The locational name of Appleby was first recorded in England for Appleby-in-Westmorland as Appelbi in 1163. It is from Appleby-in-Westmorland that the Appleby family of Bathurst, NSW, and its surname are believed to have originated.

Appleby-in-Westmorland is a market town and civil parish in the Eden district, in the county of Cumbria, in North West England. It is situated within a loop of the River Eden. In 2011 the parish had a population of 3,048. It is in the historic county of Westmorland, of which it is the traditional county town. When local government was re-organised in 1974, Appleby became part of the county of Cumbria, and the town's name was changed to Appleby-in-Westmorland to preserve the county name.

Appleby developed as the market town of Westmorland after the Norman Conquest, having a strategic position in the Eden valley. It is a picturesque market town with a great deal of interest and charm. While visitors flock to the Lake District further west, the Eden Valley remains relatively untouched by tourism, making it a wonderful alternative to the sometimes overcrowded lakes.

The history of Appleby goes back to at least the 9th century, when the area was settled by Viking newcomers. The first Viking dwelling appears to have been built near what is now Bongate. They called the new settlement Appleby, from the Norse words for 'place of the apples'.

Until 1974 Appleby was the capital of the county of Westmorland, and the town name was simply 'Appleby'. The county of Westmorland disappeared in the government reorganisation of that year, merging with Cumberland to create the modern 'Cumbria'. To preserve a connection with the old county of Westmorland the town was renamed as Appleby in Westmorland (sometimes hyphenated and sometimes not!).

Appleby's uncommonly wide main street, Boroughgate, has been described as one of the finest in England. It runs from the north end, by the cloisters which were designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1811, to the south end, by the Castle entrance.

The High Cross

At the top and bottom of Boroughgate are slender market crosses, showing where the town markets used to be held. The southern cross, in front of Appleby Castle's gatehouse, is 17th century, while the northern cross, near the Moot Hall and church, is an 18th century copy. The northern cross was the site of a butter market, and stood beside the Bull Ring, where bulls were baited before being slaughtered. The southern, or upper cross, marks the traditional location of the town's cheese market.

The crosses have a slender cylindrical Doric column rising to a sundial and weathervane. The sundial gnomons (pointers) are in the shape of fish tails and on the north face are the town coat of arms. Beside the northern market cross is the Moot Hall, an attractive two-storey building erected in the late 16th century to serve as a meeting place for civic administration. A stone inscribed with the date 1596 is set into the wall above the doorway. The ground floor of the Moot Hall now serves as the home of Appleby TIC, but the upper floor is still used for council meetings.

Moot Hall

At the north end is the Moot Hall, with a plaque above the door dated 1596. The Moot Hall is the home of the Town Council where the Town Clerk s office is situated on the first floor next to the ancient meeting chamber where the Council still holds its meetings. On the ground floor is the Tourist Information Centre and exhibition room. The beginning and end of Boroughgate is marked by the Low Cross  and the High Cross . The High Cross bears the inscription Retain your loyalty, preserve your rights , and dates from the 17th Century. The Low Cross is an 18th Century copy. The avenue of mature lime trees, planted in the 1870 s is flanked by well-kept properties dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

St Anne's Hospital

Halfway along Boroughgate is the attractive red sandstone complex of 17th century buildings known as St Anne's Hospital. It is not a hospital in the modern sense, but an almshouse, founded by Lady Anne Clifford in 1652 to provide housing for 12 'sisters' under a superior. The hospital is laid out around a courtyard, centred on a fountain, with accommodation on all sides and a common hall and chapel in the corners.

You enter through an ornamental archway decorated with the arms of the Clifford family, owners of Appleby Castle, and further heraldic panels are set into the courtyard walls. The apartments are still in use as residences, but the courtyard is often open so that visitors can wander in and enjoy the peaceful enclave of historic buildings.

American visitors are particularly interested to know that George Washington's father attended Appleby Grammar School. George's two older half-brothers were sent back from America to be educated here, but George's father died when he was just 11 years old and the family decided that George would not be sent back to England for his education.

Appleby Castle

Appleby Castle

When the Normans conquered England in 1066 they quickly realised the strategic importance of the ford across the River Ede at Appleby. To guard the crossing they built Appleby Castle. The first castle was a simple motte and bailey, probably defended by a simple timber palisade. In the 12th century a stone keep was built atop the motte. The keep was enlarged after it was captured by William the Lion of Scotland in 1174. The defences were dismantled by Parliament in 1648, but restored by Lady Anne Clifford from 1651.

The castle consists of a 12th century keep known as Caesar's Tower, linked to a much later mansion house, home of the powerful Clifford family from the 13th century. The entire complex of buildings is surrounded by a high curtain wall and stands at the upper end of Boroughgate.

Appleby Castle

Appleby Castle was the home of Lady Anne Clifford, a remarkable 17th century woman who owned a vast estate in the north of England. She was the daughter of the Earl of Cumberland, but had to fight for her right to inherit her father's estates because she was a woman. It took 3 decades of court cases before her right to inherit was established. Lady Anne poured enormous resources into rebuilding her family castles throughout Cumbria and Yorkshire, including Skipton Castle and Brougham Castle, near Penrith. After her death Appleby castle passed to the earls of Thanet, and from them to Lord Hothfield.

Lady Anne Clifford's memorial stands in St Lawrence Church, near that of her mother, who supported her fight to inherit the family estates.

St Lawrence church was built shortly after the castle. It was damaged by raiding Scots in 1388, but rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford.

Appleby Horse Fair

Appleby Horse Fair

Appleby is famous for its gypsy horse fair, an annual tradition since about 1685. The fair is held in early June and is a major gathering place for the traveller community in Britain. Huge crowds come to attend horse sales, and watch as the horses are bathed in the River Eden.

Rutter Force

Rutter Force

Just south of Appleby is Rutter Force, an attractive waterfall beside a picturesque old mill. You can reach the falls by car, or by following the footpath south from Colby Lane.

Getting There

Location: On the A66 15 miles south east of Penrith

Appleby is off the A66 trunk road from Penrith to Scotch Corner, about 15 minutes drive from Penrith. It is at the north end of the B6260 road which provides a scenic route to Kendal 28 miles away via Tebay. Appleby has a fully operational railway station on the historic Settle Carlisle Railway with several trains per day running between Carlisle and Leeds via Settle.

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