Businesses in Ireby Towns and Villages of Cumbria


Skiddaw from below Millbeck By Tony RichardsJust outside the Lake District National Park, Ireby is located 550 feet above sea level in what is called ‘the back of Skiddaw’-Skiddaw Peak, at 930 feet, and the Skiddaw Forest lie between Ireby and Keswick. Knott and Great Calva peaks look down upon what is, today, a quiet village, but was once a busy market town of the Ellen River Valley. Nearby Aughertree Fell was the site of a Bronze Age farm and vestiges of a pre-Roman road can still be seen.

Ireby received its market charter in 1237 and became a thriving corn and sheep market. Four minor roads meet in the village centre where a moot hall Cows in main street of Ireby courtesy of Woodlands Country House Hoteland butter cross give testimony to the village's former importance. Both cattle and horse fairs were held here. Ireby School was founded in 1726 to teach eight poor children of the parish. The village supported four pubs when the market was at its zenith.

The Sun pub was one of John Peel's watering holes-nearby Ruthwaite was his home. The Tun Inn was known for its regional dancing which included the Cumberland Square Eight and the Ninepins Reel. These dances, similar to Scottish country dances, were mistaken by the writer, John Keats, when visiting Ireby on a walking tour, for Scottish ones. He evidently liked the village and its people, making favorable comments about them in his writings.

Ireby Church By Barbara BallardOne and ½ miles north of the village in a field off a very narrow road lies the 12th century Ireby Old Church. It's best to walk there; the road is too narrow for parking. The chancel is all that remains of the original church. The stones of the church's nave were removed to construct, in Ireby, the new Gothic style church, St James, which opened on December 6th, 1846, at a cost of £500. A stained glass window was installed in the new church at the time of building. The old church's font with its four carved roundels was removed, along with two of the arcaded columns, to use in the new church. The old church's arcaded east wall, contains three lancets separated by Transitional Norman capitals dating from c1170. The 1880 vicarage is now a country house hotel.

A mile south of the village lies Over Water Tarn and a ghostly tale. Overwater Hall, now a hotel, was built in 1811 and purchased by a Mr. Gillbanks who made himself a fortune and a marriage in Jamaica. Unfortunately he also dallied with a poor Jamaican woman, who followed him to Overwater Hall when he returned. He took her secretly out to the middle of the tarn and threw her overboard. As she clung to the boat, he ruthlessly chopped off her arms. His secret was not discovered during his lifetime. But it seems the girl's armless ghost is seen on numerous occasions, especially at New Year's and particularly in Room 3 of the hotel.

Ireby, a peaceful and uncrowded country village, surrounded by natural beauty, is the perfect spot from which to explore northern Cumbria and enjoy the local walking and scenery.

Note: Do not confuse with High Ireby.

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Tony Richards , Woodlands Country House Hotel

Seven miles southwest of Wigton 18 miles south of Carlisle. Ireby is best approached from the south (good minor road) or east (B5299).

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