CATON, a parochial chapelry, and a township, in the parish of Lancaster, hundred of Lonsdale south of the Sands, N. division of the county of Lancaster, 5 miles (N. E. by E.) from Lancaster; containing 1195 inhabitants. The manor was a possession of the Gernets, the ancient foresters of Lancaster: there was also here a family named Caton, who held the manor by homage and service; and in connexion with the place, are mentioned, successively, the families of Curwen, Chorley, Stanley, Dalton, Riddell, Rawlinson, and Edmondson. The chapelry comprises four districts or quarters, viz.: Brookhouse, Caton Green, Littledale, and Town-End; and contains by measurement 8373a. 2r. 16p., whereof 600 acres are arable, 3300 meadow and pasture, 400 woodland, and about 4000 moorland. It lies on the road from Lancaster to Hornby, and on the eastern bank of the river Lune, which is here crossed by a bridge, with a road from it leading to Halton. The beauty of the diversified scenery elicited a warm eulogium from the poet Gray, in a letter to Dr. Warton; and Dr. Whitaker, in describing the beauties of the Vale of the Lune, says, "Immediately on approaching Caton, its character as the first of northern valleys is established by the beautiful windings here of the river, the fruitful alluvial lands upon its banks, the wooded and cultivated ridge that bounds it on the north-west, the striking appearance of Hornby Castle in front, and above all the noble form of Ingleborough, presenting an assemblage of features not united to compose any rival scenery in the kingdom." On the top of the moor are several freestone-quarries, and an inferior stone is found on the surface. There are two silk-mills, two cotton-mills, and a flax-mill, in operation, employing in all 400 persons; and at Grassyard Hall is a corn-mill. Scarthwaite, on the bank of the Lune, is the seat of Adam Hodgson, Esq., commanding the whole extent of the vale, and the winding course of the river; the precise spot selected by Mr. Hodgson for his house and terrace, under the auspices of Mr. Gilpin and Sir John Nasmyth, has long been distinguished as "Gray's Station," and shares in all the exquisite scenery that gives celebrity to the vale. The Elms, and the land around it, are the property of John Walmsley, Esq., of Richmond House, near Lancaster, who is also owner of Caton mill. John Edmondson, Esq., is lord of the manor.
The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £140, with a house erected in 1844; patron, the Vicar of Lancaster. The ancient chapel was built about the year 1245; of this structure, the beautiful Saxon gateway and the font alone remain: the present edifice was erected about 300 years ago, and has a square tower. There are places of worship for Wesleyans and Independents; and a national school supported by subscription. The interest of £250 was left in 1838, by Richard Sparling Berry, Esq., for parents who educate their children without parochial relief: four cottages are free of rent for poor persons; and about £5 are annually distributed to the poor. In 1803, a Roman mill-stone, eight feet long, was found in Artle beck, bearing the name of the Emperor Adrian; and subsequently a stone with consonants on it, which, when supplied by the vowel e, form an ingenious monitory couplet.