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Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland

Historical Description

Kirkby Lonsdale, a market-town, a township, and a parish in Westmorland. The town stands on the river Lune, and on the Ingleton branch of the N.W.R., near the boundary with Lancashire, 11 miles SE by S of Kendal. It seems to have risen around a very ancient church-the earliest in the valley of the Lune; took thence its name, which signifies the " church town of Lunesdale;" comprises a spacious market-place and one principal street, consists chiefly of polished freestone houses roofed with blue slate, and commands from some points brilliant views of the valley and neighbouring fells, including Ingleborough. It is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, a polling-place, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office, a railway station, two banks, a principal inn, an old house noticed as an inn by " Drunken Barnaby," an ancient market-cross, a market-house, a bridge, a church, chapels for Congregationalists and Wesleyans, a free grammar school, a mechanics' institute, a working men's club, a concert hall, and various charities. The bridge is a lofty narrow structure of great antiquity, has three ribbed arches, and rises about 60 feet above the river bed. The church stands on an eminence 120 feet above the river, is partly Norman, measures 120 feet in length and 100 in width, has a W tower 60 feet high, is disposed in four aisles, and was thoroughly restored in 1866 by the munificence of the late Earl Bective. It contains several beautiful modern stained glass windows, a beautiful reredos, and a fine monument in black marble to the Countess of Bective. The free grammar school was founded in 1591 by Queen Elizabeth, and has £50 a year from endowment, and three exhibitions to Christ's College, Cambridge; it also shares with other schools the Hastings exhibitions to Queen's College, Oxford. A weekly market is held on Thursday, and there are fairs for cattle on Holy Thursday, 5 Oct., and 21 Dec. The township is governed by a local board, comprises 3254 acres; population, 1802. The parish contains also the townships of Mansergh, Lupton, Hutton Roof, Casterton, Barbon, Middleton, Killington, and Firbank. Population of the civil parish, 4169; of the ecclesiastical, with Lupton, 2127. The manor belonged to St Mary's Abbey, York; passed to the Lowthers, and belongs now to their descendant, the Earl of Lonsdale. Underley Hall, Lnnefield, and the Biggens are chief residences. The parish is very diversified and contains much fine scenery. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Carlisle; gross value, £513 with residence. Patron, Trinity College, Cambridge. The chapel-ries of Barbon, Casterton, Firbank, Hutton Roof, Killington, Mausergh, and Middleton, are separate benefices.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWestmorland 
Ecclesiastical parishKirkby-Lonsdale St. Mary 
Poor Law unionKendal 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Kirkby Lonsdale from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Westmorland is available to browse.