This parish is circumscribed by the parishes of Crosby, Scaleby, Kirklinton, Hayton, Brampton, and Walton, and derives its name from the Irthing, which flows at its southern extremity, and which is crossed by a good stone bridge. It is comprised within Eskdale ward and petty sessional division; the county council electoral division of Hayton, and the deanery, poor law union, county court and rural districts of Brampton.

Irthington is intersected by the site of the great Roman wall, and also by the military road from Newcastle to Carlisle. In Newby township is situated Watch Cross, thought by some writers to he the Aballaba of the Romans. The soil of the ancient enclosures is light and sandy; that between the village and the river consists of a mixture of loam and moss, and clay is found on the hills. The parish belongs, in the geological series, to the old red sandstone formation, and yields abundance of that excellent material for building purposes. It is divided into the four townships of Irthington, Laversdale, Newby, and Newtown, whose united area is 7,178 acres. The gross estimated rental is £8,891, and the ratable value £6,834. During the present century the population has decreased to an alarming extent. In 1841 the parish contained 1,049 inhabitants; in 18B1, 858; while in 1891 there were only 764. This diminution is probably caused by the number of farm labourers who quit the ploughshare to seek the higher wages of the iron districts.

In the years 1851 and again in 1866, surveys were made for a projected line of railway between Brampton on the N.E, Railway, and Longtown on the North British Railway. In the latter year the scheme was taken up with great spirit, by many of the landowners and residents in the district, and a large amount o£ capital was raised. The local subscribers were induced to enter into the speculation through the misrepresentations of the promoters, who stated that the above Railway Companies would become very large shareholders, and provide the greater part of the funds. Both companies refused, however, to enter into the risk, the project was abandoned, and the subscribers lost nine-tenths of their shares, about £9,000.

IRTHINGTON. - The area and ratable value of this township are returned in the parish. The village is large and straggling, situated on the north side of the Irthing, from which it takes its name, the ton or town on the Irthing. It is about two and a half miles west by north of Brampton. Ruleholme is a hamlet in this township.

The earliest documentary information we have of Irthington is contained in the Chronicle of Lanercost. In that record we are told, a Court Baron was held there in 1280, a circumstance which proves that at that time, the Caput Baronię or principal mansion of the barony was situated at Irthington. The castle was probably erected by Robert de Vallibus, a name renowned both in legend and song. Within its walls all business connected with the barony was transacted; and the lords of Gilsland made it their occasional, if not their permanent residence, until the erection of Naworth Castle, by Ranulph de Dacre, in 1335. There is no evidence to show at what time this Norman castle was destroyed. Not a vestige of it is now standing; but the late Mr. R. Bell, of the Nook, near which the fortress stood, traced the foundations. But the unwritten history of the parish may be read in its name at a period long anterior to the advent of the Norman. Here the Irthingas, a Saxon tribe, settled, and the small village of wooden huts which they erected was known as the "ton" or town of the Irthingas. From this race or family, the river has, likewise, taken its name.

The whole parish is included in the barony of Gilsland, and is held by the Earl of Carlisle, but several of the estates are freehold. The principal landowners are the Earl of Carlisle; Robert Gibbons Graham, Esq., J.P., Beanlands Park; James Boustead Willoughby; Robert Hodgson Law, The Grange; Frederick Ponsonby Johnson, Esq., J.P. and D.L., Castlesteads; Reginald John Graham, Esq., Eastbourne; John Law Little, Watch Cross; William Bell, Brampton: George Routledge, Esq.; and J. Phillipson Law, Esq., J,P., Brampton.

The Church, dedicated to St. Kentigern, or Mungo, is a good specimen of Norman architecture, and is the principal object of interest in the parish. The original edifice was a plain building, erected about the twelfth century (most probably of materials taken from the neighbouring Roman station), when the Norman style was beginning to give place to the more ornate Gothic. In the restoration about fifty years ago some of the salient features of the old building wore preserved, notably, the beautiful Norman arch which spans the chancel, and the arches with their massive columns that form the nave. Stones taken from the Roman wall were used for the exterior of the chancel, and on many of these the original chisel marks of the Roman masons are distinctly visible. In 1896-7 the church was again renovated, and the handsome clock tower, containing five bells, erected by James Carruthers, Esq., of London. A brass in the N.W. corner is inscribed: "To the glory of God, and as a thanksgiving for many mercies, the tower, clock, and bells of this church were given to his native parish by James Carruthers, of London, in the 80th year of his age, the 61st year of the reign of Queen Victoria and the year of Our Lord MDCCCXCVII. O Lord accept and bless the gift." The sacred edifice is adorned by several stained glass windows; the principal one was erected by subscription to the memory of the late Mr. Robert Bell, of The Nook. It consists of three lights, the centre one containing a full length figure of St. Kentigern, the side portions representing scenes from the life of Our Lord. Another is a memorial to Robert Bowman, who is supposed to have been born at Hayton in 1705, and died here in 1823, at the advanced age of 118 years. The interest which attaches to this remarkable instance of longevity hay been cruelly dispelled by the Rev. H. Whitehead, in a communication to the Archaeological and Antiquarian Society of Cumberland and Westmorland. He therein proves most conclusively that the Robert Bowman who died in 1823, was not the Robert Bowman mentioned in the Hayton register in 1705. but probably his grandson; he would therefore be about 90 years of age at the time of his death, and not 118 as recorded on the memorial. Another beautiful window and a marble tablet record the memory of Miss Mary Beatrix Dobie, who passed most of her short happy life in the village, and was murdered in New Zealand by a Maori, November 25th, 1880. The west window is a lancet, portraying the Ascension, and is in memory of John Dodgson. The church contains many other memorials too numerous to enumerate.

The church of Irthington was given by Robert de Vallibus to the prior and convent of Lanercost, and was soon after appropriated to that house. The living was thenceforth a discharged vicarage, and in 1224, Walter Malclerk, Bishop of Carlisle, in adjusting the respective rights of the priory and the vicar gave the following decision: - The vicar to have the whole altarage, with the corn tithe of the vill of Irthington, and all the land belonging to the said church, with the tithe of hay and mills throughout the whole parish, with all small tithes belonging to the altarage; saving to the prior and convent yearly three eskeps of meal, and two eskeps of malt, which was afterwards altered by Bishop Close to one eskep and a half of oatmeal. In the valuation of church livings made by order of Pope Nicholas IV, in 1292, the church of Irthington was rated at. £13 15s., and the vicarage at £10. In the reign of Edward II they were returned as worth nothing, having been destroyed. The church and parish had evidently suffered by the incursions of the Scots, who, under their leaders, were at this time making frequent inroads into Cumberland. In the valuation of church property made by Henry VIII, this benefice was assessed at £6 1s. 5d. At the dissolution of Lanercost Priory the Church of Irthington was granted, among other possessions of the said priory, to Sir Thomas Dacre, Knight, by Edward VI, and the patronage continued in that family until purchased by Mrs. Horwood, wife of the present incumbent, the Rev. Thomas George Horwood, in 1899. There are about 400 acres of land belonging to the church, which, were allotted upon the inclosure of the common in 1783, in lieu of vicarial tithes. A small portion only of the parish is now subject to the payment of tithes, which amount to about £17, the rest has been commuted. A new vicarage is now in course of erection. The present value of the living is about £340.

A school was established at Irthington about the year 1792, and endowed with £100 by Jane Hetherington, and in 1795 a further sum of £100 was bequeathed by Jane Dalton. James Boustead, of Cumrenton, also bequeathed £200 for the education of the poor; two-thirds of the interest of this sum he directed to be given to Irthington school, and the other third to that at Laversdale. In 1874 a School Board for the parish was formed. A sum of £1,200 was borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board on the security of the rates, the whole to be repaid in 50 years. A new school, with dwelling-house for the teacher, was erected the following year, and is now attended by about 73 children.

Beanlands Park is a pleasantly situated residence, erected in 1870, and enlarged in 1894. It is the seat and property of Robert Gibbons Graham, Esq., J.P., and commands some fine views of the surrounding country. The antiquities of the parish were closely studied by the late Mr. R. Bell, of the Nook, an accomplished archaeological scholar, who did much to unravel the early history of Irthington. Near his residence he discovered the foundations of a Roman fort; he was also indefatigable in the collection of altars, inscribed coins, and other remains of antiquity which threw any light upon the history of the district.

LAVERSDALE. - The average and ratable value are returned in the parish, The Laver or Lever rivulet rises here, and gives its name to the township. The principal landowners are J.P. Law, Esq., J.P.; Mrs. Horwood, R.F. Saul, Edward R.P. Standish, Edward Waugh, Cockermouth; Rev. Isaac Phillips, Clitheroe; J.P. Phillips, and the resident yeomen. The township possesses an excellent school, erected about the year 1856, at a cost of £600, £284 of which was a grant from the Committee of Council of Education. The site was given by the late Robert James, of Mireside, who also left, by will, the sum of £300 towards the endowment, and £100 was left by the late James Boustead, of Cumrenton, for the same purpose. The late Mr, Thomas Sarginson, of Gill house, bequeathed £50 to this school; but all the educational endowments of the parish are now equally divided between the schools of Irthington and Laversdale. The average attendance at the present time reaches only 28.

CHARITY. - The late George Mulcastcr, of Laversdale, who died in 1852, bequeathed the interest of £100 vested in the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, to be distributed amongst the poor of his native village on Christmas Eve, annually. The share was sold and the proceeds invested in Government consols producing £6. 8s. 2d.interest.

The village of Laversdale is situated three and a half miles W.N.W. of Brampton. Old Wall is a hamlet about three miles W.N.W. of the same place. It appears to have been so named from the presence of some old walls or ruins, probably the remains of a small Roman fort or castle. Cumrenton was formerly a wood covering 300 acres, with 1,000 oke saplings growing therein."

NEWBY Township. - The acreage and ratable value are given with the parish. The greater part of the land is the property of Reginald John Graham, Eastbourne; J.L. Little, William Bell, and T.H.B. Graham. Near Watch Cross, in this township, Horsley tells us there was a small Roman fort, which he computed from the remains then existing, to have covered four and a half chains square. The common on which the remains were situated has since been brought into cultivation, and every vestige of the fort has been obliterated. Over the doorway of Newby Hall is the following: -

"In my defence God me defende
And bring me to an happie end.
Builded by me John Swanne
And K.S. Anno dom 1618."

The village is situated on the Irthing, four miles W. by S. of Brampton.

NEWTOWN. - The principal landowners are the Earl of Carlisle; F.P. Johnson; and John A. Armstrong, Baysleap, Northumberland. The village of Newtown is pleasantly situated two and a half miles N.W. of Brampton, The Great Roman Road ran through this and the adjoining township of Laversdale, and traces of it may still be seen in several places. Near the hamlet of Old Wall, the ditch which ran parallel with the wall may be easily distinguished for some distance. It is both wide and deep, and in one part has been planted with trees. About 30 yards to the south traces of the wall are distinctly visible. From Old Wall the vallum passes White Flat, where stones of the lower course may be found.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman