Skelton Parish

  > Is bounded by the parishes of Greystoke, Hutton, Newton-Reigny, and Castle-Sowerby, and extends about 5 miles N. to S. and 2 from E. to W. It contains 788 souls, and 6335 acres of rateable land, of the rateable value of 3253 5s. 10d. and the principal land owners are Sir Henry R. Vane, of Hutton Hall, John Cowper, Esq., of Carleton Hall, Mr. John Toppin, of Skelton, and Mr. George D. Armstrong, of Unthank; but the manorial rights, being divided in the 12th century between the three heiresses of the Royvill family, belong to Sir H.R. Vane, the duke of Devonshire, and Henry Howard, Esq. The soil is generally wet and cold, with a substratum of clay. In 1767, and Act of Parliament was obtained for enclosing the common, containing nearly 4000 acres. After the year 1775 a cairn was opened at Loaden-how1, in which were found two urns, with burnt bones, and a large sized skull. The parish contains the three townships of Skelton, Lamonby, and Unthank2.

Skelton is a neat compact village, pleasantly situated on an eminence, 6 miles N.W. of Penrith. The Church3, which is dedicated to St. Mary and St. Michael, is an ancient structure, consisting of a nave, chancel, and a square stone tower, with two bells. Upon one of the two bells which formerly belonged to the church. was the inscription Ave Maria gratiœ plena, and on the other, Sancte Michael ora pro nobis. The church was covered with blue slates, and thoroughly repaired in 1794. It formerly contained a richly endowed chantry, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but its possessions were granted by Edward VI to "Ward, Venables, and others." The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 43 2s. 8d. but is now worth 294 per annum. The tithes have been commuted for a yearly rent charge of 110. In 1607 the advowson was purchased by Corpus Christi College, Oxford; and the present rector is the Revd. John Dayman, M.A. The parish School was built in 1750, with 50 left by Joseph Milner, of Unthank, and in 1813, was endowed by the Rev. Joseph Nelson, late vicar of Riccall, in Yorkshire, with 1000 with which was purchased 1087 5s. 5d. of three per cent consols, yielding 32 6s. 10d. annually, for which the master teaches thirty free scholars. The school is now very efficiently conducted by Mr. John Brown, and the house is about to be rebuilt by subscription. In 1584, Thomas Wilson granted an annuity of 20s. to the poor of this parish, and in 1735, Thomas Lawson bequeathed a like sum to the poor, who have also the sum of 4 8s. divided amongst them regularly on St. Thomas' day, as the interest of Dacre's and Brougham's gifts. There was also the sum of 10 left by John Pearson, for the use of the poor of this parish, but it was lost about fifty years ago, in consequence of the insolvency of the person who had the money on interest. In 1846, a subscription library was originated here by Mr. W. Carrick, of Unthank House, and it is now progressing rapidly. Mr. J. Brown is the librarian.

Lamonby, a scattered village, nearly a mile in length, eight miles N.W. by W. of Penrith, is situated in its own township and manor, of which Sir H.R. Vane is lord. In this township is an excellent freestone quarry, and also the hamlet of Ellonby, one mile S.E. of the village, and seven miles N.W. of Penrith. Ellonby Hall and Lamonby Hall are now farm houses. The manor courts of Sir H.R. Vane are held here. Hardrigg Hall is also converted into a farm house, but was formerly the ancient seat of the family of Southaik, who descended from Gilbert, son of Gospatric, of Workington.

Unthank is another village and township in this parish, 5 miles N.W. of Penrith. The houses are detached at short distances from each other. Unthank House, the late family residence of the Cowper family, is now occupied by Mr. Wm. Carrick, surgeon, brother to the celebrated miniature painter. Laithes is a small village in this township. four miles N.W. of Penrith, and here is a very neat mansion, called Laithes House, the seat of James Parkin, Esq. 



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




1. Loaden-how is now Loaden Howe.
2. There is another Unthank near Dalston.
3. Skelton church was restored in 1879.

Skelton is chiefly of note today for the short-wave transmitters of the BBC. Link.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman