Kirkby Lonsdale

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1936.

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'Kirkby Lonsdale', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland, (London, 1936), pp. 133-140. British History Online [accessed 13 June 2024].

. "Kirkby Lonsdale", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland, (London, 1936) 133-140. British History Online, accessed June 13, 2024,

. "Kirkby Lonsdale", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland, (London, 1936). 133-140. British History Online. Web. 13 June 2024,

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)XLVII, N.E., (b)XLVII, S.E.)

Kirkby Lonsdale is a parish and market-town in the S.E. corner of the county. The church, perhaps the most important, architecturally, in Westmorland, the Devil's Bridge and Tearnside Hall are the principal monuments. The older part of the town is grouped on two main streets at right-angles to one another.


a(1). Parish Church of St. Mary (Plate 9) stands on the N. side of the town. The walls are of rubble, partly ashlar-faced and the dressings are of sandstone; the roofs are covered with slates. A rebuilding of the church on an elaborate scale was begun c. 1100 by the building of the three western bays of the N. arcade but this building was perhaps interrupted by a fire as charred timber was found in the walls in 1866; the three W. bays of the S. arcade were built c. 1180 on a much less ambitious plan and in the same century the West Tower was built. The rest of the arcades and the E. wall were re-built early in the 13th century; the E. wall was perhaps built outside the earlier E. end and the arcades subsequently joined up to it, which would account for the very awkward junction. The North and South Aisles were widened in the 14th century. A chapel called the Middleton Chapel (destroyed in the 18th century) was added at the N.E. angle of the church c. 1486 and in the second half of the 16th century the Outer North Aisle was added. In 1704, the W. tower was largely re-built above the ground stage. In 1806 the N. aisle roof was re-built and the third column of the N. arcade removed; in 1866, during a general restoration, this column was replaced, the roof renewed, the South Porch re-built, a W. gallery removed and the existing embattled parapets added to the walls.

Kirkby Lonsdale, the Parish Church of St. Mary

The church is of considerable architectural interest, the N. arcade being apparently inspired by the work at Durham.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (28¾ ft. by 14¾ ft.) has an E. wall (Plate 118) of c. 1200, with three lancet-windows all with shafted splays having foliated capitals and double moulded rear-arches, the inner arches carried on intermediate free-standing shafts with moulded bases, bands and capitals carved with foliage. The chancel includes only the two 13th-century E. bays of the arcades; the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders with moulded labels; the first column on both sides is cylindrical and the second octagonal and all have moulded capitals and modern bases; the E. responds have each three grouped shafts with moulded capitals and bases; there is a narrow opening between the shafts and the E. wall. There is no chancel-arch.

The Nave (59¾ ft. by 14–13 ft.) has N. and S. arcades (Plate 119) of five bays. The first cylindrical column and most of the first two arches on the N. are modern; the three W. bays (Plate 120) are of c. 1100 and have round arches of two orders; the first arch has a moulded inner order and an outer order moulded only on the S. side; both orders of the second arch are chamfered on the S. face, the outer being plain on the N. face; the third arch has a moulded inner order and an outer order chamfered on the S. side; the two cylindrical columns have moulded bases, the eastern has a scalloped capital with an octagonal abacus; the western has a carved and scalloped capital (Plate 14) with a square abacus; the shafts have spiral grooving of differing design and forming a fret-pattern; the compound pier, between the two cylindrical ones, is of two orders each with an attached shaft; the capitals are scalloped; the N. and S. faces of the pier have each an attached vaulting-shaft, finishing at the level of the abaci; the W. respond is similar to half the compound pier but two of the capitals (Plate 14) have volutes at the angles and the vaulting-shafts are absent. The two 13th-century E. bays of the S. arcade have arches and a cylindrical column like those of the chancel; the three western bays have round arches of c. 1180 and each of two chamfered orders; the first two of the three cylindrical columns are of the same date and have moulded capitals and bases, the third column is of c. 1150 and has a moulded base and scalloped capital with a square abacus; the late 12th-century W. respond has a moulded base and capital carved with foliage. The walling above both arcades has been re-built.

The Inner North Aisle (15½ ft. wide) has a largely restored 14th-century E. window of three trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head; it is set in the N. arch of a 13th-century wall-arcade of two bays with moulded arches springing from two restored detached shafts with moulded bases and foliated capitals. The buttress between the aisle and the chancel has a late 15th-century shield of the arms of Middleton. The 16th-century N. arcade is of five bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the cylindrical columns have moulded capitals and bases; the W. respond is semi-octagonal and has a modern capital; the two bays E. of this arcade are perhaps an 18th-century reconstruction when the Middleton chapel was pulled down; the E. arch springs from a head-corbel. In the W. wall is a late 12th or early 13th-century doorway, re-set; it has chamfered jambs and round head; above it are the quoins of the early aisle; further S. is a 13th-century lancet-window.

The Outer North Aisle (12½ ft. wide) has an E. bay probably reconstructed in the 18th century; the re-set early 16th-century E. window is of two four-centred lights in a four-centred head with moulded reveals. There is a similar window in the E. bay of the N. wall and W. of it a blocked early 16th-century doorway with moulded jambs and flat three-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label. The 16th-century portion of the N. wall has four windows, the three eastern each of four round-headed lights in a square head with a moulded label; the re-set late 14th-century westernmost window is of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label. In the W. wall is a window similar to that last described.

The South Aisle (15¾ ft. wide) has a 14th-century E. window of three trefoiled ogee lights with net-tracery in a two-centred head; the window is set in the S. bay of an early 13th-century wall arcade generally similar to that in the N. aisle. In the S. wall are five windows, the easternmost of the 15th century and of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head; the second window is of late 14th or early 15th-century date and of three trefoiled lights in a square head; the next two windows are modern except for the jambs of the second window; the westernmost window is of c. 1400 and of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the re-set doorway of c. 1200 in the second bay has a round arch of two orders, the outer moulded and the inner chamfered; the jambs have restored shafts with old foliated capitals and moulded abaci carried round the inner order as imposts; the re-set S. doorway in the fifth bay has a late 12th century round head of one moulded order cut cheveronwise and a label formed of a moulded order; the hollow-chamfered jambs are of c. 1400. In the W. wall is a late 12th or early 13th-century window of one round-headed light.

The West Tower (11 ft. by 9¾ ft.) is of four stages with an embattled parapet. The ground stage and the E. wall of the stage above are of late 12th-century date but the rest of the tower was re-built in 1704–5. In the E. wall of the ground stage is a doorway with chamfered jambs and round head; the imposts are probably of c. 1704. The late 12th-century W. doorway (Plate 12) has a round arch of four orders, the inner with cheveron-ornament, the second with chequer-ornament, the third with lozenge ornament and the outer much defaced but with one dragon and one human figure; the jambs have each three attached and two restored free shafts with foliated capitals and moulded abaci and bases; above the doorway is a panel with the date 1705. The second stage has, in the E. wall, a window all modern except for the late 12th-century jambs and part of the round head; in the W. wall is an early 18th-century window of two round-headed lights. The third stage has a similar window in the W. wall, with a moulded label. The bell-chamber has a two-light window in each wall; the S. and W. windows are of the 15th century re-set and have trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; the E. and N. windows are of c. 1704 with some re-used material.

Fittings—Brasses: In chancel—on back of N. stalls, (1) to Gervas Cartwright, 1707–8, inscription only. In N.W. vestry—(2) to Margaret, wife of Richard Garthwait A.M. schoolmaster, 1666, inscription only. See also Monument (3). Chairs: In chancel—two, (a) with carved and panelled back, scrolled top with initials and date C.K.L. 1629, scrolled arms and turned front legs, largely modern; (b) with carved back and cresting, scrolled arms and turned front legs, probably modern. Chests: In N. aisle—(1) modern, but incorporating panels from former seating, two inscribed "Sedes Vicariæ assig. 1665." In vestry—(2) plain with three strap-hinges and bands, one lock-plate, late 17th-century; (3) generally similar, late 17th-century. Coffin: In outer N. aisle—of stone, with shaped head and part of lid, 13th-century. Cupboard: In N. Aisle—of three stages with vertical side pieces carved with linen-fold ornament, each stage with central door of three enriched panels, flanked by elaborate pierced and traceried panels (two modern), early 16th and 17th-century material re-used, cornice and feet modern. Monuments: In outer N. aisle—in N.E. angle, (1) altar-tomb and effigy of one of the family of Middleton, altar-tomb with enriched plinth and defaced cornice with remains of inscription, two shields on S. and one on W. side—(a) Middleton impaling Carus, (b) Middleton impaling Bellingham, (c) lozengy three (?) saws or rakes impaling Middleton, mutilated alabaster effigy probably of a man with head on helm, legs missing, early 16th-century. In S. aisle—on S. wall, (2) to Elizabeth (Carus) wife of Sir Nicholas Curwen, 1611, alabaster and slate tablet with cornice and broken pediment, side-pilasters missing. In churchyard—E. of inner N. aisle, (3) to John Dent, 1709, also a brass-inscription to Thomas Dent, moulded slab. Piscina: In first column of S. arcade—recess (Plate 47) with moulded jambs and restored head and round projecting bowl on triple corbel with foliage, early 13th-century. Plate: includes cup (Plate 54) and cover-paten of 1571, the former with band of engraved ornament, the latter with the date on the handle, cup (Plate 54) and cover-paten of 1633 given by Henry Wilson. Poor-box: In nave—modern but incorporating a panel with the inscription "A box for the poore," probably early 18th-century as a box was made in 1703. Pulpit: of oak (Plate 53), hexagonal and of two ranges of enriched panelling with moulded and enriched posts, desk with inscription "Soli Deo gloria 1619 H.W. fundator" (for Henry Wilson), pulpit reconstructed and made up with modern work. Scratchings: In various parts of church, masons' marks. Screen: In S. aisle—re-set on E. wall, traceried heads of seven bays of a 15th-century screen. Seating: In S. aisle—five modern benches incorporating 17th-century and later panels, including pieces inscribed H. and A.W. 1619, I. and S.K. 1699 and T. and A.G. 1713. Miscellanea: In vestry—part of a small carved figure of the Virgin (?) with kneeling figure on left, 15th-century; earthenware flagon with narrow neck and handle, brown glaze, 17th-century; painted wooden tablet recording the repairing of a porch by Christopher Wood, with achievement-of-arms, initials C.W. and date 1668.

Condition—Good, but much ivy on some walls.


a(2) Cockpit Hill, 150 yards N. of the church, stands on a bluff on the W. bank of the Lune. It would appear to have been a small motte and now consists of a mound, about 130 ft. in diameter and rising at most some 19 ft. above the bottom of the slight ditch which surrounds it except on the E. The mound has been damaged by the formation of a path on the E. side and by some excavation on the top, perhaps to adapt it for use as a cock-pit.


b(3). The Devil's Bridge (Frontispiece and Plate 121), over the River Lune, 800 yards S.E. of the church, is a rubble and ashlar structure of three spans. There is record of a grant of pontage for the repair of the bridge in 1365, but the round form of the arches would seem to indicate that the existing structure was re-built not earlier than late in the 15th or early in the 16th century. The bridge is ashlar-faced and has segmental arches with two ribs on the soffit and cut-waters on both sides of the piers. The arches have two or three chamfered orders on the face and the cut-waters are splayed back to the face of the three-sided refuges above. The parapets are mostly of the 17th century and have two slight breaks in level. In one of the refuges is a short shaft with a larger moulded head, formerly fitted with a sundial; on the head is the inscription ". . . n Constabl C . . . . Lonsdal War." and "Feare God honer the [King] 1673". Many of the stones of the bridge bear masons' marks.


b(4). Biggins Hall, about ¾ m. S.W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. The outbuildings adjoining the S. side of the modern house formed the original Hall. The middle block is of mediæval date; it was extended to the W. and the S. wing added, on the site of an earlier wing, in the 16th century. The N. wing is dated 1606. The W. extension retains most of its 16th-century windows of three and four transomed lights with labels. There is a window of the same date in the end-wall of the S. wing and another inserted in the W. wall of the original block. Above this last is a 15th-century window of two lights and there are two doorways of the same period in the N. wall of the same block. The doorway of the 17th-century wing has a square moulded head with the initials and date E.C. (Curwen) 1606. At the N.E. angle of the original block are remains of a circular staircase. Inside the building the original block has heavy ceiling-beams and two original doorways with pointed heads. A fireplace on the first floor has a shouldered lintel. In the E. wing is a 16th-century fireplace with a triangular head.


a(5). Tearnside Hall, 1½ m. W.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. It was built in 1686 and has early 18th-century additions on the N. and E. The S. front has moulded string-courses above the ground and first-floor windows; the windows are mostly original, with stone jambs and mullions. The two-storeyed porch has an outer entrance with moulded jambs, imposts and square head; between it and the label is a panel of carved foliage and above the label is a panel with the initials and date I. and A.B. 1686. The window above has three lights, the side lights with transoms and the middle light with a round head, within the main square head of the window. A second doorway, further E., has the chamfer carried up to form a curved panel on the face of the lintel. Inside the building are some 17th-century doors and panelling. The fireplace in the W. room has flanking pilasters and a lintel carved with a lozenge enrichment connected by flush mouldings; there is a similar fireplace on the first floor. The fireplace in the middle room has a corbelled lintel. The staircase has turned balusters and panelled newels.

Kirkby Lonsdale, the Devil's Bridge


a(6). Dean's Biggin, house about 1½ m. N.N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. Parts of the E. wing and the central stack are of mediæval date, but the house was largely reconstructed in 1623. The N. wing was added in the 18th century. The S. front retains two 17th-century three-light windows; the two-storeyed porch has a panel over the outer entrance with the initials and date I. and A.B. (for Joseph Booth) 1623. The inner doorway with a pointed head is perhaps original. Re-used in the E. wall of the house is a 15th-century single-light window. Inside the building the central stack has a large original fireplace, with a three-centred moulded head of stone and an outer moulding forming a frame to the stonework. On the first floor is a fireplace (Plate 41) with moulded jambs, flat triangular head and a pedimental lintel with knotwork enrichments and the date 1623. A second fireplace of the same date, has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. There is also some 17th-century panelling and doors and a cupboard of the local type with the initials and date T.D. 1698. The original roof of the E. wing is of three bays with king-post trusses; the timbers are smoke-blackened.


a(7). Market Cross in the Swine Market, 60 yards S.E. of the church, was moved to its present position in 1819, from Market Street. The round shaft brought out to a square at the base, is probably mediæval; it is set in a square base-stone on three octagonal steps; the head is modern.


Monuments (8–36)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys. The walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams.

Condition—Good or fairly good.

a(8). Abbot's Hall and No. 8 The Cross, 35 yards S.E. of the church, have been much altered.

Market Street, N. side

a(9). Sun Inn, at the E. corner of Church Street, has an extension of c. 1700 at the back. The upper storey projects over the pavement in front on stone piers.

Kirkby Lonsdale, Plan Showing the Position of Monuments

a(10). House and shop, adjoining (9) on the E.

S. side

a(11). King's Arms Inn and two adjoining houses Nos. 5 and 9, S. of Church Street, was originally one house. It was built probably late in the 16th century. The front has been modernised but the back retains two original windows each of six transomed lights with a moulded label. There are smaller original windows in the end-walls. Inside the building is a large original fireplace with moulded jambs and segmental arch. There is also a fireplace of c. 1700 and some 17th-century partitions and panelling. A room on the first floor has a 17th-century ceiling with moulded plaster panels. The roofs are partly original.

Main Street, E. side

a(12). Houses, Nos. 63 and 65, 10 yards S. of Market Street, are of three storeys with attics, and have been much altered but retain some original windows in the S. wall.

a(13). Red Dragon Hotel, adjoining (12) on the S., has a front block of c. 1700. Inside the building is a muntin and plank partition of the local type and a fireplace with moulded jambs and segmental head.

a(14). Green Dragon Hotel and house No. 35, 65 yards S. of (13), are of three storeys, and contain an early 18th-century fireplace with a corbelled head and a grooved key-block; near it is a spice-cupboard (Plate 36) with the initials and date R.P. 1711; there is also a panelled cupboard of the same period. The staircase is of c. 1700 but the upper flights have flat shaped balusters of the 17th century.

W. side

a(15). Royal Hotel, on the W. side of Market Square, is modern except for the W. wing. Re-set in the S. wall is a late 17th-century doorway with curved enrichment and rosettes on the lintel.

a(16). Houses and shop, Nos. 34–38, 10 yards N. of New Road.

a(17). House and shop, 13 yards N. of (16).

a(18). House and shop, No. 42, immediately N. of (17), contains an original staircase with flat shaped balusters; there are also some late 17th-century panelled doors.

a(19). Rose Cottage, immediately W. of (18).

a(20). House and shops, Nos. 50 and 52, immediately N. of (18), retains two original windows in the N. wall.

a(21). Houses, Nos. 54–58, is partly of the 16th century, but the N.E. and S.W. parts are 17th-century additions or rebuilding. Over the cartway, at the back, is a 17th-century window of three transomed lights with moulded jambs and mullions. Inside the building is a large fireplace with a segmental head and in the attics is a fireplace of c. 1700 with a moulded surround and scrolled cornice. There is a panelled cupboard of c. 1700 and some balusters of the same period on the top landing. A muntin and plank partition, on the first floor, is perhaps original.

Mill Brow

a(22). Cottages, Nos. 2 and 5, on the S. side, 80 yards S.E. of the church, contain an early 18th-century fireplace with a corbelled head.

a(23). Old Manor House, on the N. side of the road, 110 yards E. of the church, was built in the 16th century, but almost entirely remodelled c. 1700. The S. front, of this date, is symmetrically designed, with mullion and transom windows and a central doorway with eared architrave, entablature and broken segmental pediment. The N. and E. sides retain some original stone windows. Inside the building are two fireplaces of c. 1700, one having a corbelled head. The staircase, of the same period has turned balusters and square newels.

a(24). Cottage on the S.W. side of the road, 50 yards S.E. of (23).


a(25). Cottage, No. 1 and adjoining tenements on the N., at the W. corner of Vicarage Lane.

a(26). Cottage, No. 3, immediately W. of (25).

a(27). Range of tenements, Nos. 8–18, on the S.W. side of the road 125 yards W. of the church, was remodelled in 1844.

a(28). Vicarage, 75 yards N.W. of the church, is mostly modern but incorporates a 17th-century W. wing.

a(29). Abbot Hall, on the N. side of Mitchelgate, 260 yards S.W. of the church, was built in the 16th century, The N.W. block with the staircase was added late in the 17th century and there is a modern wing on the N. The house retains some original stone windows and a circular staircase at the back. Inside the building is a cupboard of the local type with pendants and fascia; it is dated 1632. There is also a muntin and plank partition and a fireplace of c. 1700 with a corbelled head. The late 17th-century staircase (Plate 37) has moulded balusters and square newels with ball-terminals. Two rooms on the first floor are lined with mid and late 17th-century panelling and there are two fireplaces of c. 1700.

b(30). Green Close, house on the W. side of the road ¼ m. S. of the church, is modern except for the re-erected late 17th-century porch, from the church, which serves as a summer-house. The entrance has side pilasters, imposts and segmental arch.

b(31). Wood End, house ½ m. S.S.W. of the church, has been much altered and enlarged.

b(32). Range of eight tenements on the E. side of the road at Low Biggins 140 yards N.W. of (31).

b(33). Range of three tenements adjoining (32) on the E.

b(34). Range of three tenements 40 yards N. of (33). The E. part is of c. 1600 and retains some original stone windows with moulded labels. The W. part is an addition of c. 1700.

a(35). Fell Side, house over 1 m. W.N.W. of the church, contains an early 18th-century staircase with turned balusters and square newels. There are also some panelled doors.

a(36). Scar Brow, house 1½ m. N. of the church, has been much altered, but retains an original stone window with moulded jambs and label.


Settlement at Kirkby Lonsdale

a(37). Village Settlement (440 ft. above O.D.), on the W. border of the parish over 1¾ m. W. of the church. The remains are in bad condition, and with the exception of a few stones 'on edge' which formed the base of the outer faces of the enclosure wall, the whole of the stonework has been removed. The enclosure is of irregular oval form surrounded by a rampart which was turned inwards on either side of the entrance on the S.E. The remaining stones on edge on the N. side of the enclosure indicate that the thickness of the wall at this point was from 5–7 ft. These stones are of varying heights up to 18 inches. A little further S. on the N.E. rampart is a stone on edge—apparently corresponding to the outer face of the wall—which is 5 ft. long and 3 ft. high. The arrangements within the enclosure are not very certain both by reason of their slight remains and also from traces of excavation in several places. The settlement would appear, however, to have been divided into a number of enclosures in the way common to other examples, while near the N. corner are traces of a roughly circular enclosure probably representing a hut. Against the N.E. rampart towards its S. end are the foundations of a small rectangular building. The site has been partially explored by excavation but nothing was found except bones of bos longifrons and a hipposandal. The excavation of the small rectangular building is said to have shown that its walling was more regular than that on the rampart, and this together with the analogy with the rectangular buildings in the Crosby Ravensworth settlements, suggest that it is of later date than the rest. (C. and W. Trans. O.S. VII, p. 111.) A bronze bull's head of late Celtic type has been found on the site (Antiq. Journal, XV., 79).

About 16 yards N.W. of the settlement there is a somewhat irregularly shaped rectangular sinking about 38 yards by 11 yards, the more southerly 9 yards of which is of slightly greater depth. Its purpose is uncertain and it may have no connection with the settlement, nor be of any great age. Immediately E. of where the trackway which passes the settlement enters the field, against the hedge and some 50 yards E.S.E. of the entrance to the settlement, is an oval mound about 27 ft. long by 15 ft. wide and 2½ ft. high. It is covered with turf and may be modern.