Thurstonfield shares the Parish of Burgh by Sands which neighbour villages/hamlets of Longburgh, Boustead Hill, Moorhouse and Burgh by Sands which lies within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

History of Thurstonfield

Thurstonfield is a village in Burgh-by-Sands parish, two miles inland on the English side of the Solway estuary, five miles west of Carlisle in Cumbria. It was a thriving farming and business community from 1870 to 1930, with most people living and working in the immediate area.

The Stordys, a Quaker family from Moorhouse, owned most of the land, the industries and houses. The villagers were self sufficient with water from their own wells and grew vegetables, corn and wheat with the latter being ground by the farmer at the mill until it closed in the 1920s.

There were seven working farms, a corn water mill, a tannery employing 20 workers, a wine and spirits merchant and the Greyhound inn. Around 1900 the Stordys built several large brick houses, bringing the total housing to 25. Mrs Stordy at Red House, kept the famous ‘Thurstonfield Harriers’, a pack of hounds known from Silloth to Caldbeck and Carlisle. Cockfights, although illegal, still took place at the cock pit beside the Methodist chapel, which had been built in 1861 to accommodate 100 and still has a practising congregation now. Other social life was provided by summer swimming and winter skating on the Lough. The Lough was the millpond, surrounded by woods, owned until the 1980s by the Stordys. A business consortium bought the Lough and built fishing lodges, tidied the wood and created a private fishing holiday centre.

In 1895 the tannery sold one of its houses to a Kirkbampton stonemason, W. R. Purdham, who developed a building company with his family which survived into the 1970s. The Carlisle and District State Management Scheme, set up during the First World War to combat drunkenness among munitions workers, forced the closure of the pub and the wine and spirits business, while the tannery shut in 1927.

The 1914-1950 period saw ‘Nannie’ Rickerby running a village shop. She sold everything, except to those who annoyed her! Luckily pony and cart ‘mobile’ shops visited bringing goods from Carlisle. Great Orton’s Hannah Jane wore 16 skirts and sold flat cigarettes. She carried them in her pockets and sat on them whilst driving along. Several mobile vans operated into the 1980s, but only the Wigton fish man now calls each week.

The village entered a new era in 1959. Pattinsons Joinery and Undertaking business moved in and the joinery side still thrives today. Building, barn renovations and in fill housing have meant an increase to 86 houses. The one working farm left is a family concern and many of the old industrial and farm buildings are now houses.

Old customs have not survived these changes. When everyone was known all were ‘bid’ to a funeral, and tea afterwards. The quality of the funeral could be judged by the ‘ham and currant cake’ tea. Groups of neighbours still rally round to help when trouble strikes, but many don’t know their neighbours well and social life takes place away from the village. The hundred years has brought prosperity to many in Thurstonfield, some who have moved here, and none feel the influence of a gentry-type landowning family on their lives as the villagers of 1890 did.

The village information above is taken from the¬†The Cumbria Village Book, written by members of the Cumbria Federations of Women’s Institutes and published by Countryside Books. (see link below)

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Countryside Books