Moving on from the fabulous Wetheral Priory Gatehouse, a 14th century monument just outside the Village, we arrived in the centre of Wetheral, to explore the Village green…
Status: City of Carlisle District, Cumbria (historically Cumberland), Village, England
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Wetheral Priory Gatehouse, Village Green, Old Cross, Wetheral Viaduct, River Eden, Parish Church, Crown Hotel, Green Farm, Holy Trinity Church etc
The area around the green is the historic centre of Wetheral, with the rest of the village expanding outwards from it. You can just spot the Wetheral Cross standing at the top left of the square, but more on that in a moment.
Around the square is a variety of old cottages, as well as Georgian buildings. Some more modern developments have also taken up residence, however they all blend in well with the surrounding green. If you look at the Listed Buildings register for Wetheral, there are well over 60 entries for the beautiful old buildings that make up the village (and the surrounding parish), including one called Eden Bank, located next to the train station. Sadly we didn’t know about it until afterwards so I didn’t get a picture, but it’s a fine brick built structure from 1834. You can look at the register here.
Above is an example of the buildings around the Green, and my favourite is in picture 3. This beautiful Listed Victorian building, called Eden Mount, was constructed in 1872, for a tea merchant, and is made out of brick. The tower/turret on top is a great design feature, and it really stands as you explore the Village.
In picture 2 is another Listed Building, called Green Farm, built as a Farmhouse in the late 18th century. It looks like it has been modernised, and the Listed Buildings register indicates the addition of modern fixtures in the 20th century. There are so many buildings with different character around the Green you can take a trip through the last few centuries just doing a full circle around it. The other buildings, whilst not being listed, are still stunning examples of architecture in the Village.
Earlier I mentioned the Wetheral Cross, which stands in the top left corner of the Village green. It is also a Listed Building, and was built in two stages. The steps predate the rest of the cross, having been constructed in 1814. The main shaft of the Cross was formerly used as a Maypole, and incorporated with the steps to form the Cross in 1844. It stands 3.5 metres tall, and is made out of red sandstone.
When it was originally built, the Cross stood in the centre of the Green, but was later moved to it’s current position, and I am unsure why at the moment.
We took the Car from the Green down to the train station, and just before we got there we passed this stunning Georgian House, called the Crown Hotel. You can’t even tell that it was actually built as two houses, presumably joined together but they would still have appeared outwardly different. It is another of the many Grade II Listed structures in the Village, and one of the most impressive.
Built around 1800, it was as I say two different houses, although I am unsure exactly when it became a unified building, however the Listed Buildings register states that it had become an Inn by 1838, and the terminology used suggests the it refers to the two parts as one building. The reason it became an Inn was the arrival of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, which still operates today, through Wetheral Station and over the Viaduct, where we were headed next. As for the Inn, it was taken over in 1916 by the Central Control Board, and after it was de-nationalised in 1973 it was sold into private hands and became the Crown Hotel.
It’s the perfect place to stay, within a few minutes walk of both the Green and the riverside, as the River Eden flows beneath the Viaduct. It’s an idyllic place for River walks, and the countryside stretches out on all sides. You can visit their official site here.
The Station is just around the corner, with hourly trains in either direction. Travelling West – Carlisle, with some services continuing on to Glasgow Central via Gretna Green, Annan, Dumfries and Kilmarnock, or Whitehaven via Maryport and Workington. Travelling East – Newcastle via Brampton, Haltwhistle, Hexham and Gateshead, with some services running through to Middlesbrough via Sunderland, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees. It’s a great route, as it passes through the mainly rural surroundings of North East Cumbria and Northumberland, before heading into the more built up areas around Newcastle.
Just 7 minutes outside of Carlisle, the station opened originally with a Ticket Office, however that became a private residence after the station closed in 1967. It later reopened in 1981 but it remains unstaffed. The station is on the Tyne Valley Line (Carlisle – Newcastle) however it was once also part of the same general line that operated even more stations, many of which are now shut including one in nearby Scotby.
On the Viaduct, on the side across the rails from the car park, you can actually walk along it, with a fence separating you from the tracks. As I said before trains only run around twice an hour, one each way so they aren’t very regular, however some good strains do go past occasionally.
The view from here is fantastic, and the in distance we could see the spire of Holme Eden Church, near the village of Warwick Bridge. The Eden also flows through here, as the name of the Church suggests. On a clear day you can see for miles from here, and we were actually stood 100 feet above the river.
Crossing back to the Car Park, there is a set of 99 steps down to the riverside, underneath the Viaduct itself. The Bridge is actually called Corby Bridge, and was built between 1831 and 1834, to designs by Francis Giles, a Civil Engineering (1787 – 1847). The builder for the project was called William Denton, and this masterpiece is still standing strong today, with the Eden flowing between the giant supports. As I said, it stands 100 metres tall, and is also a staggering 660 feet long.
A walk down the river is a nice relaxing pass time, and there are some dwellings visible on the far side of the river, new modern houses. On our walk we also found a very ornate bench, carved out of stone with stone cushions attached to the seats, and large wings at either end.
From here the Eden runs through to the city of Carlisle, and out into the Solway Firth where it meets the river Sark from Gretna. The Sark forms the border between England and Scotland, and Carlisle is the last city before the border.
Also by the riverside, are some beautiful Grade II Listed Cottages, adding to the amazing portfolio of old buildings in the village. The building pictured is one of these, and is called Edenside Cottage. Built in the last 18th century, it has stunning limestone walls, with some made of brick. The bottom floor is the original 18th century construction, as the top floor was added in the 19th, taking it from a cottage to a house.
It sits alongside it’s neighbour, River House, built in the 19th century, and completest the trio of Listed Buildings that includes the two cottages and Corby Bridge.
Our last stop in Wetheral was Holy Trinity Church. We had kept walking down the riverside, and we reached a small road that leads back up to the Village Green where we started, and we would return to the car from there. On the road we passed this stunning stone Church, and had a wander around the Churchyard to inspect it closer. Sadly the main door was locked, as are many small Churches, open only for services. The building itself dates back to the 16th century, but there have been a few additions and restorations since then.
The buildings standout feature has to be the Octagonal Tower at the front, which was built in 1790 along with the main door. Large parts of the Church we rebuilt in the 19th Century, as the Chancel was rebuilt in 1872, and the top of the tower restored in 1882. The entrance to the Churchyard is made up of a large wooden porch which you walk through, and this also doubles as a War Memorial to the World Wars and all subsequent conflicts.
Wetheral is a beautiful little village with an array of Grade II Listed Buildings full of history, as well as great riverside walks and a scenic train ride as you head out of the village towards either Carlisle or Newcastle. Local buses also connect the village to Carlisle.
Our next stop was the town of Brampton, only 6.5 miles away…