Lanercost Abbey Parish

  > This large and picturesque district, which extends about ten miles in length from E. to W., and nine from N. to S. is bounded on the south and east by the river Irthing, on the north by the parish of Bewcastle, and on the west by the parishes of Walton and Stapleton. It is intersected by the Kingwater and several smaller streams, and is divided into the four manors of Lanercost, Askerton, Walton Wood, and Trodder-main, or Tryer-main1, of which the earl of Carlisle in lord; the tenants on the former paying a twenty-penny fine certain, on the death of the lord, or change; and those on the three latter, a fine of two years value on change, and a twenty-penny fine at the death of the lord - the only exception being Birkbush farm, in Askerton township, and one or two others. The great Roman wall ran through the township of Burtholme, in this parish, and portions of it, 11 feet high, the largest now remaining, may still be seen at Harehill, on the property of Mr. John Holmes, and also at Garth side, on the property of Mr. David Barnfather; the road through the small village of Banks is on its site. The celebrated Gilsland spas are in this parish, which is divided into the four townships of Askerton, Burtholme, Kingwater, and Waterhead, and, in 1841, contained a population of 1582 souls. The soil, in the low lands, is generally loamy and fertile; on the banks of the Irthing and Kingwater it rests upon limestone, and is very fruitful in the production of grain, except on the eastern side, bordering on Northumberland, where it is cold and sterile. The parish contains, according to the parliamentary return, 36,510 acres, and its rateable value is 12,767 16s.

lanercost.jpg (37588 bytes)Lanercost Priory, which, like most others of a similar character, is situated in a beautifully picturesque vale, gives the name of Abbey Lanercost to a small hamlet in Burtholme township. This fine ruin, which stands on the north bank of the river Irthing, 2 miles N.E. of Brampton, and 11 E.N.E. of Carlisle, excites the admiration of every beholder. It consists of the remains of the conventual church, part of the cloisters, and some of the walls of the refectory, and other buildings. The west end is used as the parish church; but the tower, chancel, and cross aisles have long been roofless, and on their delapidated Gothic walls grow a profusion of ivy, ash and other plants. At each end of the cross aisles are several tombs "richly sculptured with the arms of the Dacres and Howards, but, from exposure and neglect, are mutilated and moss-grown;" and in the adjoining field are the remains of the ancient sepulchral cross, apparently on its original site. In 1775, some person stole from the vaults a lead coffin, containing the remains of lord William Dacre, K.G., &c. &c. Hutchinson, who wrote in 1795, says - "We were told, by an old person living near the abbey, that some years ago one of the sepulchral vaults fell in, which excited his curiosity to view the remains deposited there, when he found several bodies entire; one in particular with a white beard down to his waist; but a few days reduced them to dust. The cemetery grounds which have been partly converted into gardens, contain many stone coffins and inscribed monuments. The gateway at the west end consists of a circular arch, supported by pilasters and richly ornamented; and in a niche above the entrance is a statue of Mary Magdalene, the tutular saint of the priory. On the 14th Sep., 1847, a portion of the roof immediately over the altar table fell in, but it is expected to be restored very shortly. The priory was founded in 1116, by Robert de Vallibus, for the reception of a prior and monks of the order of St. Augustine, and endowed by him with "all the lands laying between the Picts wall and Irthing." It subsequently received many other donations, and possessed, at the dissolution, a prior and seven canons, with a yearly income of 79 19s. In 1543, it was granted, with the adjacent lands, by Henry VIII, to Thomas Dacre, a descendant of the founder, reserving only the parish church and burial ground, with the house, stables, granary, and garden, called Uttergate, for the residence of the curate. This Thomas Dacre fitted up the conventual building for his residence, which was occupied by his descendants till they failed in male issue, and their heiress married Joseph Dacre, Esq., of Kirklinton, after which the priory reverted to the Crown, but has long been in the tenure of the earl of Carlisle, who is patron of the perpetual curacy of Lanercost. Eighty-four acres were allotted, in lieu of small tithes, at the enclosure, and the living, which is now worth 93 a year, has been augmented with 200 obtained from queen Anne's bounty; but the portion of the abbey buildings formerly occupied by the curate is no longer fit for the residence of a gentleman. The Rev. Isaac Dodgson, M.A., is the present incumbent of this living, and also of that of Upper Denton. At the Island is a school, to which lord Morpeth subscribes 8 a year, and Mr. Addison, of Banks house, and his brother, Dr. Addison, of London, 1 each, for which a certain number of children are taught at half the usual charge. 

Together with the hamlet of Burtholme, the township also contains the hamlet called the Island, and the chief part of the straggling village of Banks, which is about four miles N.E. of Brampton, and was formerly a distinct township, but is now divided between Burtholme and Waterhead. It still ranks as a separate constablewick. Banks House, the seat of John Addison, Esq., occupies a delightful situation, on an eminence, four miles N.E. of Brampton, and commands extensive and panoramic views. St. Mary's Holme, the property and occasional residence of Hugh Patrickson, Esq., is pleasantly situated in St. Mary's vale, on the banks of the Irthing, three miles N.E. of Brampton. Burtholme township contains 380 souls, and its rateable value is 2896 15s. The earl of Carlisle, John Addison, Esq., Hugh Patrickson, Esq., and Mr. Joseph Bell, are the principal owners of the soil.

Askerton extends between the rivers Line and Kingwater, from 4 to 6 miles north of Brampton, and contains 81 houses and 496 inhabitants. It comprises the ancient parish of Kirkcambeck, or Cambeck, the church of which was ruined by the Scotch, in the reign of Edward II, and has long since disappeared, save a small arch, or doorway, which still remains. It was rectorial, in the impropriation of the prior and convent of Carlisle; and the tithes continue to be leased out, by the dean and chapter, every 21 years, to a lessee, who "covenants to repair the church, and to provide an able and sufficient curate, and to allow him such a stipend as the ordinary shall appoint", but "not one tittle of those provisions are observed !" and though the inhabitants pay tithes for the support of a parish church and minister of their own, they are obliged to baptize, marry, and bury at Lanercost; "and for their instruction in religion they go thither, or to Stapleton or Bewcastle, or whither they think fit." Askerton Castle, now a farm house, stands on the east bank of the Cambeck rivulet, six miles N. by E. of Brampton. This ancient fortress is a small tower building, with lofty turrets, and is said to have been built, by the barons of Dacre, for the residence of the land sergeant of Gilsland, who commanded a few men in arms, to protect the barony against the incursions of the Moss-troopers. A little to the west is Knorren Lodge, the neat villa of the Misses Blackburn. The principal proprietor of Askerton is the earl of Carlisle, whose manor of Trodden-main, Tryer-main, or Trever-main, comprises the whole of this township, which is rated at 3313. 1s.

Kingwater township contains 390 inhabitants; and derives its name from the rivulet which flows to the Irthing, near Walton; being formed by the union of several mountain streams north of Gilsland. The hamlet of West Hall, about 5 miles N. by E. of Brampton, is in this township, which extends along a picturesque vale from 4 to 11 miles N.N.E. of the same town. There are upwards of 1400 acres of mossy waste land in the township, including the wild mountainous tract called Spadeadam Waste, which belongs to the earl of Carlisle, who, with John Ramshay, is the principal proprietor of the township. At Crowsgate is an unendowed school.

Waterhead township includes a portion of the village of Banks, from which it extends to Gilsland, where the river Irthing divides this county from Northumberland. Burdoswald, the Amboglana2 of the Romans, the extensive remains of which cover about 4 acres, is in this township; and about 2 miles distant is Gilsland, celebrated for its chalybeate and sulphurreted spas, which are situated in the romantic and highly picturesque vale of the Irthing, 10 miles E.N.E. of Brampton, 18 miles E.N.E of Carlisle, and one mile N. of the Rosehill station of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. Here is a very large and elegantly furnished Hotel, capable of accommodating from 80 to 90 persons; and the charge per day, for board and lodging, is only 6s. 9d., 5s. 3d., and 2s. 6d., for each person in the three different classes of visitors. The walks and scenery of Gilsland have been much improved by its late owner, Major Mounsey, and also by the present proprietor, Geo. Gill Mounsey, Esq. The summer residence, which the former erected near the hotel, is now used as a shooting lodge, by Wm. Marshall, Esq., M.P. Orchard House, the beautiful seat and property of George Shadforth, Esq., commands fine views of the picturesque scenery of the surrounding country. This fashionable watering place has been a favourite resort of the votaries of Hygea for above a century, and there are not many in the kingdom so bountifully gifted by nature. Here the man of science may botanize amid its shades, or ransack the mineral productions of a mountainous domain; the antiquary gratify his taste by exploring numerous remains of Roman, Saxon, or Gothic architecture, which exist in its vicinity; the valetudinarian regains his vigour; and the pleasurist find society and its concomitant gaieties. There are two spas, viz., a sulphurreted and a chalybeate, holding in solution sulphate of iron; the former has been in great estimation for a length of time, and springs into day on the west banks of the Irthing; and the latter, which was discovered about the year 1812, is situated at that point where the river alters its course to the south, and presents to the north-west a pleasing view of its rocky and sylvan banks. By an analyzation made by Dr. Clanny, it appears that these waters contain, in a wine gallon of each, the following gaseous and solid substances.





Sulphurreted hydrogen gas 17.0 Sulphate of iron 53.8116
Carbonic acid gas 6.2 Sulphate of lime 7.6024
Total gaseous fluid 23.2 Carbonate of magnesia 16.9592
    Silica 1.1696
Common salt 20.05864

Total solid matter

Carbonate of soda 4.50296    
Carbonate of lime 1.462    
Silica 1.1696    

Total solid matter



Waterhead township contains 57 houses and 366 inhabitants; and its rateable value is 3187 14s. The earl of Carlisle is the principal owner of the soil, which is mostly wet and cold, except on the banks of the Irthing, and on the north-west side of the township.


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847




1. Tryer-main is now rendered Triermain.
2. Burdoswald - now Birdoswald. For a description of the station Amboglana, see The Great Roman Wall.

Photo Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman