The small village of Santon Bridge in Cumbria is located next to a bridge that crosses the River Irt. Now part of the parish of Irton with Santon, the area is home to no less than 17 listed buildings, including the Church of St Paul and Irton Hall’s medieval tower.
St Paul’s Church is particularly interesting for history enthusiasts. Its location is set apart from the village, part-way between the Santon Bridge and the Holmbrook. Within the graveyard, there is the Irton Cross, an Anglo-Saxon cross thought to date back to the 9th century. Those who have visited the Victoria and Albert Museum may have seen the reproduction of this cross in the Cast Courts, commissioned in the late 19th century. While the current building dates back to 1857, the site has been home to a church for a number of centuries prior to this, and it is thought that the first church on the site was built in the 11th century.
Much of Irton Hall, located further along the Irt Valley, was built in the 19th century but the Pele tower there dates back to the 14th century and visitors to the area can also enjoy some of the scenic walks in the region while learning more about the history of this fascinating building.
Most people don’t know that the area also has links with the author of Alice in Wonderland. Holmrook Hall – a Victorian country house – was home to the Reverend Charles Skeffington Lutwidge. He was a relative of the author Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) who used to visit often. Holmrook Hall also played a part in WW2 as a secret training school for the Royal Navy. This fact was hidden from the local people in Holmrook and Santon Bridge, who believed that the house was being used as a rest home for injured sailors.