My connection to Cumbria and to famous author, Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth) – my maiden name is Warcop (Wauchope) and here is the history: Border branch of the Wauchopes, the Warcops of Cumbria, England, had their seat at Warcop Castle, whose spot is marked by Castle Hill. The family held the manor from the reigns of King John (1199-1216) to Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603). This area switched back and forth several times between Scotland and England, before remaining under English control.
The castle’s ancient walls were said to have been dug up and used to build the tower of Kirkby Stephen church circa 1506. Just to the southwest is Warcop Tower Farm which is on the site of another former Warcop tower. In addition, nearby Smardale Hall was originally built by the Warcops and passed through marriage to the Dalstons circa 1580, then eventually to the Smardales. The Warcops also likely built Lammerside Castle 2 ½ miles south of Kirkby Stephen. The castle fell into disrepair under the Wharton family after construction of Wharton Hall in the early fifteenth century. The ruins of the original fourteenth century tower remain. Wharton Hall is the ancestral home of the Wharton family. So, I am thinking, since my maiden name is Warcop, shouldn’t I own Warcop Hall (or Lammerside)? LOL – yes, dreams are what we are made of…
Nearby is also the ruins of Pendragon Castle, the supposed seat of Uther Pendragon!! I visited Cumbria and the town of Warcop back in 2000 and I must say I truly felt the pulse of my ancestral blood pumping loud in my ears. The entire Eden Valley is incredibly beautiful. My husband and I stayed at a small bed and breakfast in Appleby called The White Hart. The air outside was brisk and we sat in a cozy eating area next to a roaring fire eating Stilton soup and Earl Grey tea. Since it was the middle of off-season, and we made our way to Appleby by train and bus, we had no way of getting over to Warcop, except by foot. Early one morning, we trudged out to the bus stop and begged the bus driver, who was on his way to Kirkby Stephen, to drop us off in the town of Warcop. He agreed and said he would pick us up on his way back. So, we only had an hour to walk about. I wish I could have stayed longer…. and sadly, the photos of my adventure there went missing sometime over the past years.
But, if you ever want to roam the countryside and follow in the footsteps of King Arthur or Uther Pendragon, or my own ancestor, Sir Robert de Wauchope, here are a few pictures of the beautiful area of Cumbria: