|Has a large village of its own name, containing several
neat houses, situated on the road from Alston to Penrith, 9 miles N.E. by E. of the
latter, and 10 miles S.W. by W. of the former town. Its parish, which is only two miles in
length and one in breadth, is bounded on the east by Hartside Fell, and on the
other sides by the parishes of Addingham and Ousby; and is supposed to have taken its name
from its having been the residence of Melmor, a Dane, about the ninth century. It contains
1630 acres, of the rateable value of £1216, and 329 inhabitants. Hartside Fell, which
rises to the height of 1300 feet above the village, is ascended by a gradual rise of one
foot in twenty; its surface is generally smooth, and affords good pasturage for sheep,
with limestone rock appearing in many places. A lead mine has been wrought here for
many years, but it is not very productive. In one part, above a spacious valley, rises
abruptly the bold front of a limestone rock, called Melmerby Scarr, which was once so
intermixed with lead ore, that the rays of the setting
sun falling upon it, caused it to be seen at a great distance. There are two mineral
springs in the parish, but neither of them is resorted to for medicinal purposes. The soil
in the lower and cultivated parts of the parish, is of a dry sandy nature, resting on a
red freestone rock, and producing good crops of oats, barley, and potatoes. The Rev. John
Hall, of Clifton, near Bristol, is lord of the manor, and owner of a great part of the
soil. One of the Pattensons obtained this manor about 150 years ago, by marriage with one
of the Threlkelds, who had it from the Purvings, in 1380, previous to which it had been a
parcel of the barony of Adam Fitz Swein.
Melmerby Hall, the ancient manorial seat, is now occupied by Richard Hardinge Hethorn, Esq. Gale Mall, now a farm house, belongs to the family of the late Henry Holme, Esq., and has a small manor annexed to it. The church, dedicated to St. John, is a small ancient fabric, consisting of a nave and chancel, with a bell turret. The living is a rectory, of which the Rev. John Hall, of Clifton, is patron, and the Rev. Robert. C. Pattinson is incumbent. It is valued in the king's books at £12 1s. 6d., but is now worth about £170 a year, besides 38 acres of glebe. The tithes have been commuted for £118 per annum. The Maiden Way1 crosses the eastern part of this parish, as also of the parishes of Ousby and Addingham. "It is still in some places above 18 feet broad, but almost impassable from great stones, the fragments perhaps of its original pavement." An annual feast is held here on July 5th.
Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847
1. The Maiden Way was a Roman road.
A reference to the Helm Wind, which is a feature of the Eden Valley villages west of the Pennines, has been omitted. See separate entry on the Helm Wind.
Photo © Steve Bulman.
30 April 2008
© Steve Bulman