History Of Appleby: Map Of Westmoreland

Appleby (located in Cumbria, England) was originally known as the County Town of Westmorland. It developed after the time of the Norman Conquest by virtue of its strategic geographical location. It is an ancient town, set in a great loop of the River Eden, protected on the South side by the Norman Castle, sheltered from the East by the High Pennines and from the West by the Lakeland Fells. It is situated by the main East-to-West Roman Road in the Eden Valley. Today, Appleby is an attractive and picturesque market town endowed with much charm. It is an area that enjoys a somewhat milder and drier climate than most of Cumbria. Appleby's uncommonly wide main street, Boroughgate, has been described as one of the finest in all of England. This thoroughfare...an avenue of mature lime trees planted in the 1870s...runs from the North end of the town, the location of the main shopping area (which has been the town's market since 1174), to the South end of the town by the entrance to Appleby Castle. The beginning and end of Boroughgate are marked by the "Low Cross" and the "High Cross." These Crosses mark the original boundaries of the market. Appleby can claim its beginnings from the time of the Celts, Romans and Vikings.

Surrounded by 25 acres of parkland, Appleby Castle has stood guard over the Eden Valley since the time of the Normans. It is the stronghold of the Clifford Lords, formerly owned by English Kings, as well as being seized by the King of Scotland. Erected when William II won the majority of Westmoreland from the Scots in 1092, Abbpleby Castle is an impressive building of which the Keep, known as Caesar's Tower, is the oldest. However, perhaps the most striking feature is the Dwelling House, which was built in the late 17th Century. The grounds themselves contain magnificent walks with a wide variety of rare breeds of sheep, goats, pheasants, hens, ducks, geese and teals...together with a splendid specimen of the Weeping Cedar.

Appleby Castle

Other attractions in Appleby include the Church of Saint Lawrence, which contains one of the oldest surviving organs in the British Isles, and the Grammar School which was attended by the half-brothers of George Washington. In addition, there is Saint Anne's Hospital, a group of almhouses originally built to house thirteen poor widows of the Castle Estate.

Appleby Horse Fair (the largest traditional horse fair of its kind in the world) was set up by Charter under the reign of James II in 1685 and has been an annual event since that time. Originally, it was a venue for the trading of all types of livestock and general merchandise. Its popularity with the large numbers of gypsies who would come each year eventually led to the occasion being known as a specialist horse fair. Today, Appleby Fair is the venue of one the largest remaining gatherings of Romany and gypsy people. The event is held during the second week of June, beginning on the Wednesday of that week and with the main horse sale on the Tuesday of the following week. Harness races and celebrations lead up to this sale day and horses are lead trotting up and down the lanes in order to show them off prior to the sales. The field which is the main site for the participants is found on the outskirts of Appleby. It was originally known as Gallows Hill, due to the nature of its usage in earlier times. However, it is now called Fair Hill and looks West over the town of Appleby and East toward the Pennines.

During the two weeks of the Fair, horses may be found everywhere...in the river, on its banks, along the green, on roadsides and lanes, or even tethered outside hotels, shops and public houses (the local taverns). The ownership of a horse can, by wheeling and dealing, change several times throughout the course of the Fair and sales are usually clinched with a slap on the hand, after a one-to-one bartering rather than a traditional type of auction.

Appleby Fair by Talis Kimberley
I took to the road on my good chestnut mare
On my way from the lakes down to Appleby Fair
My world and my wealth on my back as I rode
And a song for the pony to lighten her load;
On horseback through Kendal from bright Windermere
To meet with my kind as I do every year
For a drink and a wager and a song heard but once
And a warm whispered promise in the heat of the dance:

"Come to my wagon late when the fires are low,
I'll tell you what this gypsy knows--
Your horse and mine both tethered near:
Come to me, come to me, my dear,
Come to me, my dear."

The horse I rode then was a sturdy old bay
And I set him to graze by her young dappled grey;
Oh, it wasn't her eyes, though I'm sure they were fair
And it wasn't her face, and it wasn't her hair
But her way with the horses was subtle and fine
And she rode like a centaur, and she had to be mine
I made conversation and compliments paid,
And I was well content with the answer she made:

"Come to my wagon late when the fires are low,
I'll tell you what this gypsy knows--
Your horse and mine both tethered near:
Come to me, come to me, my dear,
Come to me, my dear."

My bay saw his last summer two years ago
My chestnut's a braveheart who won't be told 'no;'
I've not missed a season at Appleby Fair
But I've looked every year, and you are never there,
Oh, I've drunk and I've wagered as good horsemen do
I've watched each painted wagon, and never found you;
I'd walk barefoot from here down to Glastonbury Tor
For a whisper of you and a promise of more;

"Come to my wagon late when the fires are low,
I'll tell you what this gypsy knows--
Your horse and mine both tethered near:
Come to me, come to me, my dear,
Come to me, my dear."


Words and music by Talis Kimberley © 1998
and used with permission

To view more of Talis' creative works, please visit her website at:
Link to Talis Kimberley's Website

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