Friday, October 24, 2014

Hamlet, Village, Town or City? All Smaller Than They Sound!

When I was travelling in Cumbria (formerly Cumberland), I learned that there are fiercely-held distinctions among the people there about what to call an inhabited area:  hamlet, village, town, and city.

Lanercost  is a hamlet. It includes the Priory with its ruins, St. Mary Magdalene Church (the east section of the old Priory church), three "farmhouses" (c. 1870, one of which was the B&B where we stayed) and three other residences down the road, plus the Lanercost Tea Room, part of the amenities attached to the Priory, which is an English Heritage Site. 

The 'farmhouse' in front is the Lanercost B&B, with the Priory Ruins
and St. Mary Magdalene Church behind it.
There's an ancient mill up the road by the River Irthing, which is also a B&B these days. So, fewer than ten homes--a hamlet. There is only one road, no sidewalks, no street lighting, no house numbers, no noise--and everyone knows everyone's life and business intimately.

Brampton, two miles east of Lanercost, was probably more of a village in the early times, but by the late 19th century, when my story takes place, it had acquired the status of a town, partly due to its having a railroad station of its own--albeit, about a mile and a half from the actual center of town, literally in the middle of a field--which was a kind of spur off the main railway that had been built between Newcastle on the east coast and Carlisle, both of which were then and are now, cities.

As a village, Brampton has a small town center (a market square, where the Moot Hall sits), a "high cross street" that runs straight through but above the market (literally, up
a small rise, and yes, there is a "low cross street," too), and three or four winding alley-like streets connecting the High Street with the Market Square.

The Howard Arms hotel and pub is the principal hotel, and always has been since the village began. 

Currently, as a town, it has added a few housing developments in its suburbs, and a few more paved streets connecting the major streets with each other, and a fair amount of infill housing and retail stores.  

St. Martin's Church (below) was built in 1878, by Philip Webb of Morris and Co., and has exquisite stained glass windows designed by Burne-Jones.


The nearby city of Carlisle, about ten miles east of Brampton, is an absolute maze of one-way streets (like London, I believe the roads started out as paths made by cows and sheep and were simply paved over in later days). The lords who lived in Lanercost at Naworth Castle eventually had bestowed upon them the title and domain of Earl of Carlisle, a title which the Howard family holds to this day. Carlisle is situated at the confluence of three major rivers, and only ten  miles from the Scottish border. It was started as a Roman settlement, established to serve the forts on Hadrian's Wall. During the Middle Ages, Carlisle became an important military stronghold. Carlisle Castle, still relatively intact, was built in 1092 by William Rufus, and once served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. In the early 12th century Henry I allowed the foundation of a priory in Carlisle. The town gained the status of a diocese in 1122, and the priory became Carlisle Cathedral (shown just up and left of the center of the photo). (Thank you, wikipedia, for the info about Carlisle!)

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