Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Kentmere Hall, Kentmere Nr Kendal

Kentmere Hall
Nr Kendal

Kentmere Tower can be found about 12 miles North of Kendal, at the end of the Kentmere valley from where the River Kent springs. The tower and attached hall dominate the Northern end of the valley, along with the small church of St Cuthbert.

The site consists of a 15th century cross wing to the East of the building, a central hall, again dating from the 15th century, and, most importantly, a 14th century tower to the West. A 19th century kitchen is situated to the rear of the hall.

The tower stands to three storeys, and was probably built around 1375 by the Gilpin family. Indeed, the whole of Kentmere once belonged to the Gilpin family, until the land and the tower and hall were sold to the Philipsons in the 1660’s. The tower covers an area of around 9 metres by 7 metres, with walls some 1 and a half metres thick at ground level. There is a vaulted basement and a spiral staircase still exists in the North East corner, visible from the outside as a small projection. The corbelled parapet still exists most of the way around the summit of the tower.

Above. Floor plan of the tower and the attached hall house. 

Above. Rear view of the tower and hall house.

An early drawing by Machell, shows the hall with the tower attached to it, with no other buildings in attendance.

This is one of those great sites that have good access. A public footpath runs right past the tower, affording great views.

The building of Kentmere Hall, includes the fantastical appearance of a local 'giant', Hugh Hird (the Troutbeck Giant!!). It is alleged that, whilst the tower was being roofed, ten men could not lift and place the huge chimney beam, which it is said, measured thirty feet long, thirteen inches by twelve and a half thick, and sits some six feet up. Whilst the builders were resting, and no doubt pondering how they would get this huge piece of wood in place, Hugh turned up and single handed put this chimney beam into place. The story then goes onto say how Hugh killed himself at the age of 42, tearing up trees in the Kentmere valley, with his bare hands!!! Legend also tells us that Hugh was a defender of local villages and their people during raids by the Scots.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Melmbery Hall, Melmerby

Melmerby Hall

The small village of Melmerby can be found about six miles North East of Penrith on the A686. The church of church of St John the Baptist sits right next to a long high wall that runs the length of the gardens of the hall. The village appears in some historical documentation as a defensible village....a feature of a few scattered villages in this part of the county. But unlike Milburn and Temple Sowerby, Melmerby seems to have lost the traditional form and shape of these villages.

(Above photo courtesy of Simon Ledingham)

Views of the hall are difficult to come by, so my visit to Melmerby was fruitless where photographing the hall was concerned. However, a kind benefactor recently sent me a newspaper cutting with a photo of the hall....and this is what can be seen here.

Above. An old postcard (from a personal collection) showing the village green.

The oldest part of the current building probably dates from around the latter part of the 16th century. There are reports of a date stone being seen with a date of 1597 carved in it.

The original fortification, a 'tower' of some description, is thought to have been built sometime in the early 14th century, but all that survives now, is the 16th century hall range, consisting of a parlour and scullery. A record, probably dating from around 1322, states "John de Denum kept a garrison of twelve men at his tower of Melmerby".

Interestingly, the small church a few hundred yards away, is thought to contain the remains of 14th century tower, possibly built as a place of refuge. Could this be in any way connected with the hall?

Check this link.