Penrith


photo by Dave Cross

Penrith is a quaint little market town in Cumbria, Northwest England. It is located in the Eden Valley, just north of the river Eamont and is less than 5 kilometres outside the borders of the Lake District National Park. Other rivers that run through the town are River Lowther and River Petteril. A manmade watercourse Thacka Beck flows through the middle of the town and connects the rivers Petteril and Eamont. For years down the line, Thacka Beck has been the main source of water supply for the people of Penrith.

Penrith does not have its own town council. It is the least populated area without a parish only next to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Penrith was historically a part of Cumberland. The local administrative authority however is the Eden District Council which is based in Penrith. This was originally the seat of both the Penrith Urban and Rural District Councils.

St. Andrew’s is the main church of Penrith and was built in the 17th century from 1720 to 1722 in a Grecian style of architecture. It abuts a 13th century tower. The churchyard is home to many ancient crosses and hogback tombstones. These are now known as the “Giant’s Grave” and “Giant’s Thumb”. These are actually the remains of a Norse cross which dates back to 920 AD.

The ruins and remains of the Penrith Castle (dated 13th to 15th century) can be seen from the adjacent railway station. The ruins have been declared as a heritage site and are being run as a tourist attraction by the English Heritage. More ruins of the Brougham Castle which are also being maintained by the English Heritage can be seen in the south east of Penrith.

There are ancient “henge” sites to the south of the town. They are referred to as the “Mayburgh Henge” and “King Arthur’s Round Table”. Both these are being protected by the English Heritage.

The Clock Tower in the centre of the town which was erected in 1861 as a dedication to Philip Musgrave of Edenhall is another popular attraction amongst tourists.

There are a number of wells in and around Penrith for which the town is famous.
There are also a number of festivals and well-dressing ceremonies that take place in May. “Giant Caves” which is three miles south-east of Penrith on the River Eamont is home to a well which was built to commemorate St. Ninian. The caves were carved out of Lower Permian sandstones and their breccias and purple shale.

Beacon Hill is another popular attraction. It is a wooded signal-beacon hill to the north of Penrith. Studies suggest that it must have been used last in 1804 in the war against Emperor Napoleon. The Beacon Pike served as a watchtower to warn any danger being posed from Scotland. Lowther Estates owns the commercial woodland that surrounds the area today. However the hills do contain natural woodlands and these are very popular among tourists and visitors. On a clear day one can see the Eden Valley, the adjoining fells, Pennines and parts of North Lakes. A look at the scenery along with Beacon Hill will justify the name of Penrith. (The name is derived from the Celtic Language in which Penrith means “red hill”).

Source: Wikipedia – under the GNU Free Doc Licence