HORNBY, a township and chapelry, and formerly a market-town, in the parish of Melling, hundred of Lonsdale south of the Sands, N. division of Lancashire, 9 miles (N. E.) from Lancaster; containing 318 inhabitants. This place is distinguished for its castle, which stands on the site of a Roman villa, on the summit of a bold rock of conical form, in many parts shrouded by trees, and washed by the Wenning at its base. The castle was originally founded soon after the Norman Conquest, and was subsequently the residence of the Stanleys, lords Monteagle, to one of whom the mysterious letter was sent which led to the discovery of the Gunpowder plot. It consists of two parts, of which the ancient part is in a neglected state. The foundations of two round towers, which may have been built by the Nevilles in the reign of Edward I., were removed some years ago; and a wall thirty-six feet in thickness, supposed to be the base of an ancient tower, was taken up not long since. The large square tower, or keep, the erection of Edward, first lord Monteagle, is the only part of the castle remaining: the modern restorations are in front of, and conceal, the ancient portions. Here are also the ruins of a fortress ascribed to the Saxons; and some remains of a priory, dedicated to St. Wilfrid, which was a cell to the Præmonstratensian abbey of Croxton, and the revenue of which at the Dissolution was valued at £26.
The township lies on the road from Lancaster to Kirkby-Lonsdale; the scenery is very beautiful, embracing the picturesque and fertile vales of the Lune and Wenning, and in the distance are seen the hills of Ingleborough, Whernside, and Pennigant. The former market on Friday is disused, but a market for cattle, held every alternate Tuesday, is well frequented; and there is likewise a cattle-fair on the 30th of July. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £92; patron, Pudsey Dawson, Esq., the owner of Hornby Castle. The chapel, St. Margaret's, has an octagonal tower with pinnacles, which, with the chancel, was built in 1514 by Edward, Lord Monteagle, on the site of a previous building, in fulfilment of a vow he had made at the battle of Flodden-Field: the body was erected in 1817. In the chapel is a fine painted window representing the Ascension of Our Saviour, and containing the armorial bearings of the owners of the castle. There is a Roman Catholic chapel, of which the historian, the Rev. John Lingard, D.D., has been the officiating priest for thirty-six years.