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‘The place of St Patrick's ash tree’ may be the meaning of Aspatria, but the town is best known for its church of St Kentigern. An avenue of yew trees leads to the site where a Norman church once stood. It was demolished to build the larger stone St Kentigern, in 1846-48 in the Early English style. Some Norman parts were incorporated into the new church: a former chancel arch, a 12th century carved font, and a doorway.
Stained glass windows were added to the new church that consists of a nave, chancel, aisles, and clock tower for chimes and bells. A parapet and pinnacles decorate the tower. In the church are a carved Viking hogback tombstone and 10th-11th century carved stones, reminding visitors that this was a sacred place of worship before the Normans came. An early Saxon cross is carved with knotwork. Two fragments of white sandstone crosses are carved with scrolls and interlaced ornaments. Three carved tablets list the names of vicars who served the church. The churchyard boasts a holy well, supposedly used by St Kentigern for baptisms.
Religion was important to the town in the 1800's. In addition to St Kentigern's, a Primitive Methodist Chapel (1895), a Congregational chapel (1826), a Baptist chapel (1886), and a Wesleyan chapel (1896) were constructed and consecrated.
Settled more than 3000 years ago, the town saw lots of traffic, situated as it was along a Roman road. A large Saxon hall stood on Richmond Hill. The Vikings invaded, and Scottish border raiders dropped in. Traffic continued to pass through Aspatria. A stagecoach inn dates to the 1700's. Coal, stone quarries, and sawmills kept the town going in the 1800's.
A memorial fountain in the town honours the temperance movement's supporter, MP Sir Wilfred Lawson (1829-1906). Erected in 1908, it is inlaid with four bronze tablets. A red stone Market Hall sits in the town centre, which is now a fitness centre. Other stone buildings in town date to the 19th century.
On the edge of town is Castlemont, a large 1900's stone mansion built for the mine manager. A stone hall, Brayton, now demolished, lay 1½ miles east. A golf course occupies part of the former grounds. Another nearby country home, Gill House, was said to be haunted by an evil spirit during World War II.
In 1790, Beacon Hill, just north of Aspatria, revealed a 6th century burial barrow complete with skeleton, gold bucklet, gold ornament, dagger, horse's bit, parts of a battle axe and spur, and a sword inlaid with silver. The barrow was 90 feet in circumference.
Sitting above the Ellen River valley, Aspatria is on the main transportation route between Maryport and Carlisle.
Aspatria is on the A596, 8 miles northeast of Maryport on Cumbria's west coast.
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