This parish is bounded by those of St. Mary, Burgh, Kirkbampton, Kirkandrews, Aikton, Thursby, and Dalston, and is situated in Cumberland ward, and the petty sessional division of that name; the county council electoral division of Dalston; poor law union; county court and rural districts of Carlisle; and the rural deanery of Carlisle South.

The townships of Great Orton and Baldwin Holme are comprised within its limits, the united area of which is about 4,053 acres, assessed for rating purposes at 4,566, gross rental 5,098. The parish contained in 1891, 477 inhabitants. The soil is chiefly clayey with a mixture of gravel, and is held on freehold tenure. The manor of Orton is co-extensive with the parish, and was anciently held by a family to whom it gave name. The earliest record we have of them is a grant of free warren by Henry III. From the Ortons it was carried by the marriage of the heiress to Sir Clement de Skelton, who left four daughters, co-heiresses. Agnes married one of the Leighs of Isel, another married a Bellasis, a third was married to one of the Ridleys, and a fourth to a Blennerhasset. The manor was thereupon divided into three parts and given to the Leigh, Ridley, and Blennerhasset families, and a rent charge upon the land of 8 was given to Bellasis, whose heir sold the same to a Mr. Coledale, a merchant of Carlisle, from whom it passed by marriage to a younger branch of the Briscos. Subsequently John Brisco purchased the two parts of the manor which had been allotted to the Leighs and Blennerhasset families, and we find by an inquisition taken in the 30th Elizabeth (1588), that William Brisco, son of the said John Brisco, died seized of two-thirds of the manor, with 20 messuages, 400 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 200 acres of common, and 100 acres of wood, together with two-thirds of the advowson of the church. Soon after, Ridley's portion was purchased, and thus the whole manor, which is held of the manor of Levington, came into the possession of the Briscos, and is now the property of Sir Musgrave Horton Brisco, of Crofton Hall, Wigton, who holds a manorial court yearly, and receives about 40 per annum as lord's rent.

GREAT ORTON township comprises about 1,637 acres of ratable land, which are assessed for county and other rates at 3,466; buildings, 1,100. The gross estimated rental of the township is 5,098. The people are chiefly employed in agriculture, and attend the markets of Carlisle and Wigton. Sir Musgrave Horton Brisco is the most extensive landowner, but the following have also estates within the township; - Joseph B. Watson, Esq.; Clement S. Sutton, Esq., The Limes; John Nixon, Esq., Thomas B. Norman.

The village of Great Orton is five miles W. by S. of Carlisle. From an adjacent enclosure, called Parson's Thorn, no fewer than fifteen or sixteen churches may be seen in Cumberland and Scotland, with beautiful views of Carlisle, Gretna, and many other places. From the many Roman causeways and other foundations which have been from time to time dug up near the village, it is evident that Orton has been at one time a place of some consequence, and, probably, a market town. In Hutchinson's History of Cumberland we are told, that at the extremity of a lane extending about 300 yards northwards from the village, there is a large fosse or double ditch, where an iron chain went across the road, and was locked every night, called Barras Gate, made as a defence against the frequent incursions of the Scots or moss-troopers. The entrance on the east, we are told, had a similar defence, and the whole parish was surrounded with a strong earth fence and deep ditch, called the Ring Fence. There was a tradition, he tells us, current in the neighbourhood, that on one occasion, a mosstrooper, while reconnoitering near Barras Gate, was pierced by an arrow, which nailed him to the saddle, shot by a yeoman named Wilson, from a distance of 400 yards. One of our most eminent authorities on the antiquities of Cumberland, the late R.S. Ferguson, Esq., assigns a very different origin to these bars and gates. The bar or ditch was the ''fence" or boundary line between the enclosed land and common, and the chains which were stretched across the road were only the preventative of the cattle straying away during the night and entering the village or perhaps the inclosed land. The oak tree used to be pointed out in living memory, to which the chain closing the Fauld Gate was hooked.

The Church is an ancient structure of unknown dedication. Nor has the date of its foundation been preserved, though its rectors can be traced back in a broken line to 1303. The style is Norman, and the stones are supposed to have been taken from the Roman Wall, about four miles distant, as on some of them may be traced the chisel marks of the Roman masons. Whilst the plaster was being removed from the walls of the chancel, the ancient piscina was discovered. In the Valor of Pope Nicholas, taken in 1292, the church of Orton is valued at 8, and in the King's Book it is recorded as worth 9. In 1795 the living was certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 140 per annum. The tithes have been commuted. Including 70 acres of glebe land, the incumbency is now worth about 280 per annum. The first entry in the register is dated 1858 [sic; registers date from 1568 (baptisms and burials) and 1569 (marriages)]. In 1868 the church was enlarged by the addition of the Sunday School; one and a half acres of land were added to the churchyard and a new chancel window and stone pulpit placed in the church. In 1886 the edifice was thoroughly restored. The altar is very beautiful, and stands on a base of marble mosaic work designed by the present vicar. There are three fine stained glass windows, inserted by members of the congregation. The living, styled a rectory, is in the patronage of Sir M.H. Brisco, and is held by the Rev. W.F. Gilbanks, who was inducted in 1883.

The present school was built in 1859 by Sir Wastel Brisco, and purchased by the School Board in 1874 for the sum of 500. It is one of the recipients under the will of the late Thomas Pattinson dated 1785, of the sum of 3 17s. per annum, which is now expended in prizes, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners. The average attendance numbers about 75.

The old school was taught for nearly half a century by Richard Dixon, who, amidst all the petty annoyances and irritating circumstances incidental to the life of a pedagogue, always exhibited such a buoyancy of spirit, that he was known throughout the parish as "Happy Dick." He died in 1811, and his long and faithful life is commemorated by the following inscription on his tomb:-

"Seven times seven years he taught this school
And canvassed many a tedious rule;
Five times seven years, as you may mark,
He served here as parish clerk.
 He was a just and upright man,
As far as we his life could scan;
But now he rests "beneath this clod,
Till called upon to meet his God"

The Parish Room is a galvanised iron structure, erected in 1899. It also serves the purpose of a reading-room and class-room.

The Right Reverend Dr. Nicholson, Bishop of Carlisle, was a native of this parish. A more extended notice of him will be found in the history of Carlisle.

BALDWIN HOLME township comprises about 2,415 acres, of which the gross estimated rental is 2,934, the ratable value of the land 2,039, and of the buildings 598. The principal landowners are Nicholas Thompson, Esq., John Twentyman, Herbert Hayes, John Harrison, and J.B. Watson. The township contains a small village of its own name, and also Orton Rigg, Little Orton, and Woodhouses. Orton Park, formerly called Hylton Castle, is a beautiful mansion, erected in 1839 by Sir Wastel Brisco. It is now the residence of Mr. N. Thompson, who purchased the estate in 1880. Tempest Tower is the name of a farmhouse in Little Orton, erected by James and Ruth Sibson in 1875. The stone tower, with its battlemented parapet, is a conspicuous object for miles around.




Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman