button to main menu  Clarke's Survey of the Lakes, 1787

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Page 15:-
Though an inland town, there are some very considerable manufactories of checks, which are daily increasing; two common breweries in good employ; two hair-merchants, who, (limited as their business may seem,) are both men of property; and a tannery, where some business is done. Yet as these employ but a small part of the inhabitants, perhaps the manners of no place are more strongly or generally stamped with the marks of ease and peace. Few are rich, but as few miserably poor. Whoever wishes to enjoy a social glass, is seldom at a loss for a companion. A regular Card-Assembly, during the Winter; and small, though agreeable private parties all the year round, furnish the fair sex with ample amusement; whilst two well frequented bowling-greens, afford, during the fine weather, exercise and amusement to such of the males who have no better employment. During the races and assizes [sessions], a more gay and agreeable place cannot be imagined. The more than usually bustle of those times rousing the inhabitants out of that placid dream of existence they at other times enjoy, and animating them to a degree of real mirth and festivity rarely met with in more pompous scenes.
But why not here, as well as any where else, should I pay the tribute due to the general manners of the country? They deserve it. Every reputable farmer in the neighbourhood prides himself upon the goodness of his ale, and is never so happy as when his friends have taken as much of it as they can carry home. The gentlemen are remarked for affability and hospitality. True it is, that, like trees which grow single, every little irregularity has ample room to expand and shew itself; but at the same time, all is pure nature, undisguised by art. To rise still higher; even a Cynic would acknowledge, were he at Graystock, that there is at least one Nobleman who has the art of joining the polish of France to the hospitality of Britain, and whose chief delight is to shew, that true nobility can reside alone in superior worth.
Penrith has an excellent market on Tuesday, and a small one on Saturday. The Tuesday market is likewise a market for live-cattle, both fat and lean, from Lammas till Whitsuntide; but from Whitsuntide till Lammas the cattle-market is held upon the Nolt-Fair. The markets here are disposed in a manner truly astonishing in so small a town: the wheat-market is in one part of the town; rye and potatoes in another; barley in another; oats and pease in another; live-cattle, horses, and hogs have also their distinct markets. The measures here are different in different articles; as there are two customary bushels in use here, one of 80 quarts and another of 64: by the first are sold barley and oats; by the second, wheat, rye, fruit, pease, and potatoes. The second is called the Penrith Bushel, and is double the Winchester measure, and three of the bushels are called a Load.
The average prices of Fish, in this and the neighbouring inland towns is as follows:
Sea-Fish in general,2d.Stream and Esk-Trout,2d.
Ulswater-Trout,3Mussels and Cockles,1 per quart.
Charr,3Oysters,2s. 6 per hundred.
Penrith is perhaps the greatest thoroughfare in the North of England: all the Irish [most of the Irish] now crossing the sea at Port-Patrick, and consequently take this in their road to the Metropolis. Should they come by Whitehaven this is still their road: besides, since the improvements of the roads, those who are travelling from Scotland to London generally chuse this road. Another set of never-failing travellers are those whom nature, in opposition to an absurd law, prompts to connubial ties; this way they must come on their road to Gretna-Green; more famous, though less dangerous in our days, for the cure of love-sickness, than the promontory of Leucothoc was in days of yore. Those, likewise, whom a taste for natural beauties impells to visit the Lakes, always consider Penrith as a kind of home in these solitary regions: and the consequence is natural, all the inns here seem to vie with each other in attention, and strain every sinew in making the country as agreeable as possible.
erratum from p.194
for assizes, read sessions.
for all the Irish, read most of the Irish.
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