Gleaston is a village with a population of around 400 in the Furness area of South Cumbria, situated between the towns of Barrow-in-Furness, Dalton-in-Furness and Ulverston. The history of the village can be traced as far back as the mesolithic period and it was the centre of the manor of Muchland in the middle ages. Today it is largely a commuter village for the nearby towns, but its past is still visible in the remains of Gleaston Castle and Gleaston Water Mill, which is open as a tourist attraction.
The Domesday Book of 1086 records Gleaston as Glassertun. It has been suggested that this could mean 'farm by a stream' from the Brythonic glas and Old Norse tun, as there is a swift stream or beck running through the village. Alternatively it could mean 'green hill farm' from the Old Norse glas-haugr-tun. The medieval manor of Muchland was named after its first lord Michael le Fleming (or Flanderensis) and would have originally been called 'Mickle Land' from the local form of Michael. But this was confused with the Norse word Mikill which means 'great' and so the name changed to 'Muchland'. The same process explains why nearby Great Urswick is so named, which was originally called 'Mickle Urswick' and later 'Much Urswick' to distinguish between the land that belonged to Michael le Fleming and that which belonged to Furness Abbey.
Archaeological digs in the 1990s brought to light the ancient history of the village. Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age artifacts were found and the position of a prehistoric lake, which once covered a field between the castle and the mill, was discovered, proving that the local area has been inhabited for thousands of years. Since the Iron Age Gleaston would probably have been inhabited by the Carvetii tribe who were based at Carlisle and covered most of modern Cumbria, or possibly the Setantii tribe from Lancashire. Both were later incorporated by the Brigantes. Successive waves of Norse, Saxon and Norman invaders and settlers have all added to the history of the local area.
In the 13th century the Lords of the Manor of Muchland moved their seat of residence from nearby Aldingham to Gleaston and probably built a wooden hall on the site of the present castle, about 0.5km north of the village. The building that stands today was begun in the late 13th century but was much extended between 1325 and 1350 under the control of the first Baron of Aldingham, John de Harrington. The castle would have originally consisted of a quadrangular courtyard surrounded by high curtain walls, with substantial towers at the four corners. The north western tower would have contained the great hall and Lord's apartments. The castle was quickly built and quickly fell into disrepair, and was abandoned in 1451 when the family line died out and the manor eventually passed to the crown.
Gleaston Water Mill
Just north of the village is Gleaston Water Mill. Now a tourist attraction, the mill would once have been used to grind wheat, barley and oats for farmers throughout the Furness area. The present mill was built in 1774 on the site of an earlier one and its water wheel and milling machinery are still in working order. The Mill is privately owned and was restored in the early 90's and preserved for posterity. Also on the site are the Dusty Millers restaurant and Pigs Whisper country store.
The Village Now
Much of the village that can be seen today is twentieth century. Since the 1960s the village has experienced a small scale population explosion. Previously there were five farms within the village itself as well as a pub, post office, Co-op and police station, most of which were 19th century buildings. The oldest remaining buildings all date from the 17th century and there are numberous 18th century buildings.
Today, all the amenities and the five farms have disappeared and all the buildings have been converted into dwellings as Gleaston gradually became a communter village for nearby Barrow and Ulverston. Most of the fields and large gardens in the village were also given over to development as pressure rose in the 1970s and 80s to provide the growing number of workers at Vickers (now BAE Systems), Glaxo and Furness General Hospital with homes. Gleaston even has its own small estate called Mounts Meadow.
The village has its own large village green, a small football pitch, a community hall and a children's playground, which are all owned and run by the villagers themselves. Every year many events are held to raise funds and for locals to meet and enjoy themselves. Also the village has its own bonfire and fireworks diplay every November 5. In the year 2000, to celebrate the millennium a short walk was created in a small piece of woodland adjacent to the green, behind the beck.
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This history of GLeaston has been taken from the wikipedia website - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleaston. This wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.)