Businesses in Abbeytown Towns and Villages of Cumbria


(See also Holme Cultram Abbey)

Abbeytown Cottage on Square Opposite Abbey by Graeme DougalAbbeytown sits by the River Waver in agricultural land once owned by the monks of Holme Cultram Abbey. Like the Abbey itself, the village felt the heavy hand of Scottish border Reivers.

Because of the flat, marshy land in the area, water dykes and drains were constructed to reclaim the area for cultivation. Rye, barley, oats, and potatoes were grown on the local farms.

Abbeytown Methodist Church and Cottages by Graeme DougalThe land also provided excellent pasture for horses and cattle, and a weekly market and two fairs a year traded in the livestock. Sheep were grazed for the lucrative wool trade, and salt was mined from the sea.

The pans, or salt cotes, were by owned by barons and usually given to churches. The abbey monks also had the right to dig turf and peat for heating pans, 9 by 8 feet in size, which were used to boil the brine and extract the salt. The slow heat made large salt crystals, which were collected in either wooden containers or wicker baskets.

Abbeytown Holm Cultram Abbey Bells and eagle by Graeme DougalA nearby hamlet, Abbey Cowper, was once called Cowbier after the cows kept there by the monks. South of the Abbey, Swinsty (now a private farm) served as a piggery for the monks.

Many of the village buildings were constructed from the Abbey's stones when it fell into ruin after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536. But the abbey's church remained to serve as a refuge for the people during border raids.

Abbeytown Holm Cultram Abbey the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin by Graeme DougalNow called the church of St Mary, the red sandstone building still serves the parish. In 1703 the church was restored with further work being done in 1883 and 1913. A false plaster roof was removed, exposing the 12th century oak beams, which were reused in making the 18th century roof. The 18th century bellcot has a bell of 1465.

An arched Norman doorway, with an added 1507 porch, survives on the west side. The 12th century aisled nave originally had nine bays but alterations in 1724-30 reduced their number to six.

Abbeytown Holm Cultram Abbey Interior by Graeme DougalParts of the original church are missing, including transepts and small chapels. The tower over the crossing collapsed in 1600. Robert the Bruce's father, Robert de Bruce Earl of Carrick, is buried here. The church contains a medieval font and two 17th century chests.

Holme Cultram was Cumbria's leading Cistercian abbey and is today the onlyCistercian abbey in England whose nave still serves as a place of worship.

Abbeytown Methodist Church and Village Street by Graeme DougalA three arched bridge was built near the church in 1770. A Methodist church is part of the village scene.

Abbeytown is near the Solway Coast and Moricambe Bay. The Cumbria Coastal Way passes nearby. Walkers will enjoy ambling along the River Waver and watching for wildlife.

Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal and by Barbara Ballard

Abbeytown is located on the B5302, four miles southeast of Silloth.

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