An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Westmorland. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1936.
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58 LOWTHER (D.b.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a)VII, N.E., (b)VII, S.E., (c)VIII, N.W., (d)VIII, S.W., (e)XIV, N.W.)
Lowther is a parish, mainly covered by Lowther Park, 6 m. N.N.W. of Shap. The church, Hackthorpe Hall and the village-settlement in the park are the principal monuments.
a(1). Parish Church of St. Michael stands in the N.W. corner of the parish. The walls are of local sandstone rubble with dressings of the same material; the roofs are slate-covered. The N. arcade of the Nave was built c. 1170 and early in the 13th century the S. arcade was built outside the line of the earlier S. wall. About the same time the crossing and Central Tower were built, the Transepts added and the chancel probably re-built. In 1686 the whole of the outer walls were re-built by Sir John Lowther and a dome and lantern erected over the central tower. These were replaced in 1856 by the present third stage of the tower, subsidiary columns and arches being added to strengthen the crossing; the West Porch and the North Vestry are also modern.
The church has interesting 12th and 13th-century details and among the fittings the monuments and pre-Conquest stones are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (23¼ ft. by 16 ft.) is entirely of late 17th-century date and has ashlar quoins and a pediment to the E. gable. In the E. wall are two round-headed windows with moulded architraves. The N. and S. walls have each a similar window; the N. wall has a modern doorway and the S. wall a 17th-century doorway with moulded jambs and embattled ornament on the lintel.
The Central Tower (14½ ft. by 15¼ ft.) is of three stages, the lowest of early 13th-century date, the middle stage repaired in the 17th century and the top stage modern. The ground-stage has four arches, each two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the responds have each two round and one keeled shaft with moulded capitals and bases; within the N. and S. arches are modern sub-arches resting on a modern central column; there are also modern oak posts in the angles of the crossing. The second stage has, in the E. and N. walls, a late 17th-century square-headed window, with a moulded architrave. In the S. wall is a modern window.
The North Transept (17¾ ft. by 15½ ft.) has a late 17th-century round-headed window in the N. wall. The similar window, from the E. wall, has been re-set in the vestry. In the W. wall is an early 13th-century arch, semi-circular and of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner springing from detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases.
The South Transept (16½ ft. by 14¾ ft.) has ashlar quoins and a pediment to the gable. The E. and S. walls have each a late 17th-century square-headed window. In the W. wall is an early 13th-century arch similar to but narrower than that in the N. transept.
The Nave (37½ ft. by 20¼ ft.) has a N. arcade (Plate 96) of c. 1170 and of four bays; the arches are semi-circular and of two square orders, with a chamfered label on the S. face; the columns are cylindrical with halfcylindrical responds, all with carved capitals (Plate 13) and moulded bases; the capitals are carved with foliage, monsters, grotesque beasts and an owl; the third capital is scalloped but unfinished; two of the bases have spur-ornaments. The early 13th-century S. arcade is of four bays, with round arches of two chamfered orders, octagonal columns and semi-octagonal responds all with moulded capitals and bases. The clearstorey has, on each side, four late 17th-century square-headed windows. In the W. wall are two late 17th-century round-headed windows and a late 17th-century doorway with a moulded architrave, square head and cornice. Across the W. end is an 18th-century gallery.
The North Aisle (10½ ft. wide) has four square-headed windows in the N. wall and a round-headed window in the W. wall, all of late 17th-century date.
The South Aisle (8 ft. wide) has windows uniform with those in the N. aisle.
Fittings—Bell: In building N. of church—one by W.E. (William Eldridge ?), 1687. Brass: now in Lowther Castle—to Robert Lowther, 1430, inscription only. Chairs: In chancel—two, with turned front legs, carved and pierced backs with twisted side-posts, late 17th-century. Chest: In vestry—plain with two strap-hinges, late 17th or early 18th-century. Churchyard Cross: S. of S. transept—tapering shaft (Plate 37) with larger base, set reversed on two steps, mediæval, 18th-century sundial fixed on top. Communion Rails: with twisted balusters and moulded rails, late 17th-century. Communion Table: with twisted legs and stretchers, late 17th-century, top modern. Font: Round bowl (Plate 44), stem and base, all deeply moulded, on moulded plinth, late 17th-century, initials T.A. on rim. Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In S. transept—against E. wall, (1) to John, Viscount Lonsdale and Lord Lowther, 1700, table-tomb, effigy and wall-monument (Plate 137) of white veined marble, table-tomb with drapery and cherub-heads, reclining effigy (Plate 138) of man with wig, peer's robe and sword and holding coronet, wall-monument with swags, side pilasters, entablatures, broken pediment, achievement and two shields-of-arms; against S. wall, (2) to Sir Richard Lowther, Lord Warden of the W. Marches, 1607–8, table-tomb, effigy (Plate 138) and wall-monument, plain table-tomb with moulded slab and plinth, alabaster effigy of man in armour and ruff, draped wall-tablet (Plate 45) with family-tree and achievement-of-arms; on W. wall, (3) to Sir John Lowther, 1637 and Sir John Lowther, Bart., his son, 1675, wall-monument (Plate 137) of various marbles with black background, draped busts of two men with skull, swags, drapery and cartouche-of-arms. In churchyard—S.E. of transept, (4), to James Webster, 1694, headstone; S. of nave, (5) to . . . Cooke, c. 1700, headstone. Floor-slabs: In S. transept—(1) with incised cross enclosing initials ihc., 15th-century; (2) with incised cross and sword, 14th or 15th-century. Panelling: In chancel—over communion-table and as dado round walls, bolection-moulded panelling, late 17th-century. Plate: includes a flagon of 1685 (York), with the Lowther Arms, a cup and cover-paten of 1686, a second cup of about the same age and a stand-paten probably of 1682. Pre-Conquest Stones: In churchyard—in mound at S. end three hog-back stones (Plate 8), (a) with gabled top cut to represent tiles, on S. side figure-subject with body of armed men on right and armed men in ship on left, single larger figure between the two groups, on N. side, series of six busts, all but one with long plaits of hair, scrolled band at bottom, stone about 5¼ ft. long and 1¾ ft. high; (b) of similar form to last with remains of tiled top and ridge terminating in defaced beast-heads, sides with central conventional foliage-ornament knots and a bird on the S. side, stone about 4¼ ft. long by 1¼ ft. high; (c) portion only with tiled top similar to other two stones, on each face series of busts with plaits of hair similar to N. side of (a); all probably late 10th or early 11th-century. Found in same mound, two other stones (Plate 5), (a) portion of flat tomb-slab with beaded or cabled top edges and panel of heavy interlacement on top, stone about 2¾ ft. long and 1¼ ft. wide, now about 8 in. thick but back broken away; (b) two fragments forming complete stone, probably tomb-slab but possibly cross-shaft, beaded or cabled edges, panel with heavy interlacement and volutes on top, on one side, narrow panel of interlacement with free rings and terminating in beast's-head, on other side heavy key pattern, back plain, stone about 4½ ft. long by 1¼ ft. wide and 1 ft. thick; both stones probably early 11th-century. Pulpit: hexagonal with bolection-moulded panels and cornice, c. 1700, base modern. Miscellanea: On S. wall of S. transept—late 17th-century cartouche-of-arms of Lowther impaling Thynne. In S. end of churchyard—two square upright stones, probably footstones, with decayed 'black-letter' inscriptions, 17th-century.
a(2). Castlesteads, earthwork, 360 yards S. of the church, forms a rectangular enclosure about 30 yards by 24 yards. It probably represents the overgrown foundations of a pele-tower or other mediæval building.
a(3). Lowther Castle, 750 yards S.S.E. of the church, is largely a modern building. A house was built on the site by Sir John Lowther about the middle of the 17th century and was largely re-built in 1685. This house was burnt in 1720 and the present castle built in 1808. Of the 17th-century building portions survive in lower walls of the kitchen-wing and two rectangular blocks immediately to the N. of it. The old parts of the kitchen-wing are ashlar-faced but the other blocks are of rubble. In the basement of the main N. range are some 17th-century doorways, probably re-set. In the grounds is a large number of worked and moulded stones from Shap Abbey and other buildings in the neighbourhood. There is also the bowl of a font, dated 1679 and a portion of a cross-shaft (9 in. by 5½ in.) with a running vine-scroll, probably of the 9th century. Inside the house are two 8th-century cross-shafts (Plate 6), possibly from Lowther church, one has vine-scrolls of the same type as Heversham, the other has beasts in a vine-scroll, long-beaked ribbon animals and two designs of vine-scroll.
d(4). Hackthorpe Hall (Plate 19) at the S. end of Hackthorpe village, and 2 m. S.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are slate-covered. It was built by Sir Christopher Lowther early in the 17th century and later in the same century an L-shaped block of outbuildings was added at N. end. A wing was added on the W. side early in the the 18th century and there is a later addition on the W. of the original block. The E. front retains its original four-light transomed windows with moulded labels and a three-light window of the same date. The three-storeyed porch has a square-headed outer entrance and two-light windows to the floors above. Inside the building two rooms on the first floor are lined with late 17th-century panelling. The roof is of five bays with tie-beams, diagonal struts and collars.
a(5). Storehouse, 1,050 yards N.E. of the church, is modern but incorporates two windows, said to have come from the church. One is of the 15th century and of three transomed lights with an altered head, the second is of four four-centred and transomed lights in a square head with a moulded label; it is probably of the 16th century.
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, unless noted.
a(6). The College, house, at the N. end of Newtown, 900 yards E.S.E. of the church, was built in 1709 but has been extensively altered.
a(7). House, opposite and S. of (6), was built in 1709 and has windows with moulded architraves. Inside the building, the S. room has an original plaster cornice.
a(8). House, 80 yards S. of (7), is of similar date and character to (7).
a(9). Range of two houses, 50 yards S. of (8), is again of the same date and character as (7) and (8).
c(10). Low Moor, house, 1 m. E. of the church, was built c. 1700 but has been much altered.
c(11). House, on the N.E. side of the road at the N. end of Melkinthorpe village, 2¼ m. E.N.E. of the church, retains an original panelled cupboard of the local type. One fireplace has a moulded surround and a second has moulded corbelling to the jambs.
c(12). House, 80 yards S.E. of (11), has later additions on the S. and E. It retains some late 17th-century panelled doors and corbelled fireplaces.
c(13). House, S.E. of (12).
c(14). House, 100 yards S.E. of (13), has an original doorway with a triangular head.
c(15). Outbuilding, formerly cottage, 30 yards S. of (14), has three roof-trusses of crutch-type.
c(16). Barn, immediately S.E. of (15), is of eight bays.
c(17). House, on the S.W. side of the road 200 yards S.E. of (11), has an early 18th-century extension on the E. Inside the building one fireplace has a moulded surround and a second a moulded mantelpiece.
d(18). Lowther School, at the N.W. end of Hackthorpe village, 1½ m. S.W. of the church, is modern but incorporates a tablet with the inscription "Hanc scholam erexerunt Johanes Lowther miles Barronettus, Richardus Lowther armiger et Johanes Teasdale ecclesiæ Rector, Anno Salutis 1640, Regis Caroli 16."
d(19). House, 360 yards E. of (18).
d(20). House, on the N.E. side of the road 470 yards S.E. of (18), retains some late 17th-century panelled doors.
d(21). House, 30 yards S. of (20).
d(22). Post Office, 30 yards S.E. of (21), retains an original three-light window.
d(23). Barn, on the S.W. side of the road 70 yards W. of (22), is of four bays.
d(24). House, 50 yards N. of (23), retains two original windows with moulded labels.
d(25). Park House, 1¾ m. S.S.E. of the church, was partly remodelled early in the 18th century. It retains some original mullioned windows and a panelled spicecupboard.
b(26). House, on the N. side of the road at Whale, over 1¾ m. S. of the church.
b(27). House, on the S. side of the road 30 yards S.W. of (26), retains an original three-light window.
b(28). House, 20 yards E. of (27), retains an original three-light window and some panelled doors.
b(29). Whalemoor, house, 2½ m. S.S.E. of the church, has an original panelled spice-cupboard.
e(30). Whalemoor Head, house, 280 yards S. of (29).
b(31). Earthworks, probably village-settlement, on the N. end of Cragside Wood, 2 m. S.S.E. of the church. The site (725 ft. above O.D.) slopes slightly towards the E., there is a steep slope immediately to the S. The enclosure (1¼ acres) is of oval form, flattened out at the E. end. It is formed by a bank mostly grasscovered but showing signs of a core of stones in the part within the wood. Without excavation it is not possible to say whether the banks represent wallfoundations or loose stone ramparts. Internally it is divided into a number of sub-enclosures. There is an entrance at the E. end from which a sunken track leads into the furthermost enclosure. There are no apparent indications on the surface of any entries from this track into the intermediate enclosures. There are gaps in the banks between the enclosures adjoining the modern wall running across the site, but these may have been wholly, or in part, caused during the building of the wall.
This work differs from most of the village-settlements of the district in its more regular and rectangular lay-out and in the absence of any circular huts.
Condition—Part in wood, bad, rest, fairly good.
b(32). Lynchets, S.E. of Rowlandfield Plantation and 1¾ m. S.S.E. of the church, consist of three terraces about ¼ m. long on a S. slope. The two lower terraces are about 20 ft. wide and the average rise is about 3 ft.