Kirkby Thore Index

East Ward Index

Kirkby –Thore Parish History

Is sometimes called Kirkby-Thure and is so spelt in the act passed in 1812 for enclosing the commons. It derives its name from a temple which anciently stood there, dedicated to that great Idol of the Pagan - Saxons Thor, the god of thunder, who was worshipped every Thursday.

It is bounded on the north by the Crowdundle beck and Newbiggin, on the west by the river Eden, on the south by Long Marton, and on the east by Dufton parish. The soil is various, but is generally fertile, being all in a good state of cultivation, except at its eastern extremity, where there is a mountainous tract, comprising Dun-Fell and Milbourn Forest, bordering upon the source of the river Tees, to the north of which is Cross-Fell, in Cumberland. Near the river is a sandy loam disposed in rich pastures; and the higher grounds have a loamy mixture of gravel and clay. The parish contains two Chapels of Ease and three townships of which the following is an enumeration, with the number of inhabitants in 1801, 1811 and 1821; and the estimated annual value of the lands and buildings in 1815.

Kirkby-Thore Parish












Annual Value









Milburn & Milburn Gr. Chp








Temple Sowerby..Chpy
















The three towns support their poor separately

Kirkby-Thore village consists of three clusters of buildings, pleasantly situated near the confluence of the Eden and Trout-beck, 4 ¾ miles NW. of Appleby, partly on the Penrith-road. Camden supposes it to have been the Gallagum, which Horsley, with more probability, fixes at Appleby, and proves this place to have been the Brovonacae of the Romans. The hall and a great part of the village, were built out of the ruins of Whelp Castle, which stood on the rising ground, now called Burwens, where many antiquities have been dug up, but the site of this once extensive fortress has long been ploughed and cultivated. Mr. Machel found here in 1687 a four-fold wall, with many arched vault, leaden pipes and an altar inscribed FORTVNAE SERVATRICI.

He also discovered near the bridge, and the great Roman-Road, an ancient well, containing urns, curious earthen vessels, the cusp of a spear, and sandals, all described in the Philosophical Transactions of 1684. Horsley read an inscription found here thus- "Deo Belatucadro libenter votum fecit Iolus" About 60 years ago the horn of a moose deer was found buried four feet below the surface, near the junction of Troutbeck and Eden. In the township is a freehold estate, called the Spittle, said to have belonged to some religious house. The Manor of Kirkby-Thore contains 2425A.2R. 10P of land, valued since the enclosure at £3,582 per annum. In the reign of Stephen, this manor was held by one Whelp, whose descendants assumed the local name and held the manor till the reign of Henry VI., after which it passed to a younger branch of the Whartons, who were so long seated at Wharton Hall ( see p.548 ) John Wharton, Esq., of Skelton Castle, in Cleveland, is the present lord of the manor, and owner of a great part of the soil.

The courts were formerly held in the ancient Manor-house, but are now held at the Spread Eagle Inn, before the lords agent, John Crosby, Esq., a respectable banker, who resides in the village, and transacts business at Appleby on Thursdays, and at Penrith on Tuesdays.

The Church is an ancient fabric, dedicated to St. Michael. The great bell in the tower was brought thither from Shap Abbey, and is said to be the largest in the county," but hath been burst long ago." The living is a rectory, in the patronage of the Earl of Thanet, and incumbency of the Rev. John Rippon, A.M., for whom the Rev.George Sim officiates. The living is valued in the kings books at £37 17s. 11d. but is now worth about £730 per annum, arising from 667 acres of land, of which 64 acres are ancient glege, and the rest was allotted to the rectory at the enclosure in 1812, as a commutation for the great and small tithes. The Methodist Chapel in the village was built about 33 years ago, on land given by Mr. Thomas Crosby, and was enlarged in 1828. The school was endowed in 1823, with an interest of £20, bequethed by Mr. John Horn, and now vested in the turnpike-road from Brough to Eamont-bridge. Several small Charities, belonging to the poor of the parish.

Potts Well, near the village, is of a sulpherous nature, and is supposed to rise from a bed of alabaster, lying at a great depth below the surface.

Gullom-Holme, a hamlet in Milburn, 2 ¾ milesN. Of Kirkby Thore.

Milburn, a village forming a joint township and chapelry with Milburn - Grange, and a distant 6 miles N. By W. of Appleby, and 3 miles N. by E. of Kirkby-Thore. King John granted the " Forest of Milburne" to William de Stuteville, whose successor granted it to Robert de Veteripont, who gave the Grange to Shap Abbey. The Earl of Thanet is now Lord of the whole manor, except the Kirkhouse estate, which is held by the Rector of Kirkby-Thore, and contains the Chapel of Ease, an ancient gothic ediface. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the incumbency of the Rev. Philip Threlkeld, and patronage of the Earl of Thanet. In 1752, Sackville, Earl of Thanet, gave £600, and the Governers of Queen Anne’s Bounty £400, for the joint benefit of this chapel and that at Temple Sowerby; to be laid out in land, which was purchased at Firbank, Howgill, near Sedburgh, and Dillicar, now let for about £100 a year, besides which the curates of these chapels receive £20 per annum each from the rector. This chapel was again augmented in 1762 with £400, with which land was purchased at Bolton, now let for £28 per year. The school has an endowment of £4 10s per annum.

Howgill Castle, the ancient manor-house, now occupied by a farmer, stands half a mile S.E. of the village. It was successively the seat of the Knightly families of Lancaster and Sandford, from the latter of whom it passed to the Honeywoods of Mark’s Hall,in Essex. The walls are, some of them 10½ feet thick. At the south end of Dun-Fell is a large intrenchment , called Green Castle, near which an alter was found, inscribed DEO SILVANO. Amongst the mountains, at the east end of the township, coal is seen peeping through the surface; and lead ore discovers itself in the banks of the rivulets. The Rev. P. Threlkeld was master of the village school upwards of 40 years, but he and his son have lately established a boarding academy at Milburn, where he has erected a commodious mansion.

Milburn Grange, a village 1½ mile S.E. of Milburn.

Temple Sowerby, ranks as the neatest and best built village in the county, and is pleasantly situated 6 ½ miles N.W. of Appleby, on the Penrith road, at the confluence of the river Eden and Crowrundle Beck. Four large sheep and cattle Fairs are held here annually on the last Thursdays in February, March and October, and on the second Thursday in May. They were established about 20 years ago. In the village, which consists of two spacious streets, are many good houses, several gentleman’s seats, and three good inns, and near to it is Acorn Bank, the handsome villa of John Boazman, Esq. The lord of the manor, which till lately was the seat and property of the Dalston family, who obtained a grant of it from Henry VIII. In 1545,previous to which it had been possessed by the Knights Templars, who came to England in 1135, and were dissolved in 1312, and there numerous estates, &c, given to the Knights Hospitallers, who in their turn were dissolved in 1545, though they were less remarkable for vice and degeneration than there their predecessors, who were first established by Baldwin II. King of Jerusalem, for the defence of the Holy sepulchre, and the protection of Christian pilgrims; but after the destruction of Jerusalem, they spread themselves over Europe, and acquired by their valour and their fame immense riches and numerous privileges, but afterwards gave themselves to luxury, vice and infamy, which ultimately brought upon them ruin and punishment. The lord and tenants of this manor still claim and exercise several privileges granted to the Knights Templars, the most important of which is the exemption of toll throughout England. The parochial Chapel stands in the centre of the village, and is a handsome fabric of red free-stone, with a square tower and a portico. It was formally very small, but was rebuilt and greatly enlarged by the late Sir William Dalston about the year 1770, the inhabitants being at the expense of carrying the stone from Crowdundle. The clock was given in 1807 by the lady of the manor. The curacy, of which the Earl of Thanet is patron,was augmented in 1752 in connection with that of Milburn, and of the land then purchased, the Davey-Bank estate, in Firbank is allotted to this benefice, and is now let for fifty guineas a year, the present incumbent the Rev. Robert Harrison, having lately improved it by the erection of new buildings, at the cost of £199. It was again augmented in 1762, with £400, expended in the purchase of land at Lazonby, now let for £35 per annum, including an allotment of eight acres awarded at the enclosure. The curate also has a yearly stipend of £20 from the rector of the parish. In 1813, a building in the village was converted into an Independent Chapel, now under the ministry of the Rev. William Selby. The tithes of corn, potatoes, and turnips, are paid in kind, but a modus of 10s. yearly is paid in lieu of the hay tithe. In 1692, Richard Lowes left an acre and rood of land, now let for £5 per year to the poor orphans and widows belonging to the village of Temple Sowerby.

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Kirkby Thore Index

East Ward Index