|Anciently called Kirk-Levington, extends about 11
miles on the south-side of the river Line, and is 2 miles in breadth; bounded on the west
by Rockcliff, on the south by Stanwix, Scaleby, and Walton, and on the east by Stapleton.
The soil varies greatly, the east point being a cold, wet, and barren clay, whilst a loamy
and fertile soil prevails in other parts, producing excellent crops of wheat, oats,
potatoes, &c. Its situation is nearly level, having only a small inclination to the
north-west. The houses are scattered, at short distances from each other, except in
Westlinton quarter, where there are a few small hamlets. Here are several quarries of
freestone, and in the river Line is an abundance of various kinds of fish. The parish
comprises 11,290 acres, and is divided into the three townships of Hethersgill, Middle
quarter, and West Linton, which in 1841, contained 1901 inhabitants. The number of
rateable acres is 9478, and the rateable value is £9117 12s. The parish has undergone
great improvements within the last 27 years; and it is expected that a branch of the
Caledonian railway will pass through it, by which the neighbourhood will be much
Kirklinton hamlet, situated 4 miles E by S. of Longtown, and 9 miles N.N.E. of Carlisle, is partly in the Middle and partly in Hethersgill township, the church being in the former, and the hall and rectory house in the latter. The old church, which stood here, was of the earliest style of Norman architecture, and is supposed to have been built by Richard de Boyvil, afterwards de Levington, probably in the time of Rufus or Henry I. It originally consisted of a nave, north and south aisles, chancel and tower, the latter being evidently intended as a place of defence.
The present edifice, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, occupies the site of the nave and north aisle of the old church, and was erected in 1845, at a cost of about £1060, contributed chiefly by gentlemen who were pupils of the Rev. Thomas Pattinson, late rector of this parish. It is a handsome red freestone structure, in the pure gothic style of architecture, and consists of a nave, chancel, porch, and embattled tower, with buttresses. The interior presents a chaste and elegant appearance; the triplet window of the chancel, which is of beautiful stained glass, with figures of our redeemer, the evangelists, &c., was presented by J. M. Strachan, Esq., who, as guardian of Joseph Dacre, Esq., was patron till the day on which the church was consecrated, when the latter attained his majority. Several interesting remains of the old fabric are preserved, among which are a Norman arch; specimens of the old pillars and arches, bearing evident marks of fire, the silicious part of the stone standing out in relief; fragments of ancient tomb stones, one of which has saxon devices, and hieroglyphics; a perfect specimen of the top of an early English window, with a cusp, two ancient horizontal tomb stones, each having a florid cross, &c., an ancient piscina, several Roman stones, doubtless taken from the Roman wall, which supplied a great proportion of the materials in nearly all the border churches, castles, &c. In clearing for the foundation of the tower, 60 human skeletons were found buried within a little space of each other. The benefice is as rectory, valued in the king's books at £1 1s., but is now nearly £100 a year, viz., £52 9s. rent charge, as commuted in 1839, a modus formerly paid in money in lieu of tithes; £10 derived from glebe land, the interest of £1110 obtained from Queen Anne's bounty; and is enjoyed by the Rev. George Bell, who has a very commodious and pleasantly situated rectory house, contiguous to the church, erected in 1839, at a cost of £500. He also performs divine service every Sunday afternoon at Blackford school1, which is licensed for that purpose; and near the rectory is a Sunday school, erected in 1840, at a cost of £150, raised by subscription. Robert Atkinson, clerk of this parish, has filled that office for the last 54 years.
The barony of Levington was granted, in the time of the Conqueror, by Ranulph de Meschines, to Richard Boyvil, whose posterity took the local name de Levington and settled here; but the chief of the family resided at Kirklinton, and a younger branch at Westlinton. After the reign of Henry III, the manor of Kirklinton, which includes the townships of Hethersgill and Middle Quarter, passed to six co-heiresses, whose representatives sold it to the Musgraves, of whom it was purchased by Edmund Appleby, who espoused Dorothy, sole heiress of the Dacres, of Lanercost, in consequence of which his son Joseph took the name of Dacre, and his descendants have since held this manor. "The parishes of Skelton and Orton anciently formed part of the now divided barony of Levington." Kirklinton Hall, in Hethersgill township, formerly the seat of the Dacre family, is now occupied by John Holmes, Esq. It is a fine edifice, on a slight eminence, surrounded by stately trees. The remains of an ancient castle, once a strong fortress, supposed to have been the seat of Richard de Boyvil, may be traced, at the distance of a few hundred yards. It commanded an extensive prospect, along the beautiful vale of Line, to Solway Frith2; and the sea is said to have once flowed up this vale nearly to the present hall, where numerous foundations of buildings have been discovered, from which it has been conjectured that a town or port stood here. Kirklinton Park, also in Hethersgill township, is the residence of H. Patrickson, Esq.
Hethersgill township contains 799 inhabitants, and a small village, situated six miles N W. of Brampton. It was long the seat of the Hetheringtons, a very ancient border family; amongst whom were several persons of distinction in their day and generation. One of them gave a large sum of money to found a charity for the relief of the blind.
At Shaw Foot is a school, endowed with £10 a year by the late John Lamb, of Newtown, Carlisle; and the other charities are :- 18s. a year left by Mrs. Usher, and 18s. left in 1834, by the Rev. Mr. Pattinson, together with £1 16s. to the poor widows of the parish. At Sikeside is a meeting house belonging to the Society of Friends, bearing date 1736, and they have a burial ground at Meggs, in the Middle township. The Wesleyans have a chapel at Ullermire, built in 1833.
Thomas Sanderson, the "Sebergham bard and Kirkland recluse;" author of several excellent poems and essays, and an "Ode to the genius of Cumberland," was burnt to death in his cottage, at Shields, amongst his manuscripts and books, in 1829.
The Principal landowners of the township are Hugh Patrickson, Esq., Mr. George Graham, Mr. John Bowman, and Mrs. C. J. Graham.
Middle township contains 2580 acres, rated at £2882 12s , mostly belonging to Jas. Fawcett, John Feather, Christopher Graham, and Francis Story, Esqs., and Mrs. C. J. Graham. Alstonby, the neat villa of John Feather, Esq., is situate in this township, as is also Fergus hill Cottage3, the rural retreat of Mrs. Yule, whose late husband, John Yule, Esq., made great improvements in this neighbourhood, and to whose agricultural skill and taste the whole of the Netherby estate is much indebted. In Milltown wood are interred the remains of Dr. Graham, formerly a physician at Carlisle, distinguished for his genius and eccentricity, who, agreeably to his own request, was buried here at midnight. The place of his interment is fenced with iron palisades and planted with evergreens.
Westlinton is a small village, situated at Line Bridge, 2½ miles S. of Longtown, and 5½ miles N. of Carlisle. Its township contains 2388 acres, rated at £2705 10s., and the largest owners of the soil are Thomas Irwin, Esq., Joseph Bell, Esq., and Mrs. C. J. Graham, but the earl of Lonsdale is lord of the manor. Justus Town, a mile W. of the village, is the residence of Mr. Robert Henderson. Newtown-off-Rockliff4 is a small village in this township, 4½ miles N.N.W. of Carlisle.
Biography - George Graham, who was born at Horsegill, in 1675, was a celebrated clock and watch maker, invented several valuable instruments, for astronomical observations, and communicated many useful discoveries to the Royal Society, of which he was a member; he died in 1715. Thomas Story, who was born in Justus town, about 1670, was intended for the church, but, joining himself to the Society of Friends, travelled much in England and America. In 1715, he returned to his paternal estate in Justus town, having imported several species of foreign trees. He died in 1742, and his works, on various subjects, were published by his executors, in a large folio volume.
Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847
1. Blackford - a chapel was built here in 1870.
2. Solway Frith - now Solway Firth.
3. Carolyn Richardson (personal communication) has advised me that the home of John Yule was Fergushill, and is distinct from Fergus Hill Cottage, which is nearby.
4. Justus Town is now Justicetown, and Newtown-off-Rockliff is now rendered Newtown of Rockliffe.
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman