Businesses in Broughton in Furness Towns and Villages of Cumbria

Broughton in Furness

Broughton in Furness By Julian ThurgoodOn the southern edge of the Lake District National Park, Broughton in Furness serves a large rural community of hill farmers. Surrounded on three sides by grey, terraced Georgian houses, mainly of the 18th century, the village's large main square echoes its past importance as a market centre for wool, oak baskets, cattle, and coppice wood products.

Princes Street Broughton in Furness by Tony Richards Lakeland CamThe village's fair charter dates to Elizabethan times, and its importance continues in a celebratory way when, on August 1st each year, the charter is read out in the square. After the reading, pennies are thrown from the steps of the large grey obelisk that dominates the square. It was commissioned to mark the Golden Jubilee of King George III, held in 1810. The former 1766 Market Hall is now home to the Tourist Information Centre. Other reminders of the past are the village stocks and the stone fish slabs, from which the catch of the day was sold.

Broughton in Furness was always popular as a strategic site, situated where the River Duddon broadens into an estuary. The Romans, Celts, and Vikings used it as a jumping off spot for invasion and settlement. Broughton's name may come from an Old English word meaning ‘stronghold’. It is also likely to be derived from berg, a hill, and ton, a town, both Saxon words. It was referred to in 1196 as Brocton, which means ‘settlement by the brook’.

Broughton Tower By Julian ThurgoodClose to the Scottish border, the area was also prey to raids from Scotland. In 1322 a pele tower was built by the Broughton family for defensive purposes. In 1487 the family made the mistake of aligning itself with the doomed uprising by Lambert Simnel (see article on Piel Island). The tower, complete with dungeons, evolved into a late 18th century manor house. Belonging to only two families-the Earls of Derby until 1651, and then the Sawreys, the manor house was recently converted into private flats.

Princes Street Broughton in Furness by Tony Richards Lakeland CamThe 300-year-old Old King's Head, an historic building in the town, is one of the oldest inns in the Lake District. The first recorded comment on the inn was in 1666, when it was called Church House. Still known for its traditional ales, it was also a posting house. Evidence of this is an original manger in the wall of the restaurant. Another village pub, the Manor Arms, also has a reputation for fine traditional ale. Since the 18th century, names have been carved into the oak mantle over the ‘basket’ fireplace.

The village was home to Branwell Bronte, brother of the Bronte sisters, for a short time. Both Wordsworth and 20th century poet Norman Nicholson, who lived in nearby Millom, found the beauty of the area a literary inspiration. Wordworth was especially fond of the River Duddon and wrote a series of sonnets about it. The first one ends

“Pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free, and bright,
For Duddon, long-loved Duddon, is my theme. . . .”

while sonnet 32 begins

“Majestic Duddon over smooth flat sands
Gliding in silence with unfettered sweep!. . .”

St Mary's Church exterior By Julian ThurgoodSouth of the village is the parish church, St Mary Magdalene. Although consecrated in 1547, it dates to Norman times. The large Norman style nave and archway, Saxon walls, and an 18th century clock tower intermingle in a mix of styles. Parts of the Norman door, porch, and wall also remain. Rebuilt and renovated in slate stone and red sandstone in 1874, the church mostly reflects the Victorian neo-Norman style. Church treasures include a 1595 Elizabethan Bible, an oak chest, and a 15th St Mary's Church interior By Julian Thurgoodcentury bell. Stained glass windows abound, one designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Like a number of Lake District spots, the church is noted for its daffodils in the springtime.

Many interesting Furness attractions lie nearby. One, the Duddon Furnace, is located 100 yards from Duddon Bridge down the road from Broughton in Furness. A high furnace stack built of local stone marked the spot. Considered the most complete surviving charcoal-Duddon Iron Works By Julian Thurgoodfired furnace in England, it reflects a time when the large quantity of coal in the area was used to fuel furnaces for making pig iron. Established by the Cunsey Company in 1736 and operated for more than 100 years, the furnace's products were turned into iron products for ships.

One half mile from the River Duddon, Broughton in Furness is a popular spot for walkers and cyclers (the Cumbria Cycle Way and Coastal Way are both nearby). Scenery, nearby nature reserves, the Furness fells, and Lakeland attractions make this quiet village in a Duddon Valley hollow a spot to stop and enjoy.

Broughton Tower is not open to the public.

Photos courtesy Julian Thurgood and Tony Richards

Broughton in Furness is on the A593/595.

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