Skelton

Is comprised within Leath ward and petty sessional division; the deanery of Penrith W.; the county council electoral division of Hesket; and the union, and rural and county court districts of Penrith. It is bounded by the parishes of Greystoke, Hutton-in-the-Forest, Newton Reigny, and Castle Sowerby; and extends from north to south about five miles, and from east to west two miles. The area of the parish is returned at 7,417 acres; the gross estimated rental, 7,072; the ratable value of the land, 5,024 10s.; and the ratable value of the buildings, 1,332 10s. The inhabitants, who number 735, are chiefly employed in agriculture, and attend the Penrith markets. The parish comprises the three townships of Skelton, Lamonby, and Unthank.

SKELTON township contains 2,155 acres, of which the gross rental is 2,505 12s.; the ratable value of the land being 1,704; and of the buildings, 546. Skelton, probably a contraction of Scaletown, is supposed to have derived its name from a Norse word, signifying a cattle shed or shepherd's hut. The Manor belonged, in the 12th century, to the Boyvilles, who were also lords of Levington and Kirkandrews-upon-Esk. The last male heir of this line, Randolph de Levington, left a daughter, the wife of Sir Eustace Baliol, Knt., but she dying without issue, the estates of the three lordships were divided among her six aunts, the sisters of her father. The manorial privileges are now vested in Sir Henry R. Vane, Bart., the Duke of Devonshire, and H.C. Howard, by right of inheritance. The tenure is freehold and customary; the latter being subject to a 20d. fine certain. The principal landowners are Sir H. R. Vane, Bart.; the Trustees of the late F. Carleton Cowper, Esq.; J.C. Toppin, Esq.; the Rector, Mrs. Mary Clark, and Mr. Joseph Grindle. The village of Skelton occupies a pleasant situation on an eminence 750 feet above the level of the sea, and six miles N.W. of Penrith.

The Church is rectorial, and was for a long time enveloped in uncertainty as to its dedication. According to Bishop Nicholson it was under the patronage of St. Mary, while Dr. Todd placed it under the invocation of St. Michael. Upon one of two bells which formerly belonged to the church was the following inscription:- Ave Maria gratia plena (Hail Mary full of grace), and upon the other, Sancta Michael ora pro nobis (St. Michael pray for us); from which a dual patronage was inferred by many, but thanks to the painstaking researches of the late Rev. Hy. Whitehead, the dedication is now affirmed to be beyond all doubt, to St. Michael and All Angels. The church formerly contained a richly endowed chantry, under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the Reformation the chantry lands were granted by Edward VI, to "Ward, Venables, and others." Edward I, in his journey to Scotland, seems to have visited the church, where he made an offering at the altar amounting to 7s. In the reign of Henry VIII, the living was valued at 43 2s. 8d.; it is now worth 270. The rectory was long attached to the manor, but in 1607 the advowson was sold by Francis Southaik, Esq., to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the master and scholars of which have since exercised the patronage. The tithes were commuted in 1840 for a yearly rent charge of 110. The present incumbent is the Rev. J. Sharpe Ostle, M.A., Cambridge. The old church was taken down and the present structure erected in 1879. It is a substantial edifice, but with the exception perhaps of a picturesque tower, without any pretensions to architectural beauty. A beautiful memorial window has recently been placed in the east end of the chancel by Mrs. Carleton Cowper. It is of stained-glass of a "thousand colours" letting in streams of light which bathe the church in that dim religious glow so conducive to prayer and meditation. The subject is a composition from the Revelations of St. John, beautiful alike in conception as in execution. In the centre light Our Lord is represented as enthroned on high, supporting the Book of Life, whilst at His feet are kneeling the Dead. Under the group is a scroll bearing the words, Alleluia, Salvation and Glory, and Honour and Power, unto the Lord our God. An inscription at the bottom of the window tells us that it was inserted "To the Glory of God and in memory of F. Carleton Cowper, of Carleton Hall. Born Dec. 30th 1857, entered into peace Feb. 23rd 1898." A handsomely carved communion table of old oak has recently been placed in the chancel, the gift of Mrs. Moore, Penrith. A small brass plate bears the following inscription - "For the glory of God and in most loving remembrance of Frederick Carleton Cowper, of Carleton Hall, who passed to his rest Feb. 23rd. 1898, this altar table is given to St. Michael's Church, Skelton, by one to whom he had ever been as an own and only son."

The Parish School was first erected in 1750, pursuant to the will of Mr. Joseph Milner, who left 50 for that purpose; and in 1813, it was endowed by the Rev. Joseph Nelson, vicar of Riccall, in Yorkshire, with 1,000, with which was purchased 1,087 5s. 5d., two and a half per cent. consols. The school was rebuilt and enlarged in 1849 at a cost of nearly 300; and in 1881, a class-room was added, at a further expense of 85.

The Primitive Methodists have a chapel in the village, erected in 1865, at a cost of 113; and a Reading Room and library have long been established as a counter-blast to the bar parlour. A Floral and Horticultural Society was established in 1879, for the advancement of cottage gardening, and shows have since been held yearly.

CHARITIES - In 1584, Thomas Wilson granted an annuity of 20s. to the poor of the parish, to be given at the church door between the hours of eight and eleven on the Sunday next after the Annunciation (March 25th); and in 1735, Thomas Lawson bequeathed a like sum to be distributed on Good Friday. There is also the sum of 4 8s. 9d given on St. Thomas' Day, the interest of Dacre's Dole and Brougham's Gift. A sum of 10 left by John Pearson has been lost by the insolvency of the person in whose hands it was placed. The poor of this parish al so participate in the charity of Richardson, of Whamhead, bread to the value of 18s. being distributed at Christmas to the poor who attend church regularly.

LAMONBY and ELLONBY are two villages which give name to a township comprising 2,630 acres, of which the gross rental is 1,927; the ratable value of the land, 1,468; and of the buildings, 309. The manorial rights are held by the Trustees of the late F. Carleton Cowper, Esq. Lamonby Hall and Ellonby Hall are now converted into farmhouses, but the manorial courts still continue to be held at the latter. The principal landowners are Sir H.R. Vane, Bart., Mr. Joseph Grindal, Mrs. Kitchen, John S. Brown, and Joseph Watson. Lamonby is a village of scattered houses, nearly a mile in length, and situated about eight miles N. W. by W. of Penrith. The Primitive Methodists have a small chapel here, a very humble building, erected at a cost of 80; and the service of the Established Church is held in the school-room. Hardrigg Hall, now a farmhouse, was anciently the seat of the Southaiks, a family of distinction descended from Gilbert, son of Gospatric, of Workington . John Southaik, Esq., the last of the line, died about the commencement of the 17th century. There is still a large square tower remaining, which commands good views of the surrounding country.

UNTHANK is another village and township in this parish, containing 2,632 acres, the gross rental of which is 2,589; the ratable value of the land, 1,852; and of the buildings, 477 10s. The land is chiefly owned by Sir R.F. Vane, Bart., Mr. J. Armstrong, the Trustees of the late F. Carleton Cowper, Esq., Lord Brougham, C.J. Parker, Esq., and William Bell, Smallthwaite. Laithes is a small village in the township, four miles N.W. of Penrith.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman