subscription of 4s. 4d. Wolfa, a farmhouse and estate in this parish, is said to have been held in former times by the payment of a certain number of wolves' heads; Inglewood Bank is the property and residence of Robert Thompson, Esq. Nunwick Hall and Eden Lacy are both fine mansions. The former is a modern building, erected in 1892, close to the old hall, which has been converted into cottages for the use of employés on the estate. At the farmhouse called Burrell Green is preserved an ancient brass dish resembling a shield, with an inscription round it, now nearly effaced. Like the celebrated drinking glass of Eden Hall, this, too, has its legend and couplet, the latter of which runs thus:-
"If this dish be sold or gi'en,
This parish has been the birth-place of many eminent men, amongst whom are Edward Law, first Baron Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, who was born here in 1749, and died in 1818, leaving behind him a high character for legal ability; the Rev. George Benson, D.D., a learned Dissenting minister, who was born here in 1699, and died in 1762; Dr. Bowstead, the late Bishop of Lichfield, whose father was a respectable yeoman in this village, was born here in 1801. He was nephew to the late Rev. John Bowstead, and brother to the late Mr. John Bowstead, of Beck Bank, in this parish, and was remarkable for his piety, charity, and learning, having devoted his entire income to the furtherance of education. He died at Bristol on the 11th of October, 1843. Both the doctor, and his younger brother, Joseph, were educated at Cambridge, of which University they each obtained, in their respective years, the distinguished place of second wrangler. The gallant Colonel Moorhouse, who fell at the siege of Bangalore, in the East Indies; Rowland Wetheral, the celebrated mathematician and astronomer, who published his perpetual calculator or almanack, about the middle of the 18th century; and the Revs. Caleb Thomas and John Botheram were all natives of this parish.
Near Salkeld Dyke are vestiges of an ancient encampment, 400 yards long and four yards high and adjoining it is a circular basin of water, 50 yards in diameter and five feet deep, which appears to have been excavated for materials to form the encampment. At the distance of about a quarter of a mile are the remains of a fortified station, called Aikton Castle, formed of rough stones, without mortar, and now overgrown with bushes, and at a little distance from this is a tumulus of stones called a raise similar to Dunmail Raise.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman