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Crackenthorpe Hall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Mali Catuli

In the civil parish of Crackenthorpe.
In the historic county of Westmorland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Westmorland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY66202179
Latitude 54.59017° Longitude -2.52455°

Crackenthorpe Hall has been described as a probable Pele Tower.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Crackenthorpe Hall, near the River Eden in the S. part of the parish, was until recent years the residence of the Machell family. It is of three storeys; the walls are of rubble cement-rendered and the roofs are slate-covered. It is said to have been re-built in 1629 and again altered in 1663, but its present form is due to its refronting and reconditioning in 1685 by Hugh Machell assisted by his brother Thomas Machell, the antiquary; at this time the attic storey was no doubt added. About 1880 the large modern building was added on the W. side.
The front of 1685 is of considerable interest and the staircase of the same age is a noteworthy feature.
The N.W. front (Plate 70) of the old wing is symmetrically designed with a projecting centre-piece finished with rusticated quoins, modillioned cornice and pediment; the doorway has a stone architrave, rusticated frieze, cornice and pediment; the windows each have jambs, mullion and transom of stone. The flanking bays are similar but simpler, and there is a small cornice carried along at the attic floor level and returned round the N.E. end and back. The N.E. end has rusticated quoins and sash-windows with heavy glazingbars; at the first-floor level is a modern tablet of the Machell arms flanked by two Roman altars (Plate 3), probably from a neighbouring Roman station, perhaps Kirkby Thore. The back has features similar to the N.E. end. The central chimney-stack has grouped diagonal flues. In the N.E. gable of the modern additions is a re-set tablet with the date and initials 1663 L.M. (for Lancelot Machell). Inside the building, the hall in the old block has a large fireplace-recess in the S. wall, fitted with re-set 17th and 18th-century panelling; above the recess is an early 17th-century overmantel of re-set materials, with carved panels, six pilasters and a carved frieze; the panels have geometrical designs and a shield of the Machell arms; the pilasters have fruit, masks and figures playing musical instruments and the frieze has cherubs, birds, masks, etc. The small staircase hall has a moulded ceiling-beam and a plaster cornice; the late 17th-century staircase (Plate 56) has twisted balusters, heavy moulded handrails and square newels with ball-terminals and pendants; below it is some re-set early 17th-century panelling. Two rooms on the first floor have late 17th or early 18th-century panelling with dado-rails and cornices; there are also some 17th-century panelled doors.
Condition—Good. (RCHME 1936)

John Machell was lord of Crackenthorpe in 1266 when he was defendant in an action brought by William de Crackanthorpe claiming that John had promised to let William grind at his mill all the demesne corn. From this time the Machell family possessed the manor until we come to the year 1685 when Hugh Machell rebuilt the Hall. The Hill MSS. (vol. iv, 132) says it was "new remodelled and made shorter than before." Thomas Machell the antiquary, was brother to this Hugh, and he wrote enthusiastically concerning the Hall:—
"It is a delicate pile of building facing to the north as most of the principal houses do, having a pedament and two spears or cupilos at the top of the house; the one for pleasure, the other for uniformity sake for a stack of chimneys which cometh through of stone . . . . It hath two courts before it and a way which flanketh them from the town to the kitchen so that none can come to the house upon any occasion but they will see the front and beauty of it."
Lancelot Machell, lord of Crackenthorpe, sold on 29 August, 1786, the Manor and Hall for £12,000 to Richard Bellas of Brampton, acting for Lord Lonsdale, and thus ended five centuries' connection of the Machells with Crackenthorpe. In 1877 Captain Machell purchased back the Hall, restored the old portion and added to it a new house. (Curwen 1932)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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