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Alston, Cumberland

Historical Description

Alston, a town and a parish in Cumberland. The parish is also designated Alston Moor. The town stands on the South Tyne river, a little W of Middlefell, not far from the boundaries with Northumberland, Durham, and Westmoreland, at the terminus of a branch of the Carlisle and Newcastle railway, 26 miles by road and 35 by railway ESE of Carlisle. Its site is a declivity, near the influx of the Nent to the South Tyne, amid a region of high, moorish uplands, and its appearance is relieved and beautified by the vales of the streams and by the neighbouring woods. Its houses are irregular, but consist chiefly of stone. The chief public buildings are a town-hall, the parish church, several dissenting chapels, grammar and other schools, a mechanics' institute, a workhouse, and a stone bridge. The chief employments are connected with the manufacture of clogs and pattens and an extensive mineral traffic. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs on the last Saturday of March, the last Thursday of May, the Friday before 27 Sept., and the first Thursday of Nov. The town has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Carlisle, and a banking office. It is a seat of petty sessions.

The parish includes also the chapelries of Garrigill and Nenthead. Acreage, 36,968; population, 3384. Much of the property belonged to the Earls of Derwentwater, and, after the attainder and execution of the last earl, was given to Greenwich Hospital. The land is chiefly moor and mountain, either utterly sterile or grazed by sheep, but the rocks abound with rich ores, and the hills in some parts are pierced with spar caves. The lead ore generally contains so much silver as to yield from 8 to 10 ounces per ton, and that of Yadmoss mine has yielded 96 ounces per ton. Copper ore and a little gold have been found in the same mines as the lead. Some of the caves in the hills make both a beautiful and an opulent display of minerals, and one, called Tutman's Hole, has been explored to the extent of a mile from the entrance. Traces of the Roman Maiden Way are seen about a mile W of the town, and remains of Whitley Castle, consisting of earthworks, substructions, and a moat, occur on Hall Hill. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Newcastle, and includes the curacy of Garrigill; value, £330, in the gift of the Admiralty. The living of Nenthead is a separate benefice. The grammar school in the town has a small endowment, and there are various charities.

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 CountyCounty Durham 
Ecclesiastical parishAlston St. Augustine 
Poor Law unionAlston 

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


A cemetery of 4 acres was formed in 1860 at a cost of £985.

Church Records

The parish register of baptisms dates from the year 1700, and of marriages and burials from 1701.


Church of England

St. Augustine (parish church)

The church of St. Augustine, originally built in 1154, was rebuilt on the same site in 1768, and in 1869-70 was again rebuilt at a cost of £4,500: it is now an edifice of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave of three bays, south aisle, and a south-west tower with spire containing one bell, cast in 1714 and re-cast in 1845, and said to have been formerly hung at Dilston Hall until 1844; in the tower there are also the remains of a large clock, once belonging to the Radcliffes, of Dilston, and an inscription removed here from the market cross: the stained east window is a memorial to the Rev. Hugh Salvin, sometime vicar of Alston, d. 28 September, 1852, and was erected by his widow at a cost of £270; in the nave is a memorial window to the Rev. Edward Lawson Bowman B.A. vicar, 1875-89, d. 24 January, 1890, and there are others to Mary Anne Horrocks and to Robert and Ellen Hodgson: in the church are also monuments to the Rev. Hugh Salvin, mentioned above, to his twin brother Jeffery Salvin, capt. 4th Foot, d. 29 November, 1850; to the Rev. Thomas Lancaster, vicar, d. 9 December, 1789, and Ruth his widow, d. 6 March, 1801, and there are others to the Bridgewood, Hodgson and Wilson families: the church plate includes a fluted cup or porringer, dated 1726-7, a pewter flagon and paten, dated 1744, and a modern set presented by Mrs. and Misses Hodgson, of Salkeld Hall, in memory of the late Robert Hodgson esq.: in 1874 a sum. of £207 was expended on the church in carving and other decorative work, and in 1878 a new organ was erected at a cost of £670; the tower and spire were completed in 1886 at a cost of £1,170, of which sum £700 was contributed by Miss Hodgson, of Salkeld Hall.


Wesleyan Chapel

The old Wesleyan chapel was built in 1797, and enlarged in 1825: in 1867-8 it was turned into a dwelling house and a larger chapel erected from designs by Mr. R. F. N. Haswell, architect, at a cost of upwards of £2,000, inclusive of £250 for an organ: it has sittings for 600 persons, and there is also a large school-room underneath the chapel.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Alston from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Alston are available from a number of sites:

Villages, Hamlets, &c


Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Cumberland, 1615 is available on the Heraldry page.

RegionNorth West
Postal districtCA9
Post TownAlston