Brough Parish


This parish is about eight miles in length and five in breadth; bounded on the east by Yorkshire, on the west by Great Musgrave parish, on the north by the lofty fells of Hilbeck1, Warcop, Dow Crags, &c., and on the south by the parish of Kirkby-Stephen. Except the central portion of it, which is tolerably fertile, it is a wild, mountainous, and heathy region, rich only in the valuable minerals of lead, limestone, and freestone, with some coal. The Earl of Thanet is lord of all the manors in the pariah, except Hilbeck, of which he is paramount lord. (See Hilbeck.)

It was anciently a chapelry under Kirkby-Stephen, and consists of the townships of Church Brough, Brough Sowerby, and Hilbeck, and of the chapelry of Stainmore, and in 1841 contained a population of 1694 souls.

BROUGH is a small ancient market town, consisting principally of one long street, and situated on the great road from London to Glasgow, four miles N. by E. of Kirkby-Stephen, and eight miles E.S.E. of Appleby. It is called Brough upon Stainmore, (a borough under a stony mountain,) to distinguish it from many other places of the same name, and was the old Verterę of the Romans, who, in the decline of their empire, as we learn from the Notitia, had a prefect with a company of Directores stationed here. Brough was the central town on the Maiden Way between Lavatrę, (Bowes, in Yorkshire,) and Brovacum2 (Brougham). There was also a small Roman fort at Maiden Castle, four miles E. of Brough, and another at Rere Cross, on the eastern limit of the parish in Stainmore township, beyond which, in Yorkshire, there was formerly an hospital3 for the entertainment of "way-faring people," passing over the dreary wastes of Stainmore, across which a blind man, named Joseph Horn, frequently went as guide, with strangers, from Brough to Bowes, before the present road was formed. The northern part of the town is called Market Brough, and the southern portion
Church Brough, in the latter of which, upon a lofty eminence, are the venerable ruins of Brough Castle, anciently one of the residences of the Veteriponts and Cliffords. This castle is supposed to have been built soon after the Norman conquest on the site of a Roman fortress, but was dismantled probably by the Scots, in 1177. On John de Veteripont, son of Robert, attaining his majority, it was found by inquisition, that "the tower of Brough was decayed, the joints rotten, and most of the house (or castle) gone to nought."

On a large stone which, about seventy years ago, stood above the gateway, was the following inscription:- "This Castle of Brough, under Stanemore, and the great tower of it, was repaired by Lady Anne Clifford4, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery; Baroness Clifford, Westmorland and Vesey; High Sheriff, by inheritance, of the county of Westmorland, and lady of the honour of Skipton, in Craven, in the year of our Lord God 1659; so as she came to lie in it herself for a little while in September, 1661, after it had lain ruinous, without timber or any covering, ever since the year 1521, when it was burnt by a casual fire." In 1695, Thomas, Earl of Thanet, demolished the castle and sold the timber, but the walls of Cęsar's Tower, stood nearly perfect till 1792, when the bottom part of the south east comer fell down, leaving the upper part suspended without any other support than the cement of the wall parallel with it. The ruins have since suffered greatly from neglect and stealth, great quantities having been taken away for the erection of stables, garden walls, &c., "So that what is left presents a kind of venerable magnificence, the very ruins adding to the solemnity of the prospect." It is to be hoped, however, that the present Earl of Thanet will endeavour to preserve the remainder of this once stately mansion of his ancestors from further decay. There was found near the castle, about sixty years ago, an urn full of Roman silver coins, in high preservation, especially one bearing a fine impression of the head of Titus Vespasian, and on the reverse, a female figure in a weeping posture, representing as was supposed, the city of Jerusalem, which that
emperor destroyed. Many other Roman coins, brooches, jewellers' working tools, &c., have since been discovered in the bed of the river, near the castle.

The Church is a large, handsome, edifice, dedicated to St. Michael, and is remarkable for its pulpit, which was supposed, until about two years ago, to have been cut out of one entire stone fixed against the south wall, and having beneath it a wooden reading desk. The steeple was built in 1513, and contains four excellent bells, said to have been given by a yeoman, named Brunskill. The windows contain many fine specimens of ancient painted glass, "but have been greatly disfigured by modern repairs, and the insertion of oblong instead of diamond shaped panes." In 1344, this church was appropriated by Pope Clement VI., to the provost and scholars of Queen's College, Oxford, who are still the patrons, and had previously received a grant of the advowson from Edward III, at the instance of his chaplain, Robert Eaglesfield, who was presented to the rectory of Brough, by that king, in 1332, and subsequently became confessor to Edward and his Queen Philippa. He was born at Allerby, in the parish of Aspatria, Cumberland, and descended of an ancient family who held the manor of Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth, for many generations. In 1340, he bequeathed all his lands to Queen's College, which was founded for one master and twelve fellows, to be chosen from Westmorland and Cumberland. The Vicarage is valued in the king's books, at £8. 18s. 9d., but is now worth upwards of £700 per annum, and is enjoyed by the Rev. Lancelot Jefferson, M.A.

Though monumental inscriptions do not come within the limits of our work, yet the following, which is in the chancel of this church, to the memory of the Rev. Francis Thompson, who was instituted to the living in 1702, appears worthy of a place:-

"Dear to the wise and good, by all approved,
The joy of virtue and heaven's well-beloved;
His life inspired with every better art,
A learned head, clear soul, and honest heart.
Each science chose his breast her favourite seat,
Each language, but the language of deceit,
Severe his virtues, yet his manners kind,
A manly form and a seraphic mind.
So long he walked in virtue's even road,
In him at length 'twas natural to do good:
Like Eden, his old age (a Sabbath rest)
Flow'd without noise, yet all around him blest;
His patron Jesus, with no titles graced,
But that blest title, a good parish priest.
Peace with his ashes dwell, and mortals know,
The saints above, and dust alone below -
The wise and good shall pay their tribute here,
The modest tribute of one thought and tear;
The pensive sigh, and say 'to me be given,
By living thus on earth, to reign in heaven.' "

In the reign of Henry III, Thomas de Musgrave founded a chantry in the church, and endowed it with certain lands and tenements. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and where the altar stood was called our Lady's aisle, near to which was a small quire, called the closet, belonging to the Blenkinsops, of Hillbeck. In 1506, John Brunskill founded, at Market Brough, a chapel, or oratory, which was dedicated on the Blessed Virgin, and St. Gabriel. It was endowed by Thomas Blenkinsop, of
Hillbeck, with a piece of ground called Gibgarth, on condition that the said John Brunskill, should build an hospital "with two beds in it for travellers and other poor people; maintain and repair the same for ever." Two priests were established in this chapel, one to instruct the children in singing and the other to teach grammar. When the chapel and its hospital were dissolved, the priest who taught singing, was removed; but the other, who taught grammar, was retained as the first master of the Free School, on
which the king's commissioners settled £7. 11s. 4d. per annum,which sum is still paid by the receiver-general of the crown, to the master, who has also a garden which lets for 10s. a year. In 1786, it was endowed with £400 by Philip Waller, but this has been lost.

The Wesleyans, Independents, Primitive Methodists, and Baptists, have each a chapel in the town; the former erected about fifty years ago, and the Independent chapel in 1824, by Mr. Charles Davis. The Baptist chapel was built a few years ago, by Mr. Philip Robinson.

A Temperance Society was established here in 1843. The ancient custom of carrying the Holly Tree, on the twelfth night, is still continued. This custom was originally instituted as a religious ceremony, and was intended to typify the star which guided the wise men of the east to the manger at Bethlehem; but, like many other religious customs of our forefathers, it has been perverted, and the tree is now carried about from one public house to another, until nearly all is consumed away, when a "pulling
match " ensues, several of the publicans promising drink to such of the contending parties as should bring it to their respective houses. In this "pulling" many a competitor comes off minus his coat or hat, and the affair ends in drunkenness and immorality. O tempora, O mores !!

MARKETS AND FAIRS - In 1331, Robert Lord Clifford obtained a royal charter from Edward III for a weekly market to be held at Brough, on Thursday, with an annual fair, to continue four days, and to commence two days before the feast of St. Matthew. The market is still held on Thursday, "but it is not in such a prosperous state as the great celebrated fair held at Brough Hill, two miles N. by W. of the town, on September 30th, and October 1st, when that extensive common is crowded with people, booths, stalls of woollen cloth, and other merchandize, and immense quantities of horses, sheep, and cattle." This fair was established in 1329, but it is not supposed to have been very extensive before the year 1700, as it is not noticed either in Hollinshed's Chronicles, published in 1577, or Camden's Britannia, published in 1586. Three annual fairs are held in the town, on the second Thursday in March and April, and the Thursday before Whitsuntide, for cattle, sheep, &c

BROUGH SOWERBY township has a village one mile and a half S. of Brough, on the Kirkby-Stephen road, and its rateable value is £1,726. 7s. Mr. Cleasby, of London, and the Rev. John Dickinson, are the largest landowners of this township, but the Earl of Thanet is lord of the manor.

HILLBECK is a hamlet, township, and manor, one mile north of Brough, at the foot of Hillbeck Fell, and a range of lofty limestone scars, extending east and west. In all records it is called Hillebeck, "not from any infernal idea" - the Saxon word helle signifying merely the pouring down of water, which often tumbles from the mountains here over rocky and broken channels with tremendous fury. This manor, which has been all along held under the hereditary high sheriffs of the county, belonged for a considerable time to a knightly family of its own name, whose heiress, in the reign of Edward II, carried it to the Blenkinsops, who held it, or at least a portion of it, for fourteen generations. In 1635, Thomas Blenkinsop sold part of the manor to Richard Barton, clerk, and in 1656 he conveyed the residue to Thomas Burton, Esq., his son, who was one of Oliver Cromwell's sequestrators. The Blenkinsops, being Catholics, suffered much from the diabolical laws which were put in vigorous operation against those who adhered to the ancient faith. Thomas was living in 1676, when an account of the family was taken by the Rev. T. Machell, of Kirkby Thore, who has described him as a venerable good looking old gentleman. His son, Francis, succeeded to what was left of the family estates, but he sold the hall and demesne to Major Scaife, another of Cromwell's sequestrators. The Blenkinsops had twenty-two tenants at Hillbeck, who paid a fineable rent of £19. 12s. 9d.; twenty-five tenants at Brough, with a fineable rent of £11. 5s. 10d.; and amongst their tenants they had fifty-three boon days shearing, twenty-one boon days mowing, all but one in Hillbeck, and forty-one loads of boon coals. The Black Bull Inn, Brough, was the court-house for their tenants in that manor. The Earl of Clarendon, as inferior lord under the Earl of Thanet, now holds the nominal rights, which had previously passed through various hands, since sold by the Blenkinsops. The Earl of Clarendon married the widow of John Barham, Esq., who purchased this estate of Joseph Pitt, Esq. John Metcalf Carlton, Esq., who possessed the property about forty years ago, built an unsuccessful cotton mill, near the hall, which was created in 1776, by the same spirited but unfortunate gentleman. On an eminence near the hall is Fox Tower, also built by Mr. Carlton, commanding an extensive view, and contiguous to this some coal has been found. The hall is a large building on an eminence, and is now occupied by Mr. Jermy5 Taylor.

STAINMORE township and chapelry is divided into the two districts of Augill Row and Mousgill Row, and contains many scattered hamlet and houses dispersed in deep and narrow gills and thwaites, in which the traveller while passing the intervening wastes and heathy moorlands, is surprised to see stretched out before him, fruitful pastures margined by small rivulets, which hurry over rocky channels from the surrounding fells, where sterility wears her wildest and most forbidding aspect. In the township is a prolific lead mine and smelt mill, erected in 1843, with some collieries and limestone quarries. The lead mines are situated in a secluded and romantic vale, one mile and a half from Brough, and are very advantageously wrought, the machinery by which they are worked being exceedingly complete. Mr. Philip Robinson is managing partner to the company. Here are likewise situated Rere Cross or Recross, and Maiden Castle. Various reasons have been assigned for the erection of this Cross, (a remnant of which was to be seen in Dr. Burn's time,) but the most probable one is that which attributes its creation to William the Conqueror, and Malcolm, king of Scotland, between whom a dispute arose shortly after the conquest, when the former "Sent his sonne, called Robert, with a great power into Northumberland, who remayning a long season in campe, neare the river Tine, attempted no notable enterprise, saving that he repayred and newly fortified the town of Newcastle, which standethe upon the ryver Tine, and then at length a peace was concluded between the two kings, under these conditions, that King Malcolm shoulde enjoy the part of Northumberland which lyeth betwixt Tweede, Cumberland, and Stainmore, and to do homage, to the King of England for the same," and that "in the midst of Stainmore there shalt be a cross set up, with the King of England's image on the one side, and the King of Scotland's on the other, to signifie that the one is marche to England and the other to Scotland."

THE CHAPEL AND FREE SCHOOL. - The Chapel of Ease holds a central situation, three and a half miles S.E. of Brough, and formerly served also for the free school, being originally built for the latter purpose, in 1594, and endowed by Cuthbert Buckle with £8 a year, to be paid out of the Spittle estate,* to the schoolmaster. The school-house, which the inhabitants had built, was consecrated as a chapel in 1608, and was, in 1699, repaired by Thomas, Earl of Thanet, who built the present school-house, adjoining to it. The Earl also enclosed a large parcel of waste land, called Slapestones, and granted the same to fourteen trustees, for the benefit of the curate and schoolmaster, who now derive from it upward of £50 a year, and have also the above-mentioned rent charge divided between them. The said earl also gave £200, and the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty £200, with which the Raisgill Hall estate, in Orton parish, was purchased and annexed to the curacy. It consisted of forty acres, but at the enclosure was increased to eighty acres, now let for about £30 a year.

The curacy afterwards received £200 from the Countess Dowager Gower, and another £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty, with which an estate of thirty acres, near the chapel, was purchased, and is now occupied by the incumbent, the Rev. James Sawrey, who is also schoolmaster.

The chapel, which was rebuilt in 1842, by the Earl of Thanet, the patron of the living, is a neat edifice, with a small turret and one bell. The interior is elegantly fitted up, and the chapel is calculated to seat about 130 hearers. The parsonage house was erected in 1837, by the present incumbent, in a pleasant situation, commanding an extensive western view. New books for the use of the chapel have been recently presented by the Rev. Lancelot Jefferson. Here is a Primitive Methodist Chapel, erected about eighteen years ago.

AUGILL ROW is that part of Stainmore chapelry lying north of the Augill-beck, and extending from one and a half to six miles E. of Brough. In this division is a large estate called Borrenthwaite, belonging to Mr. Michael Ewbanke, and containing rich pastures and meadow land; the hamlet of Light Trees, three miles and a half S.E. of Brough, where thus are seams of coal; Park Houses, one mile and a half E. of Church Brough, where there was formerly a park, belonging to the castle, and Dummah Hill, where there is a good public-house, are all in Augill Row division.

Augill Castle, about one mile east of Brough, the seat and property of John B. Pearson, Esq., is an extensive Gothic building in the abbey style of architecture, with six massive towers, - four at the front and two at the west end. The conservatory is forty yards long, and the open cloister of the same length, has a splendid grained ceiling, copied from Copperas Hill Catholic Church, and St. Luke's Protestant Church, Liverpool. In the main tower, which is twenty-one yards in height, is a spacious staircase
twelve feet broad, with one of the most splendid windows in the north of England, designed from Melrose Abbey, in Scotland. The doors of the drawing-room are in the decorated style of architecture, and its chimney-piece, which is of beautiful white marble, cost 100 guineas. The library and its stained glass window, are designed from those at Abbotsford6. In this window are the armorial bearings of the Pearsons, in the centre of which is St. Peter, holding a key in each hand. This castellated mansion, was commenced in 1841, by its present occupant, and takes its name from the rivulet which runs a little to the north of the building. The view of the Cumberland mountains, which is obtained from the summit of its main tower is truly magnificent.

MOUSGILL ROW is the southern portion of Stainmore chapelry, stretching from two and a half to seven miles S.E. of Brough, and containing the hamlets of Ewbank, four miles and a half S.E.; Strice Gill7, two miles and a half S.E.; and Oxenthwaite, two miles and a half, S.S.E. of Brough. The latter stands on a lofty eminence, and in the deep dale below it is some rich grazing land.

The whole of Stainmore forest is not in the parish of Brough, the southern portion of it being in that of Kirkby-Stephen, and the eastern portion in the parish of Bowes, in Yorkshire. Sir Daniel Fleming calls it "a high, hilly, and solitary country, which, because it is stony, is called in our language Stane-moor," now corrupted to Stainmore. "This manor, as well as Brough, Sowerby, and many others, has continued all along in the hands of the Veteriponts, Cliffords, and their descendants, having never been granted out to any inferior lords." The Earl of Thanet's bailiff and forester for this district, is Mr. George Henry Bailey.

At Black Cragg, oyster, cockle, and muscle shells have been found imbedded two feet in the solid rock.

Sir Cuthbert Buckle, who was born in Stainmore, was lord mayor of London in 1593. He gave a handsome reading desk to Brough Church, and built the bridge at Stainmore, still bearing the name of Buckle Bridge. William Thompson, author of the poem on "Sickness," in four books, and of other political poems, was born at Brough.

* Spittle was formerly a charitable institution for the accommodation of wayfaring people, but, after the dissolution was converted into an inn.


Mannix & Co.,History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland, 1851




1. Also referred to elsewhere as Hillbeck, and today as Helbeck.
2. More usually Brocavum.
3. We get "hospitality" from the same root. The term used today for one of these hostelries is "mansio".
4. This remarkabe woman restored many castles and churches. Her story is told in "Proud Northern Lady", by Martin Holmes, 1984, ISBN 0 85033 225 7.
5. Presumably a mis-spelling for Jeremy.
6. Home of Sir Walter Scott, near Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.
7. Now Ewebank and Stricegill.

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman