| PENRITH, a market town and parish in Leath ward, Cumberland, 17 miles from Carlisle, and 283½ from London; containing 670 houses and 3801 inhabitants, viz. 1697 males and 2104 females, of whom 1020 were returned as being employed in trade and manufacture. This town was originally claimed, and continued a long time continued in the possession of the Scots; but it being disputed by the English, it was twice burnt in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. when it had a castle erected to check the depredations of the Scots. The church is a large and handsome structure, mostly new built, except the lower part. Its roof is supported by pillars, consisting each of one entire stone dug out of a neighbouring quarry. In the church-yard are two ancient rude stone obelisks, set up at each end of what is called the Giant's Grave, and said to have been erected to the memory of Sir Owen Caesarius, a famous warrior, who destroyed the robbers and wild beasts that infested Inglewood forest; and the credulous believe that his body reached from one pillar to the other, being nearly 5 yards. The town-house in the market-place is built of wood, and embellished with the figures of bears climbing up a ragged staff. It has a good free school, a charity school, and 2 Sunday schools, with several meeting houses for Presbyterians and Quakers. Its principal manufactures are those of check and fancy waistcoat pieces. On the north bank of the river Emont, are two caves or grottos, dug out of the solid rock, and very extensive. The passage to them is narrow and dangerous, and from some iron gates having been formerly taken from hence, it is supposed they were intended as a place of safety during the incursions of the Scots; but strange stories are told of their having been the abode of a giant. This town suffered greatly by the plague in 1380, and again in 1598, where it is recorded by an inscription on the vestry wall, that 2260 person died thereof; but the register only accounts for 680 burials. The markets are on Tuesday and Saturday. Fairs, 8th June, and 5th August. It is a vicarage, value 12
d. in the patronage of the bishop of Carlisle. -
Housman's Tour and Hutchinson's Cumberland.