Kirkby-Thore Parish


Is bounded on the north by Crowdundale-beck1 and Newbiggin, on the south by Long-Marton parish, on the east by that of Dufton, and on the west by the river Eden. The soil is generally fertile and in a good state of cultivation, except at its western extremity, where there is a mountainous tract, comprising Dun-fell and Milburn Forest2, bordering upon the source of the river Tees, to the north of which is Cross Fell, in Cumberland. Near the river is a sandy loam, disposed in rich pastures, and the higher grounds have a loamy mixture of gravel and clay. The parish contains two Chapels of Ease, viz., Milburn and Temple-Sowerby, and is divided into the three townships of Kirkby-Thore, Milburn and Milburn Grange, and Temple-Sowerby. The commons were enclosed in 1812, and the rateable value of the parish is upwards of £7,000.

KIRKBY-THORE VILLAGE occupies a pleasant situation near the confluence of the Eden and Troutbeck3, four miles and three quarters, N.W. of Appleby, partly on the road to Penrith, and consists of three clusters of buildings, some of which are neat edifices. It is sometimes spelt Kirkby Thure, and derived its name from a temple which stood here, dedicated to that great idol of the ancient Saxons, Thor, whom they regarded as the god of thunder, and whom they worshipped every Thursday. In the reign of King Stephen, this manor was held by one Welph, whose descendants assumed the local name. They gave several parcels of land here to the Abbey of Holme Cultram, in Cumberland, and held the manor till the reign of Henry VI, when part of it passed to a younger branch of the Whartons, and part to the family of Pudsey. The former resided at Kirkby-Thore, from the year 1477, till about the middle of the 18th century, when the male issue failed, and the manor is now the property of Thomas Barrett Leonard, Esq., M.P., for Maldon, except a small portion which is held of the rector. The courts were anciently held in the ancient Manor House, but are now held at the Spread Eagle, before the lord's steward.

Kirkby-Thore township contains about 2427A, the rateable value of which is £2592 15s. 1d. According to Mr. Machell, the hall and a great part of the village were built out of the ruins of Welph Castle, which stood on the rising ground, now called Burwens, where many antiquities have been dug up, but the site of this once extensive fortress has long been cultivated. Its area is said to have been 160 yards in diameter. Camden supposes Kirkby-Thore to have been the Gallagum, mentioned by Ptolemy, and called
by Antonius, Gallatum, which, Horsley, with more probability, fixes at Appleby. In 1697, Mr. Machell found a four-fold wall here, made of hewn stone, each wall, being two feet four inches thick. Several arched vaults were also discovered, lead pipes, &c, and an altar inscribed FORTINĘ SERVAT RICI. He also discovered near the bridge and the great Roman road, an ancient well, containing urns, curious earthen vessels, the cusp of a spear, and sandals, all described in the philosophical transactions April 20th, 1684. Horsley read an inscription found here, thus - "Deo Belacucadro4 libentur Votum fecit Iolus." Several other Roman antiquities, discovered here at different times, are now in the possession of John Crosby, Esq. About eighty years ago the horn of a moose deer was found buried, four feet below the surface, near the junction of the Troutbeck and Eden, and in sinking for the foundation of the New Bridge, in 1838, many Roman coins, with various inscriptions upon them, were dug up by the workmen. In the township is a freehold estate denominated the Spittle, said to have appertained to some religious house; and near the village is a spring, called Potts Well, of a sulphureous nature, supposed to rise from a bed of alabaster, lying at a great depth below the surface.

The CHURCH is an ancient fabric dedicated to St. Michael. The great bell, in the tower is supposed to have been brought hither from Shap Abbey, soon after the dissolution of that religious house, and is said to be the largest in the county, "but hath been burst long ago."  The benefice is a rectory in the patronage of the Earl of Thanet, as the descendant of Robert de Veteripont, who purchased it in the 13th century, of the lords of the manor. It is valued in the King's books at £37 19s. 8½d., but is now worth upwards of £700 per annum, arising from 667 acres of land, of which sixty four are ancient glebe, and the rest was allotted to the rectory at the enclosure, as a commutation for the great and small tithes. The Rev. C. H. Barham is the present rector, having recently exchanged livings with the Rev. Gilbert Elliot, who was instituted in 1842; the Rev. Elias Tardy is the officiating minister. In the chapel is a mural monument bearing a lengthy Latin inscription, in memory of John Dalton, of Acornbank, who died April 13th., 1692, aged eighty-six years.

In the village is a Wesleyan Chapel erected about fifty years ago, on land given by Mr. Thomas Crosby. The School was endowed in 1823, with the interest of £20, bequeathed by Mr. John Horn, and now vested in a turn-pike road. Hogarth, the celebrated painter, is supposed to have been born at Kirkby-Thore5, or neighbourhood.

MILBURN forms a joint township and chapelry with Milburn Grange, and contains a village of its own name, three miles N. by E. of Kirkby-Thore, and six miles N. by W. of Appleby. King John granted the forest of Milburne to William de Stuteville, one of whose successors granted the same to Robert de Veteripont, who gave the Grange to Shap Abbey. In 1310, Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, held this manor of the Cliffords, except the parts previously granted the abbey. It subsequently passed into a branch of the family of Roger de Lancastre, and was afterwards held by the Crackenthorps, Sandfords, Honeywoods, one of whom, Philip Honeywood, Esq., Lieutenant-General of the British forces, sold it in 1780, to the Earl of Thanet, who is now lord of the whole manor, except the Kirkhouse estate, which is held of the rector of Kirkby-Thore. Howgill Castle, the ancient manor house, now occupied by a farmer, stands half a mile S.E. of the village, and commands a varied and extensive prospect. It was successively occupied by the knightly families of Crackenthorp and Sandford, from whom it passed, as before stated, to the Honeywoods of Mark's Hall, in Essex. Some of the walls are ten feet and a half thick, and underneath the dwelling are arched vaults and cellars. At the South end of Dun Fell is a large entrenchment, called Castle Green, near which an altar was found inscribed Deo Silvano. "Amongst the mountains at the east end of the township, coal is seen peeping through the surface; and lead ore discovers itself in the banks of the rivulets."

The Parochial Chapelry is a very ancient Gothic edifice, on the Kirkhouse estate. The living is a perpetual curacy in the patronage of the Earl of Thanet, and incumbency of the Rev. John Wharton. In 1752, Sackville, Earl of Thanet, gave £600, and the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, £400, for the joint benefit of this chapel and that of Temple Sowerby; to be paid out of land which was purchased at Firbank, Howgill, near Sedbergh, and Dillicar, now let for about £100 per annum, besides which the curates of these chapels receive a yearly rent of £20 each, from the rector. This chapel was again augmented in 1762 with £400, with which land was purchased at Bolton, now let for about £30 a year. In 1838, the tithes of the chapelry were commuted for an annual rent charge of £100. There was anciently a chantry at Milburn, which seems to have been intended as an augmentation to the chapel, for the abbot and convent had to pay £4 a year to a chantry priest out of the property given to Shap Abbey by Robert de Veteripont. In 1767, the school was endowed with the interest of £100, by Sarah Atkinson, who also left the interest of £10 to the poor of this township, who have likewise the interest of another £10 left in 1775, by Mr. Thomas Jackson.

Gullom Holme is a small hamlet in this township, two miles and three quarters N. of Kirkby-Thore; and Milburn Grange is a village one mile and a half E. of Milburn. The quantity of land in the township is 7879A. 3R. 8P., of which 4758 acres are unenclosed, and its rateable value is £1297 6s. 8d.

TEMPLE-SOWERBY is a large and well built village pleasantly situated at the confluence of the Eden and Crowdundle Beck, on the Penrith road, six and a half miles N.W. of Appleby. It consists of two spacious streets, in which are many good houses, and three inns. Two important fairs for sheep and cattle are held here annually, on the last Thursday in January, February, and March, on the second Thursday in May, and last in October. They were established about forty years ago. Temple-Sowerby received its present name from that chivalrous fraternity, the knights Templars, to whom the manor anciently belonged. They were first established by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, for the defence of the Holy Sepulchre, and the protection of christian pilgrims; but after the destruction of Jerusalem, they spread themselves all over Europe, and received for their great valour and exploits, numerous privileges and immunities. They were first established in England by King Stephen, in A.D. 1135, and Henry II granted them, amongst other privileges, exemption from tolls throughout the whole realm, and this privilege is still claimed and exercised by the present lord and tenants of the manor. They were dissolved in 1312, and their possessions transferred to the Knights Hospitallers, who possessed this manor till the fatal dissolution of all the religious houses by Henry VIII, who, in 1545, granted "the whole manor of Temple-Sowerby, with the appurtenances, excepting the mines of coal and lead, in Westmorland and Cumberland, late the property of the priory of St. John, of Jerusalem, and parcel of the possessions of the late preceptor of the mount of St. John Baptist, Co. York," to Thomas Dalton, Esq., in whose family it continued, till carried in marriage to William Norton, Esq., and subsequently to a Mr. Edmondson. It afterwards passed to William Hodgson, Esq., whose sister carried it in marriage to John Boazman, Esq., of Aycliff, county Durham, who was succeeded by his son, the late John Boazman, Esq., whose son, of the same name, has not yet attained his majority. Acorn Bank, the manor house, is a handsome country seat, near the village, but is at present unoccupied. Not many years ago, a curious dial was  found on the Fallowfield property in this township. It was purchased by Andrew Craig, Esq., trustee of the late John Boazman, and is now at Mill Rigg, formerly one of the residences of the Dalstons. The square stone block upon which it stands bears on one side the initials J. F., for John Fallowfield,* and the arms of that family; and on another the inscription - Dial loquitur: "Stay, passenger, tell me thy name and my nature?  Passenger: "Thy name is Dial, I a mortal creature." On the opposite side the dial again speaks "Since my name and thy nature so agree; think on thyself when thou looks upon me."

The enclosed land is 1176A. 3R. 1p., rated at £1808 5s., and amongst the largest owners of the soil are Geo. Gibson, Esq., and Mr. John Bond.

The PAROCHIAL CHAPEL is a handsome fabric of red sandstone, with a square tower and portico, in the centre of the village. It was formerly very small but was rebuilt and enlarged by Sir William Dalston about the year 1770; the inhabitants being at the expense of carrying the stone from Crowdundle. The clock was given in 1807, by the lady of the manor. "In the year 1338 there is an entry in the bishop's register of a confirmation of an old award made by Ralph de Irton, Bishop of Carlisle, between the parishioners of Kirkby-Thore, and the inhabitants of Temple-Sowerby; whereby it is declared that the latter are and shall be (as they have ever been) free from contributing anything towards the repairs of the church, belfry, or churchyard walks, at Kirkby-Thore, saving that if hereafter it shall be thought necessary to enlarge the nave or body of the church they shall then bear a third part of the expense." The curacy was augmented in 1752, in connection with that of Milburn, and of the land then purchased the Dary Bank estate, in Firbank, is allotted to this benefice, which is in the patronage of the Earl of Thanet, and incumbency of the Rev. Robert Harrison, who greatly improved the estate. The living was again augmented in 1762, with £400, including an allotment of eight acres, awarded at the enclosure; beside which the curate has also an annual stipend of 20s. from the rector of the parish." The tithes of the chapelry are now commuted for a yearly rent charge of £155 previous to which the tithes of corn, potatoes, and turnips, was paid in kind, but a modus of 10s. a year was paid in lieu of the hay tithe.

In 1692, Richard Lowes left an acre and rood of land, now let for about £5 a year, to the poor orphans and widows belonging to the village of Temple-Sowerby.

"The Eden bridge, below Temple-Sowerby, was rebuilt in 1575, by subscription of the principal inhabitants, but being carried away by an inundation in 1743, the present structure was erected by the county, at an expence of £550."


* John Dalston, who died in 1692, married a daughter of Richard Fallowfield of Melkinthorp.


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




1.  Now Crowdundle Beck.
2.  Now Great Dun Fell; Milburn Forest is yet another of Cumbria's "forests" by inherited name only, it being practically treeless.
3.  Now Trout Beck.
4. Should probably read "Belatucadro", Belatucadrus being a well-attested minor god in Cumbria.
5. Assuming William Hogarth is intended, a modern reference work says he was from London.
6. Acorn Bank gardens are open to the public; the gardens are mainly devoted to culinary and medicinal plants.

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman