Businesses in Dalton-in-Furness Towns and Villages of Cumbria


(See also South Lakes Wild Animal Park , Dalton Castle)

Dalton town square courtesy of Graeme DougalEven before Furness Abbey was constructed near Dalton, the site was important. It's close to the sea on the narrowed Furness peninsula, but, at the same time, far enough away to provide a somewhat safe haven for early villagers to escape the sea pirates who roamed the area. A supply of fresh water was nearby and the small hillside plateau provided a measure of defence.

Dalton town square courtesy of Graeme DougalDalton, named Daltune in the Domesday Book, was inhabited in prehistoric times, and man left his mark here in the form of prehistoric tools, such as stones axes and hammers. In 1874, Butts Beck and Goldmire, two quarrying operations, revealed the graves of two early warriors.

Before modern times this somewhat isolated area of Cumbria was reachable by two methods other than the sea. One was through the dangerous forests and hills that were alive with bandits. The other route Dalton United Reform Church courtesy of Graeme Dougalwas across the sands of Morecambe Bay at low tide. This route required a guide to avoid quicksands and catch the tide at the right time.

Furness Abbey, founded in 1123 by Stephen, who later became King of England, first belonged to the Order of Savigny and then to the Cistercians. Located a mile south of Dalton, it employed many local people and gave the town much importance. The monks held their courts at Dalton, and the town soon became the medieval capital of the Furness region. The markets and the annual October fair held by the Cistercian monks were an important economic feature of the times.

Dalton Castle courtesy of Graeme DougalIn the 1300's Scottish border raiders threatened, and the monks constructed Dalton Castle as a pele tower to provide a secure stronghold. A local armed force helped out. Outfitted with swords, bows, cross bows, and spears,they would assemble on Goose Green and march to Butt Beck to practice their skills.

After the closure of the abbeys during the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47), Dalton began an economic decline. Crop failure in the late 1500's brought much hardship. The plague was a foe to be reckoned with as well. Then, in the 17th century, the main market shifted to the town of Furness.

Dalton War Memorial courtesy of Graeme DougalIn 1644 during the Civil War two battles were fought at Dalton. Both the Parliamentarian and Royalist armies made free with the town, plundering its assets. A battle was fought between the two sides at Lindal Close on the road to Dalton. Another battle took place near Furness Abbey. The Parliamentarians won one battle, the Royalists another.

The 1800's was a peak time for mining iron ore in the Furness countryside, and Park Mine brought new economic benefits to Dalton.

Dalton St Marys Parish Church courtesy of Graeme DougalSt Mary's Church, Gothic is style, sits by the market place and Dalton Castle. It was built of local red sandstone in 1882-85. Until 1825 the floor of the church was still made of earth. Victorian architects Austin and Paley designed St Mary's, and it is considered one of their showpieces. The square tower holds a peal of six bells. Inside is a 14th century font and Victorian stained glass.

The site is one where a church sat as far back as the late 12th century. The dead were brought from Hawkshead to Dalton for burial until the mid 13th-14th centuries because there were no churches in the Hawkshead area.

George Romney (1734-1802), a well-known portrait painter, was born in Dalton and is buried in the churchyard. His gravestone is marked ‘Pictor Celeberrimus’. Examples of his work are in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery at Kendal.

Dalton drinking fountain Queen Victoria 1887 courtesy of Graeme DougalFor the visitor today, Market Place, Market Street, and Church Street show off historic building facades. One such is a cast iron shop front at Market Place. An 18th century farmhouse is now a pub, the Mason's Arms. There was, at one time, a village green. It is now the site of the bus terminal. The first school building in Dalton was built in 1622 near the vicarage close to Goose Green. A Victorian drinking fountain made with fluted columns and an ironwork dome, a market cross, and stone fish slabs decorate Market Square.Dalton Red Lion Pub courtesy of Graeme Dougal

Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal

Dalton-in-Furness is 3 miles southeast of Askham in Furness and 4.5 miles north of Barrow-in-Furness on the A590/595.

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