Dalegarth Hall Open Day

Dalegarth Hall open day in aid of the Eskdale Mill Trust
Earlier this year, Margie Foots agreed to succeed her mother, the late Anne Stanley, as a patron of the Trust. Margie generously responded to our hydro generator appeal, by offering to open her home and gardens at Dalegarth Hall. This was a rare opportunity to view Eskdale’s oldest house, and to learn more about the Stanley family. Eskdale mill belonged to the Stanleys from at least 1633, but was sold to Edward Hartley of Miterdalehead in 1737.

The event on Sunday 9 August was a tremendous success.  By paying for entry and buying tea and cakes, plants, raffle tickets, and some of Anne Stanley’s pictures, locals and visitors together contributed the magnificent total of £1,597 for the Trust. People enjoyed themselves in a good cause, and EMHT raised its local profile. 

We are immensely grateful to Margie for allowing all-comers into her home, laying on a guided tour and enlisting other members of the Stanley family to assist. Special thanks to John & Diane Bromage for master-minding and publicising the whole event, with help from Paddy O’Neill and posters provided by Chris Jones. John also ran the raffle, with prizes donated by local businesses.  Many thanks also to the gatekeepers, parking attendants (a stressful task), stall-minders and caterers : Paul and Morag Dean, Bob and Christine Hoye-Turner, Joan Marlow, Rosey Benn, Damian McSweeney, Roger and Mu Putnam, Peter and Kate van Zeller, and Len & Denise Watson, and all the others who helped out.  Finally, thanks to Gill Hart, the new vicar of Eskdale, who by attending with David ensured that the rain held off for the whole afternoon.

A brief history of the Stanley family of Dalegarth by Margie Foots
Nicholas Austhwaite Stanley (1909-1985) was 25thin direct line descended from a Noman lord who accompanied William the Conqueror and was given the manor of Stoneleigh in Cheshire. Dalegarth Hall became the seat of this Cumbrian branch of the family in 1345 when Nicholas, son of John Stanley who had moved from Cheshire to Embleton, married Constance, heiress to the manor of Austhwaite. He also bought the manor and demesne of Ponsonby from Adam de Eskdale in 1388.

The descendants of Nicholas continued to accumulate more property and gained status by marrying into other notable families and taking on responsibilities such as becoming High Sheriff, Justice of the Peace and Members of Parliament.

In 1566 / 1567 Thomas Stanley bought the manor of Birkby for a sum of £760, and his son Edward was given the property of Brotherilkeld on the dissolution of Furness Abbey. He was also able to buy the tithes of Eskdale, Mitredale, Wasdale and Nether Wasdale from St Bees Priory.

During the civil war, his son John was an active and zealous royalist and was heavily fined by Parliament. The family have a portrait of him and letters from Oliver Cromwell and General Fairfax at Dalegarth. He was succeeded by his son Edward who bought the manor of Birker from Edward Fletcher of Moresby Hall in 1671 for £212. 5s. He also bought the rights for the holding of Ravenglass Fair and was High Sheriff of Cumberland and proclaimed King William 3rdin 1689.

Edward was the last Stanley to live in Dalegarth Hall as Lord of the Manor. His son John bought the Rectory of Ponsonby and moved his family to Ponsonby Old Hall in 1689 and retained this as the family seat. This would reflect the beginning of changes in farming practices and the role of the Lord of the Manor to “Gentleman Farmer”.

John’s son Edward married Mildred, daughter of Sir George Fleming, Bishop of Carlisle. He was High Sheriff in 1731 and was on the grand jury at the trial of the Jacobite prisoners in Carlisle in 1745. When he died his heir, George Edward, was a young child and his mother organised the running of the estate till he came of age. There are detailed records of his schooling and information about the running of the estate and improvements at a time when land was being enclosed and properties enfranchised. He built a grand new house, Ponsonby Hall, now Pelham House, and in Eskdale planted the woods round Dalegarth and saw to the building of walls as fell-land was being enclosed.
He died aged 58 in 1806 leaving very generous gifts to his children and an annual allowance of £600 to his wife. This presented a problem to his son Edward when he inherited the estate and most of the property had to be mortgaged. Edward was an MP for 20 years and High Sheriff in 1823.

His son William succeeded him and he was followed first by Edward who sold the whole of the Eskdale estate to Muncaster to cover some of the debts, and as he and his brother William died unmarried, their younger brother Philip moved to Ponsonby Hall with his family in 1928. His son Nicholas succeeded him and sold Ponsonby Hall to the Home Office in 1940 and bought back the manor of Austhwaite. He was the last High Sheriff of Cumberland. He moved into Dalegarth Hall in 1959 and it is now the home of his daughter Margaret.