45a. Kirkby Lonsdale (1)
Cumbria (ex Cumberland & Westmorland)
The historic market town of Kirkby Lonsdale was once in Westmorland, now part of Cumbria. Kirkby Lonsdale is a picturesque town set high up above the River Lune and in days gone by was accessed via the Devil's Bridge and Mill Brow. There many attractive old stone buildings from the late 17th century onwards. The history of the area goes back a long way e.g. the Neolithic stone circle on Casterton Fell and Celtic settlements have been found nearby at Barbon, Middleton and Hutton Roof. A Roman road followed the course of the River Lune, linking forts at Low Borrow Bridge (near Tebay) and Over Burrow (south of Kirkby Lonsdale). Kirkby Lonsdale became an crossing point over the River Lune where several drovers' and packhorse routes met.
Kirkby Lonsdale is one of the few Cumbrian towns mentioned in the Domesday Book, where it is described as Cherchibi (village with a church). The present church still retains parts of the Norman church. The Normans erected an artificial mound or motte on nearby glebe land on which a wooden tower or 'keep' would have been built, though in later years the mound was used for cockfighting, hence the current name of Cockpit Hill. In 1093, Ivo de Taillebois (Baron of Kendal) gifted the church at Kirkby Lonsdale to St Mary's Abbey in York, which held it until the Dissolution. Thereupon the Abbey and all its possessions, including St Mary's Church at Kirkby Lonsdale, were granted to Trinity College, Cambridge, which retains patronage to this day. In 1227 Kirkby Lonsdale gained a market charter and the right to hold an annual fair every September. Every week, stallholders would gather on Market Street to sell their wares, with horse traders in the Horsemarket and pig sellers in Swinemarket (both illustrated on this page) and on Thursdays the local community and visitors come to the market to buy all sorts of things including local food produce and craft products. The busy weekly market and lots of drovers and packhorse carriers created a bustling town with a large number of inns and ale houses to cater for this trade. By the early 19th century, the old Kirkby Lonsdale market area was becoming too congested for the volume of trade, so a new marketplace was built in 1822.
Some helpful maps of Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Market Cross in Swine Market, at the top of Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Swine Market (Swinemarket), Kirkby Lonsdale, with the tower of St Mary's Church in the distance.
Looking down Mill Brow from Swine Market,
The steep incline of Mill Brow (above) with
its fast-flowing (now culverted) stream was the industrial heart of
Kirkby Lonsdale, with several mills (See
River Lune walk) using water power for grinding corn,
bark and bone, carding wool, manufacturing snuff, making bobbins, fulling cloth and sawing timber.
The Keighley and Kendal Turnpike of 1753 passed through Kirkby Lonsdale
and there met a turnpike from Milnthorpe on the coast. Kirkby Lonsdale
railway station, 2 mile away in Lancashire was opened in 1861 but closed
to passengers in 1954 (well before Beaching!).
A view of the countryside surrounding Kirkby Lonsdale, from the top of Mill Brow.
Today, Kirkby Lonsdale bustles
with activity, with a weekly market, many local events and traditional
shops. The centre is a mix of elegant 18th-century buildings and older
17th century stone cottages huddled around cobbled courtyards and narrow
alleyways with names such as Salt Pie Lane and Jingling Lane (both
illustrated on this page). Motorbike enthusiasts meet every Sunday at
The Blue Pig on Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale, where we spent a few nights.
The top of Mill Brow with Horse Market (Horsemarket), Kirkby Lonsdale, on the right.
Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale
The 'Old Manor House' of Kirkby Lonsdale, low down on the left of the steep bank of Mill Row.
A fine looking house and a fine looking cat!
An overlooking cat!
The Georgian doorway of the 'Old Manor House' is dated 1700.
Salt Pie Lane off Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale
The Salt Pie Lane (ex Cattle Market Yard), connection with the nearby pubs, the 'Green Dragon' and the wonderfully named 'Snooty Fox' in Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Royal hotel on Market Square, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Market Square and shelter, Kirkby Lonsdale
Left: ? building on Market Square and, right, down Jingling Lane, where you find a 'Fish and Chips' shop in Kirkby Lonsdale
The Water Lily Chines takeaway on Market Square, Kirkby Lonsdale. To the right is the continuation of Main Street.
From Market Square, looking down Main Street towards the A65 main road, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Looking along Main Street towards Market Square, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Royal Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale, on Main Street - Market Square, New Road goes up on the left.
The quiet secluded St Mary's Court, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Sun Inn and looking down Market Street towards the top Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Left: The fine 18th century building of the Royal Hotel and, also on Market Square, on the corner of New Road and Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale and right, he licensed Crossing Point Cafe and The Sweet Shop.
Looking along Main Street towards Market Street from Market Square, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Lunedale Art and Framing and the independent Kircabi Roasters Coffee retailer on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The shelter Market Square, Kirkby Lonsdale.
? House and Horse Market, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Avanti restaurant, on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
Plato's on Mill Brow and the Snooty Fox on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Snooty Fox pub on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Italian Gardens Cafe & Restaurant on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Red Dragon pub on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The Red Dragon pub and the old district bank on Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The interior of the Blue Pig B&B on Mill Brow, Kirkby Lonsdale.
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