|Businesses in Aldingham||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
On the coast looking across to Morecambe Bay is a small village, Aldingham, of which only a part supposedly survives. Said to once be a mile long, legend claims that storms and tidal waves washed away many of the early cottages and that the church was once the centre of the village. Never large-only about 600 persons lived here in 1800-the village was the site of a settlement in Saxon times and is recorded in the Domesday Book.
Scholars disagree on the origin of Aldingham's name. One source says it comes from Hald-hing-ham, meaning a habitation near hanging stones. Another that it comes from eald, meaning old, ing, meaning a meadow or pasture, and ham, a habitation. Still another source states it comes from ‘the village of Alda's people’.
King John, in 1199, granted to the area a court leet and baron. Henry III, in the 1200's, granted Furness Abbey the manorial rights of Aldingham. In 1269 the manor came into the possession of the de Caunesfield family, then later passed to other families. By 1457 it belonged to the Greys, Marquises of Dorset. Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, was beheaded for high treason against Queen Mary in 1554, and the manor passed into the hands of the crown. Until 1974, Aldingham was part of Lancashire.
St Cuthbert's Church, in the village, was named after the saint whose body rested here when his disciples fled from the Danes. The church underwent restoration during the time of Henry V, but still retains three columns in the south aisle and a circular door of an older building, possibly dating before the 13th century.
A nave, chancel, two side aisles, and a three-bell tower are features of the church, along with the royal arms of Queen Victoria, who visited in 1848. A crooked chancel arch is not a building mistake but was purposedly made to represent Christ with his head leaning.
Like many coastal villages, Aldingham had the reputation of being a smuggler's village. Brandy from France and tobacco from America were supposedly hidden in the church crypt. At one time a tide mill ground grain in Aldingham. The village's location close to Furness Abbey, in an area where deposits of iron ore were mined, meant trade routes passed through-at low tide by horse or foot and at high tide by boat.
A footpath along the shore gives view across the bay and of the birds that nest in the shingle and pebble beach, breeding their young, nicknamed “stone runners”. The area was used to raise rabbits in Norman times. In modern times its habitat supports butterflies. Only a few cottages and a hall near the church exist to mark this small Cumbrian village.
Photos courtesy Graeme Dougal and Allerdale Tourism
Aldingham is 4 miles northeast of Barrow-in-Furness, off the A5087.
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