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Kirkoswald, Cumberland

Historical Description

Kirkoswald, a village, a township, and a parish in Cumberland. The village, formerly a market-town, lies in the Eden valley, near the confluence of the Raven beck with the river Eden, 1½ mile from Lazonby station on the M.R., and 8 miles NNE of Penrith. It takes its name from St Oswald, king of Northumbria (634-642), to whom the church is dedicated. It is a small and well-built town, possessing an ancient parish church, two handsome Wesleyan and Congregational chapels, a bank, a head post office, a flour mill, and a woollen factory. The parish contains the townships of Staffield and Kirkoswald, and is divided½into four " quarters." Acreage, 11, 372; population, 803. Eastward of the village, surrounded by a moat, are the considerable-ruins of an ancient castle, the seat of Ranulph d'Engayne, the original Norman grantee, from whom it passed to Hugo de Morvill, one of the assassins of Thomas a Becket, thence to the Multons, Dacres, and Mnsgraves. Sandford pronounced it " one of the fairest fabrics that ever eyes looked upon." It was dismantled about 1620 by Lord William Howard of Naworth. The chief residences are Staffield Hall and the College, the seat of the family of Fetherstonhaugh since the-time of James I., and formerly the residence of a provost and twelve priests, attached to the church; it was suppressed by King Henry VIII. in 1646, and plundered by the Parliamentary troops in the Civil War. The church, which is approached through a fine avenue of lime trees, is old and interesting, showing remains of the original Norman foundation, with additions of Early English date and of later times. It consists of a nave with a Norman arcade and clerestory, N and S aisles, a fine chancel with a lofty arch, and an ancient oak-timbered porch. The south door is walled up. The-church was made collegiate in 1523. It was carefully restored in 1878, and contains a tomb of Colonel Fetherstonhaugh, who was beheaded at Chester in 1651. Beneath the floor flows a stream of water, the probable site of baptisms in Early Christian times. The belfry tower, restored in 1892, stands apart on the summit of the hill above the church, and has two ancient bells. The living is a vicarage-in the diocese of Carlisle; net value, £293 with residence-Patron, the Bishop of Carlisle. There is a small ancient endowed chapel in this parish, dating from Cromwellian times, at Parkhead. On the northern margin of the parish the Croglin Water flows through the charming scenery of the nunnery grounds. A bridge of six arches, which was built in 1762, spans the Eden, and carries the road to Lazonby and Penrith.

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

Land and Property

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


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

Visitations Heraldic

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

RegionNorth West
Postal districtCA10
Post TownPenrith