|Businesses in Longtown||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
The pleasant village of Longtown, on the south bank of the river Esk, is the site of the largest sheep market in England. Cattle are also auctioned here.
In 1757, Longtown was the beneficiary of Rev. Robert Graham, who inherited the nearby Netherby Estates. He drained 1000 acres of marshy land and built roads. Villages of well-built homes for farmer-tenants and schools for their children took shape. He also made books available to the townspeople.
Graham built Netherby Hall (mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's book Marmion-the heiress elopes with Lochinvar) by adding on to existing buildings owned by his forebears. Roman antiquities were found during the digging. He planted gardens and improved the surrounding grounds. The library was filled with his collection of books. He also built a stone room (called a coop) by the river for salmon watching. It was eventually turned into a home, then fell into decay. Now restored, it is rented for self-catering holidays.
The red sandstone estate church, St Andrew (Kirk Andrews upon Esk), is on the opposite side of the river to the Hall and is reached by a pedestrian bridge. The 1776 church is a rebuilding of an earlier one and was, itself, restored in 1893. It has touches of the Italian culture in its design.
Longtown's parish church, dedicated to St. Michael, stands on land once called Arthur's Head. The parish name became Arthuret. The Gothic-styled church was built in 1609, but, unfortunately, the people employed to do the work made off with part of the money, so the tower remained incomplete until 1690. In 1750, the church was renovated and a new slate roof was added. A cross in the churchyard represents the knights of Malta. One of the personages buried in the graveyard is a man who was jester to both James I and Charles I.
In 1837, a stone workhouse, built in 1821 near the village, was enlarged. It provided accommodation for c60-100 poor. In 1840, 200 of the village's 2000 inhabitants were weavers, in the employ of Carlisle merchants.
Because of its location close to the Scottish border, Longtown's history was not a peaceful one. Border Reivers often raided the area for cattle and other goods. Nearby lies the site of the famous 1542 Battle of Solway Moss, fought between the Scottish and the English armies. James V had defeated the English at Haddon Rig in August 1542 and then decided to invade England with approximately 10,000 men. Sir Thomas Wharton, with only 3000 English, met him at Solway Moss.
The Scottish had internal problems: disagreement between the nobles themselves, their dislike of their commander, Oliver Sinclair, and the desertion of nobles before the battle started. Many of the Scottish foot soldiers, not loyal to unpopular James V, wanted no part of the engagement. On the date of the battle, November 24th, many threw away their weapons and retreated. More than 1200 surrendered to the English. James V fled to Edinburgh and, two weeks later, he died at Linlithgow Palace.
The Solway Firth later became a handy place for smugglers to land their contraband goods. Now it's popular with birdwatchers looking for wading birds and wildfowl. A 60-acre country park, Oakbank, outside Longtown offers fishing, a bird sanctuary, lakes, and walks.
Longtown, with its attractive 18th century bridge, makes a good starting point for walks along the River Esk and through the surrounding countryside.
Buses run between Carlisle and Longtown.
The church key can be obtained from the vicarage.
Longtown is located 9 miles north of Carlisle and three miles south of the Scottish border.
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