Summer Outing - Beyond Kirkby Stephen

16 July 2003

Leader - David S. Johnson

The party met at the Ashfield car park in Settle to drive up Ribblesdale and then to cross over via Dent Head on the old Coal Road (droving road) to Garsdale Head, then up Mallerstang through the village of Outhgill. This was the home of Michael Faraday's father after they left Clapham Wood Hall. Of note is the chapel which was restored by Lady Anne Clifford. Beyond Outhgill is Pendragon Castle, consolidated more recently by Raven Frankland, the former landowner. This was first erected by Sir Hugh de Morville in the third quarter of the 12th century but he lost all his possessions, and nearly his head, after the murder of Becket. It came into the control of the Cliffords in the 13th century and later was destroyed in 1544 but restored by Lady Anne in 1660-1.

On driving across Birkett Common and looking across the Eden one can pick out the pillow mounds just across the river before the cattle grid. At the top of the next rise, looking back left across the fields, one can pick out the scant remains of Lammerside Castle, a truly ancient medieval structure, and part of the extensive field systems associated with Wharton Hall, seat of the Wharton family enobled in 1544, until the ignominious death of the 1st Duke of Wharton in 1732. (Unfortunately permission to see the Hall was not granted). After Nateby, on the left at the top of the sloping field, a high wall can be seen surrounding the Wharton's deer park. Further travel brought the party to Kirkby Stephen to meet up with more of the group.

The group turned left beyond the town centre, towards Soulby. This village was held by the Musgraves who also held Hartley Castle (now demolished) and Edenhall (also demolished), and the village's layout results from its holding two annual cattle fairs. After a further 2.5 miles we passed a rickety clapper bridge on Helm Beck immediately before Water Houses. The same distance again brought the party to Great Asby.

Great Asby

The party had a look at Asby Hall which bears a 1694 datestone and is built on a massive plinth, visible at the rear. The hall has clearly been reconstructed, with its roof height raised and windows modernised in the 18th century. It has recently changed hands and the new owners are trying their best to bring the house back to its former glory. From there a short stroll was made along Hoff Beck, noting the old ford and old watering hole. The next visit was to The Old Rectory, a former parson's peel with a house built around the core of a small tower (with wonderful hospitality shown to the group). It dates from the 14th century and is quite large for what is classified as a small tower house (36 by 24 feet) with a vaulted basement but only one upper storey because a parson would not have had the gang of retainers and hangers-on of a lord. Lady Anne stayed here on one of her epic journeys from Appleby to Pendragon, sheltering from a "mighty storm", and she gave the parson one of her legendary door locks as a tiny memento. (Why did she not stay at the hall?). Time was available to look around the church across the narrow bridge... with a treat in store. The church wardens allowed a hands-on demonstration of the actual lock. Lunch was alfresco by the beck or in the local watering-hole before continuing the trip at 1.45 pm.

We then moved on over Asby Winderwath Common and on to Bank Moor with its three Bronze Age burial mounds. A steep drop led to Lyvennet Beck in the village of Maulds Meaburn.

Lock donated by Lady Anne Clifford to Old Rectory at Great Asby:
AP refers to Anne of Pembroke (eds.). Photo by John Naylor


Maulds Meaburn

The visit to the hall at Meaburn was delayed somewhat by maintenance work on one of the cars but the party was able to have free run of the grounds if not the interior. Sir Hugh de Morville held the hall and manor of Meaburn until his fall from grace and they passed through various hands until being granted to the Lowthers under James I. The Lowthers maintained Meaburn Hall as their principal residence until Sir James succeeded to the title of Viscount Lonsdale in 1780 and moved to Lowther Castle. The hall is built on an E-plan and the oldest part, the north wing, dates from the 15th century and its first floor sports a fine Tudor window. The south wing dates from 1610 and this replaced the original peel tower. The whole house was remodelled in 1676 but it remains a fine example of a late medieval/early modern manor house, though Lowther stripped out a lot of fine wooden panelling when he moved on.

Until Morville's disgrace Meaburn was a single manor but the northern half was retained by the Crown to become known as King's Meaburn, the next village north, with the southern half left with Sir Hugh's sister Matilda (or Maud) who married a Viteripont, one of a family who were direct ancestors of the Clifford family. Matilda's part of the manor became Mauld's Meaburn. Back via the village a visit was made to the interesting Crosby Ravensworth Church, before heading home.