Kirkby Hall

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameKirkby Hall
Alternative NamesCross House; Kirkby Ireleth; Kirkby Cross
Historic CountryLancashire
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishKirkby Ireleth

Site of C12 residence or the Kirkbys. Formerly Cross House. An important survival of an early manor house. The east wing is circa 1450, the hall and West wing circa 1530. On the first floor is a chapel with wall paintings. The hall is now a farmhouse. Its original name derives from a cross which once stood at the South-east angle of the court, overlooking the village green. The presence of a newel stair in the first hall may indicate that the earliest building was fortified. (PastScape)

KIRKBY HALL, originally known as the Crosshouse, stands about a mile to the north of Beckside village on an eminence gently sloping to the south, from which side it is approached through a modern avenue of beeches and sycamores leading to an open space in front of the house. The building, now a farm-house, is of two stories, with rough-cast walls, cylindrical chimneys and slated roofs, and externally is of little architectural interest, the windows being all low mullioned openings without transoms, and the roof at the south, or principal, front having an unbroken ridge with overhanging eaves and a hip at the west end, which gives the house a rather undistinguished appearance. The plan, however, is interesting. The hall occupies the middle of the house with a parlour or withdrawing room at the west end, to the north of which is a smaller room, forming a north-west wing under a lower gabled roof. The east wing, which is set at an irregular angle to the front and goes back about 60 ft., contains the kitchen and other rooms on the ground floor and may be the oldest part of the house, and attached to it at the north end is a small wing running eastward of two stories, which was at one time accessible both from the kitchen and from the room above. To the south-west of the front is a detached building measuring externally 32 ft

by 24 ft., now cut up for farm purposes and a good deal modernized, standing at a different angle, the original use of which can now scarcely be determined. The south front is 76 ft. in length, with low mullioned windows to both stories and a doorway with depressed fourcentred red sandstone arch and splayed and moulded jambs. The door opens to the east end of the hall by a passage, at the north end of which is a circular oak staircase. The partition is modern, but apparently takes the place of an older screen. The hall measures about 25 ft. by 24 ft. up to the partition and is lit on the south side by two windows, one of three lights and the other a bay 8 ft. wide by 5 ft. 6 in. deep, of four lights and one on each return, in the south-west corner. There is also a single-light window, now blocked up, in the north-east corner, and on the north side a fireplace opening 9 ft. wide with segmental arch. From the hall a door opens in the south-west corner to the parlour or withdrawing room, now divided into two by a partition, but originally 24 ft. by 12 ft. 6 in., lit at the south end by a window of four lights and by a widely splayed opening in the west wall to the north of the fireplace. From the north-west corner of the hall an oblique passage with hollow-chamfered doorway leads to a small room now used as a dairy, 13 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft. 9 in., which has been lighted by at least two windows, one only of which, in the north-west corner, a narrow single light, now blocked up, retains its dressings. The east wing contains three rooms on the ground floor, the largest of which, on the north side, measuring 22 ft. by 16 ft. 6 in., is the kitchen. The fireplace opening at the north end is 11 ft. wide, but is now built up and a modern range inserted. In the west face of the chimney recess a small door opens into a closet 5 ft. by 3 ft. in the thickness of the wall, lit by a small window now blocked up, and there is a closet about 9 ft. long on the first floor immediately above. The kitchen is lit by a window on the east side, but there are also a narrow window at the north-west corner and a doorway immediately opposite, leading to the later north-east wing, both of which are built up. The south end of the east wing is occupied by an irregularly shaped room 18 ft. 6 in. by 13ft. 6 in. lighted by a three-light window to the front, and between this and the kitchen is a small room, now used as a coal cellar, originally lit by two narrow windows on the east side, one high up in the wall and oblique. The staircase is 8 ft. in diameter with solid treads round a plain wood newel and is lighted from the outside and by a narrow opening to the kitchen at the first half-turn. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

Original Hall in this structure of c.1450 may have had pele tower attached lost under later hall. Full description and plan in VCH Vol. 8. Probably not a typical pele tower but certainly a gentry status hall and chamber block, although what defensible features or fortifications the medieval house had is unknown.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSD235835
Latitude54.2419204711914
Longitude-3.17426991462708
Eastings323570
Northings483550
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Matthew Eemmott. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 386
  • Farrer, Wm and Brownbill, J.(eds), 1914, VCH Lancashire Vol. 8 p. 397 (plan) [online transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=53341#s2]
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 287-90
  • Jopling, C.M., 1843, Sketch of Furness and Cartmel p. 25 online copy

Journals

  • Collingwood, W.G., 1926, 'An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Westmorland and Lancashire North-of-the-Sands' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 26 p. 45 online copy
  • Cowper, H.S., 1894, 'The Homes of the Kirkbys of Kirkby Ireleth' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 13 p. 271-81 online copy
  • Cowper, H.S., 1894, 'Wall Paintings at Kirkby Hall' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 13 p. 287-290 online copy
  • 1866, The North Lonsdale Magazine and Lake District Miscellany Vol. 1.2 p. 43-55 online copy