Wetheral Parish

  > Extends about six miles on both sides of the Eden, in a most picturesque part of the vale of that river, and averages from 1 to 3 miles in breadth, being bounded on the east by the parishes of Hayton and Cumwhitton, on the west by St. Cuthbert's and St. Mary's, on the north by Warwick, and on the south by Leath Ward. According to a survey made in 1842, the parish contains 11426 acres, of the rateable value of 12,181* and its population in 1841 was returned at 2806 souls. It comprises the four townships of Great Corby and Warwick Bridge, Cumwhinton and Coathill1, Scotby, and Wetheral. The soil is in general fertile, and well cultivated. In Scotby and Wetheral is a mixture of clay and sand, capable of growing any kind of grain; in Coathill there is a strong loamy soil. Cumwhinton is more sandy and warmer, and in Great Corby and Warwick Bridge township, the soil is also a mixture of sand and loam, except part of the enclosed common, which is cold and wet. Red freestone is found here in abundance, and at Coathill are two quarries of alabaster, or gypsum.

wetheral3.jpg (30295 bytes)Wetheral township has a pleasant village, picturesquely situated on the abruptly descending banks of the Eden, 4 miles E.S.E. of Carlisle. The Eden2 is crossed here by a magnificent bridge, consisting of 5 semi-circular arches of 80 feet span each, and raised to an elevation of 99 feet above the level of the water. It was commenced in 1830, and finished in 1834, and bears a tablet to the memory of the late Henry Howard, Esq. of Corby Castle3, who laid its foundation. A little below is another splendid bridge across the Corby Beck, 480 feet in length, and consisting of 7 semi-circular arches of 40 feet span each. The township contains 4458 acres, rated at 3796 10s. and the principal land owners are the Rev. Thos. Stainton, Mr. Michael Collin, and Mr. Wm. Robinson, but Messrs. Isaac Lawson, Joseph Slack, Christopher Wannop, and a few others have small estates here.

A little to the south of the village are the remains of Wetheral Priory or Abbey, consisting only of a tower, with a fine elliptical arch;wetheral4.jpg (27449 bytes) the rest of this sacred structure being demolished many years ago, by the dean and chapter , who erected a prebendal house, &c. at Carlisle, with the materials, although the late Mr. Howard generously offered a sufficient compensation if they would allow the ruins to remain as they then stood. It was founded in 1088, by Ranulph de Meschines, for eight Benedictine monks, and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, St. Mary, and St. Constantine, but being an inferior house under the abbey of St. Mary's in York, it is supposed the monastery did not possess much ornament. The abbey received with it the church manor and cells of Wetheral, the mill, fishery, wood, and chapel of Warwick, with two bovates of land in Corby. This grant, with several others, was confirmed by Henry I, who gave to it pannage for swine in his forest, without paying the usual forest dues. Soon after its foundation, the priory was richly endowed by a numerous list of benefactors, and received many privileges and immunities, from Richard I. Its revenues were, in 1535, rated by Dugdale at 117 11s. 10d., and by Speed, at 128 5s. 3d. In 1539, it was surrendered by Ralph Hartley, its last prior, to Henry VIII, who, in 1542, granted it to the dean and chapter of Carlisle. The manor of Wetheral was sold by the commissioners of Oliver Cromwell, for 1044 5s. 1d., but on the restoration of king Charles, it was recovered by the dean and chapter, and is now held of them either by leasehold or customary tenants. Excavated in the face of a perpendicular rock, 40 feet above the water of Eden, at a short distance from the abbey ruins, are St. Constantine's Cells, said to have been formed by Constantine, a younger son of one of the Scottish monarchs, who died here an hermit. Subsequently they acquired the name of safeguard, from the neighbouring monks and other inhabitants, who frequently fled hither as a place of security, when the ferocious moss-troopers were plundering and despoiling the surrounding country. These cells are divided into three apartments, having each a separate window, and being about 7 yards in length, 3 in breadth, and 3 in height, with a chimney in the middle to serve all the apartments. A stratum of rock, about 8 feet below the floor of the cells, serves as a foundation for the wall which is built before them, and which makes the gallery, and reaches a little above, with a door at one end, through which, in former times, the cells are supposed to have been approached by a ladder or plank drawn up after them by the refugees for greater security. It is even now difficult of access, though a flight of steps has been made to communicate with the narrow path beneath leading to the cells. "It is probable," says Hutchinson, "that since these cells were made, part of the roof has fallen, where it is constantly washed away by the river; that the whole was originally concealed by trees, much wood yet growing in every chink of the precipice; and that it was lately (1795) opened out in order to be viewed from the walks of Corby." The following inscription is still on the same rock, a little higher up the river -


Opposite the cells, on the Corby side of the river, is a full length carved figure, in stone, of St. Constantine, standing on a pedestal, and looking towards the caves: this figure was placed here in 1843, by Mr. Howard. A little up the river stands Wetheral tower, built in the gothic style, with turrets, by the late Miss Waugh, of Carlisle, as a summer house.

wetheral1.jpg (25842 bytes)Wetheral Church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is a neat gothic structure, of the early English style of architecture, consisting of a nave, chancel, side aisles, and a tower. An addition of a handsome Gothic chapel was made to it, in 1791, by Henry Howard, Esq., on the foundation of his family place of sepulchre; and here are interred the mortal remains of Sir Francis Howard, second son of lord William Howard, of Naworth, and all his successors and their wives, down to the late Henry Howard, Esq., who erected in this Mausoleum a most superb and costly monument to the memory of the Hon. Maria, daughter of Andrew the last Baron Archer, his first wife, whom it represents supported by the figure of religion, and sustaining in her arms the infant to which she had just given birth. This exquisite piece of sculpture, executed by Nollekens, excites the admiration of all who see it, and was declared by that eminent virtuoso, R. Knight, before the House of Commons, to be the finest piece of sculpture executed in England, and partook most of the delicate proportions and matchless contour of the work of the ancients. Here is also another elegant monument to the memory of the Hon. Adeliza Maria, (wife of the Hon. Henry Petre) who died in 1833. It consists of a full length composition figure of her in the act of kneeling on a cushion, at prayer. There is also a neat marble tablet to the memory of the before mentioned Henry Howard, Esq. As has been stated, the perpetual curacies of Wetheral and Warwick are united in the same patronage and incumbency, but an effort is now being made to disunite them, and have a separate clergyman for each. The tithes were commuted in 1844, for a yearly rent charge of 1062, and the curacy of both is worth about 150 a year, arising out of the interest of 1300 Parliamentary grant, 52 given out of the tithes, and 48 given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The late Rev. Edw. Stanger, B.D. enjoyed this living for upward of fifty years; and he has just been succeeded by the Revd. Charles Vansittart, who is now incumbent of both parishes. The Parsonage-House is a good building, near the church, and was erected in 1714, by the Revd. Edwd. Tong, the patrons and appropriators only contributing 25 towards its erection: attached to it is a small piece of ground. On a slight eminence near Wetheral stands the neat mansion of Geo. Elliot, Esq. called Eden Bank, delightfully situated nearly opposite Corby Castle, and commanding fine views of the Scotch hills, Crossfell, &c., and the beautiful vale of Eden. It was built in 1834, by Mr. Elliot, who is ornamenting the grounds, &c.

Wetheral School - In 1760, Thomas Graham left, for educating poor children of Wetheral quarter, 60, which by an accumulation of interest has increased to 65. This sum was expended in the purchase of a cottage and garden, now yielding about 4 a year, which, with about three roods of land, allotted upon an enclosure worth 10s. a year, is paid to a schoolmaster, who, on that account, instructs a few labourers' children of Wetheral.

Great Corby and Warwick Bridge form a joint township containing 2747 acres, of the rateable value of 3640, mostly the property of P.H. Howard, Esq. M.P. of Corby Castle, and Peter Dixon, Esq., of Holme Eden. Corby is a pleasant village, on the east side of the Eden, five miles E.S.E. of Carlisle. The population of Corby and Warwick Bridge, in 1831, was 1285. The Manor of Corby was one of the dependant manors of Gilsland Barony, and together with Warwick, was given to Odard, the first lord of Corby, by Hubert de Vallibus. (See Warwick). After the death of Robert, son of William, son of Odard, Adam de Chorkby, Knight, was lord of this manor, and in the 31st of Edward I it was possessed by Thomas de Richmont. "In the 16th Edward II Rowland de Richmond released the same to Sir Andrew de Harcla, earl of Carlisle," on whose attainder it escheated to the crown, and in 1337, was granted by Edward III to Richard de Salkeld, Knt. one of the benefactors of Wetheral Priory. His son, Hugh, married the heiress of Rosgill, in Westmorland, and his son John, settled at Corby, and had issue Richard Salkeld, Knt. who left five daughters, of whom Catherine and Mary possessed the Corby estate, and carried it in marriage to the Salkelds, of Whitehall, and to the Blenkinsops, of Holbeck, who enjoyed their several moieties for five generations. It was then sold in 1606 and 1624 to Lord William Howard, third son of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, who had Naworth Castle in marriage with Elizabeth, one of the sisters of George, lord Dacre. "By his said wife he had six sons and two daughters. The sons were, 1, Sir Philip Howard, from whom the earl of Carlisle is descended; 2, Sir Francis Howard, to whom he gave Corby; 3, Sir Charles Howard, of Croglin Hall; 4, col. Thomas Howard, who was slain in 1643, at Piercebridge; 5, Sir Wm. Howard, who died without issue; 6, Robert Howard." One of the daughters was married to Sir John Winter, and the other to Sir Thomas Cotton, Bart.

 Sir Francis Howard, Knt. fixed his residence at Corby Castle, and was succeeded by his eldest son Francis, who, says Sandford, "was a great house-keeper and house courser, and in all jovial gallantries expert, and beloved of all men," and possessed of an estate which descended to his brother William, and from him to his son Thomas, who died in 1740, and by his second wife left issue a son, Philip, and two daughters, both nuns. Philip Howard, Esq. who died in 1810, demised his estates to the late Henry Howard, Esq. who was born in 1757, and died in 1842, when he was succeeded by his son, the present Philip Henry Howard, Esq. M.P. The late Henry Howard, Esq. was distinguished for his liberality in the encouragement of literacy and all other laudable institutions, and the same generous feeling is manifestly inherited by his son, who has lately enfranchised all his tenants, so that the land is now all freehold, except two small lots. The boon services, &c. have been discontinued long since.

Corby Castle, the beautiful seat of Philip Henry Howard, Esq. M.P. is situated on the brink of a precipitous cliff, impending the river Eden, near the village of Great Corby, five miles E.S.E. of Carlisle -

"-----------------bosom'd high
In nature's sylvan majesty."

The present elegant mansion occupies the site of a more ancient castle, and, in part, consists of the very walls of a large square tower of one of the marsh fortresses. It stands in the midst of scenery of great grandeur. The lofty hills which descend precipitately on every side, clothed with stately trees, the thousand beauties which here adorn the Eden, where amidst the hanging shades and groves of oak, bold rocks put forth their shades of rugged fronts, and lift up their prominent brows with imposing dignity, and where every turn and avenue affords a rich sylvan scene, are the delight and admiration of every visitor to this part of the kingdom. The beautiful scenery of the pleasure grounds has been most admirably kept up by plantations and other improvements, whilst fresh charms have been elicited by the taste and judgement of its late proprietors, who greatly enriched the picturesque beauties of this delightful spot, where at almost every step the visitor is struck with some new object, particularly in the walks on the margins of the Eden, which retain as much of their originality as could be preserved, and are shaded with lofty trees, where a number of caves and grotesque apartments have been scooped with considerable labour and great taste. Two caverns, nearly adjoining, are kept in a continual state of dampness, from the incessant droppings of water from the roof and jutting rock, which rises to a great height above the entrance. A singular colossal statue, of unknown origin, stands beneath a lofty rock, nearly opposite the salmon weirs which have been erected, and which afford an easy communication with a long wooded island in the middle of the river. The walks are continued for a considerable distance up the Eden, and afford a great variety of rich prospects and pleasing solitudes. To the north-west of the house a terrace is stretched along the summit of the cliff, overlooked with thick groves which close the declivities and the brink of the river, and commanding a fine view of its course. Among the sylvan ornaments of this romantic spot, are many venerable oaks, with a variety of foreign trees and shrubs.

The public are admitted to the grounds on Wednesdays, during the summer months, and strangers at all times; and after viewing the scenes here presented, every admirer of the picturesque and sublime, must exclaim, with Relph4 :-

"For Paradise's seat, no more
Let trav'llers search on Persia's shore;
Its groves still flourishing appear
Upon the east of Eden here."

The following lines, written by David Hume,5 about the year 1750, on a window of the Bush Inn6, at Carlisle, were communicated to Mr. Howard by Sir Walter Scott. They are said to have been done in a splenetic fit produced by the bad fare he met with :

"Here chicks in eggs for breakfast sprawl,
Here godless boys God's glories squall,
While rebels' heads adorn the wall;
But Corby's walks atone for all."

 Part of the old mansion was taken down in 1812, and an elegant front, with a superb suite of rooms, rebuilt by the late Henry Howard, Esq. All the old walls of the castle are more than six feet thick. The apartments are elegantly furnished, and contain many fine paintings and antique relics; amongst the latter of which are a massive gold chain, worn by Mary, queen of Scots; a square tablet, dug out of the ruins of Hyde Abbey, near Winchester, inscribed, "Alfredus Rex, 881;" and the claymore of major Macdonald, the Fergus M'Ivor of Waverley. In the library is a picture of Charles V and his empress, by Titian. This valuable picture was bequeathed, by a friend in Flanders, to the Rev. John Howard; general of the order of Benedictines , and great great uncle to the present P.H. Howard, Esq. There are also several other paintings of great merit, in the collection at Corby Castle, amongst which may be mentioned a full length portrait of lord William Howard; with many others of the Howard family. Here is also a full length portrait of Charles II; paintings of the Holy Family, St. Catherine; St. Agnes; the Virgin and Child; the Crucifixion; two children; an allegorical representation of the blessed sacrament; two views on the Gulf of Sorento; a very fine carving of the Judgement of Paris; the celebrated group, the Lion and Horse, in bronze; a flagon in ivory, carved in alto relievo; the Grace cup of Thomas Becket, &c. &c.

The school at Corby was endowed in 1720, with 25 acres of land, now let for 19 a year; besides which, the master has a neat house and garden, the former being erected by the trustees, in 1845. The late Henry Howard, Esq. endowed this school with two 100 shares in the Newcastle and Carlisle railway, now yielding about 5 per cent, so that the endowment of the school at present amounts to about 38 per annum, for which the children are instructed at a small quarterage. The trustees of the late bequest are Peter Dixon, Esq. Mr. Wm. Morley, Mr. John E. Hall, Mr. Wm. Robinson, and Mr. Thos. Bowman, all, except Mr. Dixon, of Great Corby village.

Warwick Bridge is a good village, situate on the east side of the Eden, 4 miles east of Carlisle. Here are the extensive dye works and cotton mill of Peter Dixon & Sons, at which about 320 hands are constantly employed. Near this village, on the south banks of the Eden, stands Holme Eden, the beautiful seat of Peter Dixon, Esq. This splendid mansion was erected in 1833, in the Tudor style of architecture, under the superintendence of Mr. Jas. Stewart, of Carlisle. It has a porch tower and court yard; on the east and south sides are terrace walls; and the whole pile is surmounted by numerous turrets. The corridor is beautifully ornamented by figures in stucco, of the royal lineage from the Tudors to our time. It is built of cut red sand stone from the neighbouring quarries; but the grand staircase, including the balustrade, is of free stone. The pleasure grounds are being laid out with great taste and elegance. About half a mile from the house is a very neat church, consisting of nave and chancel, with a spiral tower, 110 feet high. This sacred edifice, which is in the evangelical Norman style, was erected in 1846, at the sole expense of P. Dixon, Esq., who also endowed it, and built a parsonage house adjoining, which is now occupied by the Rev. Henry Nembherd, the incumbent. The east window is of handsome stained glass, by Mr. John Scott, of Carlisle; and contains a representation of the Lord's Supper: the west window contains a full length figure of St. Paul, to whom the church is dedicated. Mr. John Dobson, of Newcastle, was the architect both of the church and mansion.

Here is also, in a delightful situation on an eminence, a beautiful Catholic church, erected in 1841, from the design of that celebrated ecclesiastical architect, A.W. Pugin, Esq. It is in the first pointed style of architecture, and consists of a nave, chancel, south porch, and vestry, with an open bell turret. The chancel is chastely and elegantly diapered in gold and colours; and there is a carved chancel screen dividing the chancel from the nave, and supporting the rood or figure of our crucified Redeemer, together with that of his virgin mother, and beloved disciple, St. John. All the windows are of stained glass, by Harrington, of London, and were presented by P.H. Howard, Esq., who also presented the organ which was built by Hill, of London. The pulpit is of cut stone, and every device is carved out in detail so admirably, that it is considered a good specimen of a small parish church of the 13th century. In the adjoining garden is a neat presbytery, with a porch; and on the south western side of the grounds, is a carved stone sepulchral cross on steps. The church was built chiefly out of the endowment left for this catholic mission, by the last of the Warwick family. The Rev. William Ryan is the present pastor.

Cumwhinton and Coathill, two villages, the former 3;, and the latter 5 miles S.E. of Carlisle, form a joint township, containing 2549 acres, rated at 2411 chiefly belonging to resident yeomen, the largest of whom are Mr. John Coulson and Mr. James Holme, of Cumwhinton and Messrs. Bell and Wm. Holme of Coathill. There are two quarries of gypsum at Coathill, and at Cumwhinton is a neat school, built by subscription, and a Methodist chapel. The population in 1831 was 575.

The manor is divided among various proprietors, some parts being leasehold, under the duke of Devonshire, and others customary, under the dean and chapter of Carlisle; also under the owner of Armathwaite castle, and the descendants of Miss Aglionby. It was anciently called Cumbquinton, and about 3 miles E. of it, on the opposite bank of the Eden, is the village of Cumwhitton.

Scotby is a pleasant village, with several neat mansions, 2 miles E. by S. of Carlisle. The township contains 1672 acres, of the rateable value of 2333 10s. and the principal land owners are David Hodgson, Esq. of Liverpool, Mr. Elihu Sutton, of Scotby, and Mrs. Bond, of Rosehill. Here are situate the tannery and currying establishment of Mr. Wm. Sutton, at which about 30 persons are in constant employment. Mr. Sutton has recently made considerable additions to these premises, and built several houses adjoining, for his workmen; he also built a news room here, which he gives rent free, and to which he has presented a library of about 100 vols. The news room has now about 40 members, who pay 2d. each per week. Mr. George Bewley is treasurer, and Mr. John Graham is secretary. Population in 1831, 397.

Here is a Friends' meeting house, and also a school, endowed with 9 acres of land, now let for 18 per annum, which, with 1 8s. 6d. a year, as the interest of 60 obtained for a small portion of the land, and a subscription, makes 19 8s. 6d. For this sum the master teaches at a small quarterage, and the average number of children is about 60. Mr. Thomas Graham is the present master. This manor is copyhold under the duke of Devonshire.

Wheelbarrow hall is a hamlet in this township, near which is Rosehill, the handsome residence of Mrs. Bond. From a tombstone in Wetheral church yard it appears that Holme Park is the proper name of this place, and that its present somewhat singular appellation has been given to it only by the vulgar. We would respectfully suggest that the sooner its original name is resumed, the better7.

* Hutchinson says that in 1794, the rental of the parish was only estimated at about 5000 and that the poor rates were collected by the pound rent, "amounting yearly to 140."


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




1. Coathill is now rendered Cotehill, Crossfell is Cross Fell.
2. The description of the bridges is interpolated here from a different section of the book.
3. "Corby Castle - one of the marsh fortresses" - this must mean one of the march fortresses. In previous centuries, the English and Scottish border lands had each been divided into 3 "marches", with a "marcher lord" appointed by the king.
4. Relph is the Rev. Josiah Relph, a Cumberland poet, 1712-1743.
5. David Hume, Scottish philosopher, 1711-1776.
6. The Bush Inn no longer exists.
7. Despite the protestations about Wheelbarrow Hall, the name still applies. In fact the author's comments about the name are ill-founded. Wheelbarrow Hall is mentioned at least twice in the marriage register for Stanwix parish, for the years 1736 and 1737, and so had been in common use for over a century when they made their remarks.

Photos Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman