Cross-a-Moor House, Swarthmoor

Cross-a-Moor House, Swarthmoor, Ulverston, Cumbria: House History

Cross-a-Moor House is at least late 17th century in origin, at which time it probably comprised a farmhouse, perhaps with a barn to the west. It continued to be used as a farmhouse until the early 19th century. This was replaced in the later 19th century by a row of cottages, with two more added against the west end of the house, and the whole of Cross-a-Moor was occupied by iron miners, no doubt working at the Pennington Mine, which operated between 1865 and 1923. Identifying the occupiers of Cross-a-Moor House at this time is difficult but by the end of the 19th century it was regularly occupied by teachers, who perhaps worked at the nearby Pennington School, which opened in 1876.

The evidence from within the house broadly confirms the documentary evidence. The presence of stop chamfered beams certainly suggests a late 17th century construction date, although the original fireplaces have been modified several times, with the extant modifications probably 18th century in date. The staircase too appears to be 18th century in date, as do the trusses, while a number of doors have strap hinges suggesting they are of similar date, so the house must have seen some ‘modernisation’ in the mid to late 18th century. The modifications to the windows and the insertion of another window to the north on the first floor also probably occurred in the 18th century.

The house would have been constructed on an L-shaped plan, with service rooms at the rear containing a large fireplace, although the current one appears to be a later remodelling, corresponding to the additions made to the north in the 1930s. What is noticeable is the size of the original windows, especially on the first floor, which either had two enormous windows (which would have had to have had stone mullions) either side of a smaller central one, or a row of five slightly smaller windows. In either case this is considerably more illumination in a south-facing elevation than would have been necessary in a room of this size. This perhaps suggests that the first floor was used for some purpose requiring a lot of light, the obvious example of which might be weaving.