Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Millennium Map Project. The Lane Hall, Weasdale

Contributors: C and P Assheton-Stones
Newbiggin-on-Lune, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

The present house was built by Thomas Hewetson. He was a younger son of the Hewetson family of Street, Ravenstonedale, and tradition has it that he went to London in 1839 with £100 to make his fortune. His elder brother, John, had started a furnishing business in Tottenham Court Road a decade earlier, and another brother, William, had followed in 1838. Thomas did not join his brother's enterprise but set up in competition further down the same street. The business thrived and he was bought out some twenty years later by what became Maples. He had made himself a wealthy man and wanted to build himself a suitable house somewhere near his roots. He was able to find two adjacent farms on rising ground halfway up to Weasdale which were then available. They were then called 'The Loning' or 'The Lane' farms. He kept one as the farm manager's house (now known as a 'Cottage Orne') and later, in the 1890s, heavily embellished it with every known building style. The other farmhouse to the northeast he demolished.

His new house, first known as 'Weasdale Mansion', was a square design with concentric gables, built in 1860. It was reminiscent of a bygone age, with generous rooms, hall and landing. It was appointed regardless of expense, will all the fashionable stencilled wall decorations and exotic wallpapers from Tottenham Court Road. There was even rumoured to be a mural in one of the upper rooms. The gardens were laid out with great thought and care, where previously there had been fields and open fell-land and a band of woodland was planted which would one day protect the gardens from wind and afford some privacy.

Thomas Hewetson's daughter, who was born in the house, eloped with and married a member of the Beck family, against her father's wishes. This George Morland Beck some years later sold the estate as a whole to his friend and fellow fishing enthusiast, a butcher in Kirkby Stephen by the name of Capstick. Capstick and his sons took up farming, and both houses at The Lane became farmhouses. At this stage, a rear extension was added which covered one third of the long stained-glass window lighting the hallway. This provided a washroom for working farmers and a cold store with slate shelving, probably moved from one of the cellar rooms. When the Capsticks gave up farming due to ill health, the farm was sold separately and the house with 2-3 acres of garden were sold to the Lea family, who unsuccessfully ran it as a guest house, calling it 'The Lane Hotel.'

The hotel was sold after four years in 1988 when bankruptcy threatened and became a private family house again under the present ownership, and is known as The Lane Hall to distinguish it from The Lane Farm.