|Businesses in Orton||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
Orton Scar stands guard over the ancient and attractive village of Orton. The beacon on this limestone hill was lit as a warning signal of Scottish border raiders. The dramatic scenery of the Scar was used in the filming of “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”.
Bridges cross and re-cross the two village becks enclosing a small central green that shares space with 17th and 18th century cottages. White washed and original stone colours coexist in a harmonious whole. Old wooden village stocks decorate the green. A 1604 door lintel dates one house, Petty Hall. A 1717 stone house in the village now serves as a tearoom, providing food from traditional recipes. In 1809 a grammar school was established, and, in 1828, the village formed a Book Club and library. A Wesleyan chapel was built in 1833.
Orton Hall, a grade II listed Jacobean mansion, built of stone in 1662, is a self-catering establishment for travellers. Richard Burn (1709-1785) lived in the hall and served as parish vicar for 49 years.
All Saints Church, built of stone in 1293 on a knoll, is thought to have had a central tower. Much altered by restoration through the centuries, it retains a large 16th century west tower, meant for defense in the border raids. The tower houses a peel of eight bells.
A chapel once stood in the south transept. The early 17th century church porch survives. The font, dated 1662, is of carved red sandstone. The pulpit is the top part of a 1742 three decker one. In the church are two ancient chests, one used to distribute bread to the poor and another a parish chest hollowed out of a tree. The later had three locks necessitating three persons be present for its opening. When the church was restored in 1877, five stained glass windows were added. Another window is of the 20th century.
Orton's most famous inhabitant was George Whitehead (1636-1723), one of the founders of the Quaker Movement. He, like most Quakers of the time, was not popular and suffered imprisonment. He was instrumental in obtaining Quaker rights that were spelled out in the Quaker Magna Carta of 1696.
Orton was granted a market charter c.1275 by Edward I. In 1658, Oliver Cromwell granted another charter for a weekly market and an annual Whitsun fair. Other fairs were added and sheep and cattle traded.
Northeast of the village is a limestone quarry. In 1855 a stonemason company, Parkin, was founded in Orton. Five years later it moved to Crosby Ravensworth. Orton Scar limestone is still quarried, and the stone sold. It is fine grained and comes in shades of grey and brown.
Walks from the village lead over Orton Scar, a place of deep fissures that support ferns and wildflowers. Behind Orton Scar lies Castle Folds, a small fort and wall constructed to hold cattle during Scottish raids. One mile east of Orton is an ancient circle c100 yards in circumference. Here an ancient human skeleton was uncovered. In the 19th century Roman jewels were found on a nearby hill.
The Lake District, the Eden Valley, and the Yorkshire Dales all beckon from the village. Set amidst green fields in the midst of trees, Orton's rural character makes for a tranquil setting.
Orton still has a thriving monthly farmers' market.
Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal
Orton on B6260 road to Tebay.
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