Appleby in Westmorland, a small town in the Eden Valley, Cumbria, but truly packed with history and uniqueness. Last year we showed a series of posts on the Appleby Horse Fair, a week or so where the town gets full with visitors, travellers and of course horses. But, Appleby in Westmorland is so much more than that, and that small window of time in the year… I can assure you. Built within a great loop of the River Eden it is surrounded by mountains, open countryside, river beauty.. but let’s look within.
Of course I have a bond with the town.. it is the nearest town to where I currently live, but often it is wonderful to look around, see and learn about the interesting spots and buildings that have shaped the place into the pretty town we have today. I will not be showing ALL today by any means. Some things need and deserve a post of their own. So much interesting info. Here lets take a small look through.
In the days of pre 1974, with the old county boundaries, the town was simply called Appleby. It was the capital town of the county of Westmorland before all the changes. The name change to Appleby in Westmorland preserved and recognised a connection to the past. Speaking of the past, there are many figures known through history that have connections to the town. To name a couple we have:
George Washington – his father went to Appleby Grammar School, and George’s two older brothers were thus sent over from Virginia to be educated here too. When George was 11 his father died and that ended George Washington’s chance to follow on and have the same full education over here. Looking over to America you will see George has his birthplace in a county named after this Cumbrian area – Westmoreland, Virginia.
MPs to Prime Ministers – William Pitt the Younger and Viscount Howick (2nd Earl Grey) were members of parliament for the town.
And those that know the life of Beatrix Potter will still find a Heelis Solicitors here.
The main image at the top of this post shows Moot Hall, dated 1596, built for the town’s administration. The ground floor now hosts the font of great local knowledge, the Tourist Information Centre. The top floor still does host the council meetings. At the top of Boroughgate, looking out over the town is Appleby Castle, we shall take a big closer look at this great building soon.
If you have ever driven through you will most probably have noticed the white crosses, one at the top, one at the bottom of Boroughgate. These do mark were the old markets used to be. The pic above shows the bottom cross, beside it is now an oval shaped little car park for shoppers and the Saturday market. With the road running around it you can see how it used to be the bull tethering ring ‘Bull Ring’. The high cross, shown below was the site of the cheese market.
Another big landmark in the centre of town is St Lawrence’s Church. The arched cloisters taking you from the bustling road to peace and calm almost immediately.
In the past I have been mentioning Lady Anne Clifford many times, her tireless work restoring all the castles and properties she was left, for example Brougham Castle nearby. Appleby castle became her main home and she gave a lot of work and help to the people of the town. In the 17th century she restored the church. Looking inside you will find the monuments to Lady Anne and her mother, Lady Margaret Clifford.
Around and through the town of course you have the looping River Eden. This itself is full of hidden treasures, from wildlife and woodland to great architectural backdrops.
The bridge above is the main thoroughfare to get into town from the east…. but upstream you can find some natural wonder. By Jubilee Foot Bridge (below) there is a weir where the water drops a few feet down, stretching across the waterway. In Autumn, this spot gives rise to the spectacle and a great view of salmon jumping up to get ‘up river’. Not only do we know this but a pair of Herons are also seen patrolling or standing motionless across the top of the drop, waiting to catch their jumping dinner. Quite a spectacle.
For those with patience and quiet timing you can often also see Otters swimming around in the river. In fact there is a huge array of birds and flowers. Take the time, any time of year to see what you can find.
If you have explored any length of the River Eden you could quite well have seen one of the 10 Eden Benchmarks. Stone sculptures that act as seats, all designed by different artists to mark the turn of the new millennium. There are ten in total along the river and Appleby is home to one of them – The primrose Stone.
This was just a taster. There is so much more to see and there is so much more to tell. I will be breaking the area down over time to cover other buildings, monuments, natural wonders and historical spots, here, in more detail….
Remember, the Tourist Information Office is in Moot Hall. I would highly recommend the town circular walk that they can help you with. Maps, photos, illustrations and a booklet packed with info for every turn.