Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tolson Hall, Near Kendal

Tolson Hall
Near Kendal
Tolson Hall can be found about a mile West of Burneside on Hollins Lane (just off the A591) It can be seen from the roadside here, through the spectacular gatehouse, shown below. The hall was built in 1638 for Thomas Tolson, a local tobacco merchant. Originally, the hall would have consisted of the central portion of the building perhaps with two wooden wings....however the West wing was altered and extended sometime around 1800, whilst the East wing was altered and partially rebuilt sometime around 1900.

Above. Tolson Hall from Hollins Lane to the South.

The hall contains a room with some 17th century panelling in, with a panel dated 1638, and the initials, T&AT for Thomas and Anne Tolson, the builders of the hall. Just like the Castle Dairy in the middle of Kendal, there is some late early 17th century glass in one of the ground floor windows, with the wording "God by this meanes, has sent what I on this house have spent" together with some illustrations of some tobacco pipes.

Above. A closer view of the South face of the hall.

Another window has the inscription "All prayse unto his name that gave the meanes to build the same."
Above. Sketches of two of the windows at Tolson Hall (taken from A History and Guide of Kendal, from personal collection)

There are other smaller windows with various coats of arms represented in them. It is thought that Thomas Tolson built Tolson hall from the profits he accrued from selling tobacco he imported from Virginia to Westmorland. The window with the inscription "God by this meanes, has sent what I on this house have spent" probably relates to the tobacco profits used to fund his lifestyle and his home.

Above. Tolson Hall's gatehouse from Hollins Lane.

The gatehouse on Hollins Lane was built sometime around 1800, and has towers with turrets and arrow slits. It is of course, nothing more than a folly.

Above. Tolson Hall's gatehouse from the South.

It is rumoured that, built into the thickness of one portion of particularly thick wall...some six feet thick, a small room was discovered. As is the norm with local legends, it is suggested that this may at one time have been used as a priest hide a Catholic priest in when Protestant administrators came visiting.

The hall later passed to the Bateman family, specifically James Bateman, who was responsible for commissioning the so called Elba monument in the field a few hundred yards away.
Tolson Hall can be viewed from the side of the road.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dalton Old Hall pele tower, Dalton Nr Burton in Kendal

Dalton Old Hall and pele tower
Near Burton In Kendal

A long tortuous walk through fields and woods looking for the public footpath markers that all seemed to have vanished, eventually saw me bagging one of the last South Lakes pele towers missing from my collection.

The old hall here, dates from the 17th century, evidenced by a surviving dated lintel with 1666 carved into it, but the real interest are the consolidated rubble remains to the North West of the farm house. 

Above. The West side of Dalton old Hall.

Some historians tell us that these rubble remains are all that now exists of a tower house that once stood next to the hall, and may at some point even have been part and parcel of the same at Burneside, Cowmire and other sites throughout the South Lakes area.

Above. Dalton Old Hall from the footpath to the North.

At first sight, the remains seem to be just a raised rubble filled area, measuring around 25 feet by 40 feet. The walls stand to around 6 feet tall, with a stepped entrance on the South....original or's very difficult to tell. There also appears to be a bricked up window or door in the West wall of this structure.

Above. Dalton Old Hall from the remains of the pele tower.

The interior of the remains appear to be divided by a thin (12 inch) cross wall, but it's nearly impossible to tell if this is an original feature, if it's been inserted at some point when it's been used for other purposes, or if it's an ornamental feature....the farmer told me that the top had, at some point in the past, been used as a children's garden.

Above. Looking into the two rooms in the last remains of the pele tower.

Looking from the West of the farm house, the structure is almost invisible behind its cover of ivy and other shrubs. If these remains are the last vestiges of a tower house, they are scant remains of what may at some point, have been an impressive defensive dwelling.  

Above. The hidden remains of the pele tower, behind the ivy.

Above. The pele tower with a bricked up window or door to the left.

Many towers and peles are built on a plinth of boulders, but it is impossible to tell if this is the case here due to the landscaping that has taken place around the base of the walls. It's also impossible to tell if the stepped entrance is in the place of an original doorway, and if, as shown above, the bricked up portion of the wall represents an old window or another doorway. There is obviously a huge amount of rubble now filling the interior of the structure nearly to the top of the wall. 

Above. Close up of the surviving West wall of the pele tower.
Above. The only surviving two walls of the pele tower.

Above. An original entrance into the pele tower?

I've scoured the internet and various texts for any additional information regarding the remains here at Dalton Old Hall...but to date, there seems to be nothing of any note that points to this definitely being a pele tower or tower house of any type. Still...I'm happy that I've been able to add it to my collection of sites.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Whether Fold, Kentmere Valley

Whether Fold
Kentmere Valley
Near Kendal

The River Kent begins its decent into Morecambe Bay from Lingmell End, flowing into Kentmere Reservoir, and then South through the Kentmere valley, into Kentmere tarn, and then onto Kendal. On its way, it passes through beautiful countryside scarred by years of slate mining, past pre-historic settlements, and runs along side the remains of more recent human activity. The following two photos show Whether Fold....a sheep fold about hundred yards from the reservoir's damn.

I have no idea how old this structure is...when it was built, or when it was last used.

Constructed of lime stone blocks and in a similar fashion to the dry stone walls that line the valley walls, it's a surprise that it's still standing. The river here is known to rise at an alarming rate when the rains cause the reservoir to overflow, and the fold is right in the path of the river. It doesn't seem to be a listed structure, but does seem to have had some consolidation work done on it over the years.

Townend, Troutbeck


Townend House stands about three miles east of Ambleside, in what must be one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District. The village of Troutbeck stretches along the Eastern side of the valley from Wansfell Pike, and consists of a number of traditionally built Lake District slate houses. Townend is said to be an excellent example of a virtually unchanged early 17th century 'yeoman's' house, and, owned by English Heritage, is open to explore.

Built in 1626, possibly on the site of an earlier house, some of the walls are exceptionally thick, suggesting that this may have been a fortified house at some time.....or the walls could just be thick to support the five huge Westmorland chimneys!!

It was built by George Browne as a family home, and surprisingly has survived pretty much intact and unchanged for the past 384 years. It seems that this incredible survival has given this family home a second lease of life with English Heritage. The North and South West wings probably date from the latter part of the 17th George Browne's house would have been slightly smaller than we see today.

Over the other side of the road is the Grade II listed barn, probably dating from 1666 (or so a date panel would inform us) The barn is probably overlooked by most people, making their way to check out Townend House, but I would recommend a good look at this mid 17th century building.

It consists of two wings either side of a central two storey section. There are shippons below and lofts above, with a beautiful, probably original, wooden gallery at the front.

Apparently the interior has an original queen post roof, consisting of a simple horizontal beam laid from wall to wall, with two vertical beams then supporting a higher horizontal beam, upon which the sloped roof sits.

The village of Troutbeck is certainly worth a visit, and the nearby Jesus church is a must.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Kirfitt Hall, near Kirkby Lonsdale

Kirfitt Hall
Near Kirkby Lonsdale

A beautiful Autumnal day out in Kirkby Lonsdale, and I thought I'd add a couple of new photos of the hall and its tower.

Above. Looking North West towards the tower with Casterton Park in the background.

Above. Close up of the hall and the camera...better zoom lens!!

Check the link for additional information on the hall.