Cottage History

My sister and I inherited the cottage from our aunt in 2000, but we’ve been coming here since she bought it in 1966. The two cottages were originally one farmhouse, probably an extension of a longhouse dating back at least to the mid 17th century.  We have a copy of the parish records showing all the residents from 1663.  At one time it served also as a ‘beer house’ for the workers at  the Walna Scar slate quarry, hence the unusually wide front door, for rolling the barrels in.  The nearby Low Moss House was owned by the lessor of the quarry, a Mr. Turner, who lived there with his large family, and housed some of the workers upstairs. He’s buried in Seathwaite churchyard.


Anthony Hartley lives at the farm house, a listed building.  He has some Swaledale sheep, but most are Herdwicks, a rare breed found mainly in Cumbria, possibly of Viking origin, bred by Beatrix Potter on her various farms, - she won many prizes, and so does Anthony.  They are small and slow-growing, but hardy, sure-footed and well ‘heafed’, - i.e., they don’t stray. The lambs are born with dark brown fleeces, the colour gradually fading.  The meat is now being marketed locally, and you can buy lovely rugs etc at the Ulpha shop and at Tysons in Broughton.

The Newfield Inn is centuries old, was originally a farmhouse as well, and has a striated slate floor, (each line corresponds to a volcanic eruption).  Wordsworth and Dorothy loved walking up the valley to stay at the Newfield, where the landlord was a relative.  He wrote 29 sonnets about the Duddon – see his collected works at cottage.

The church is Victorian, and the parsonage opposite is early 18th century.  The Rev. Walker, born at Undercragg near High Moss, moved into it with his new wife in 1763.  He was a remarkable man, known as Wonderful Walker.  He went into the ministry because of his poor health, and was paid £5 pa.  He became a successful sheep farmer and taught the local children in the church while spinning wool. The stone he used for shearing sheep is outside the entrance to the church. He had a large family, and they only ate meat on Sundays, when it was shared with parishioners, many of whom would have walked a considerable distance to go to church. He was also Steward of the Manor of Dunnerdale-with-Seathwaite.

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