Acorn Bank

Acorn Bank


Temple Sowerby is a village and civil parish in Cumbria, northern England. It is close to the main east–west A66 road about 8 miles (13 km) east of Penrith in the Eden Valley. At the centre of the village is the village green surrounded by cottages and houses, the village hall, Church of England primary school and a public house and hotel. Just outside the village stands the cricket pitch, a bowling green, the new doctors surgery and the Temple Sowerby garage. The National Trust property Acorn Bank is nearby, which dates back to the days of the crusades when a member of the Knights Templar lived there. The village's association with the Knights Templar gave it the name 'Temple'. Sowerby is Viking for "a homestead with poor soil".

Acorn Bank has a long history that dates back to the 13th century. The first owners were the Knights Templar in 1228, from whom the nearby village of Temple Sowerby got its name. After the suppression of the Templars, the manor passed to the Knights of the Hospital of St John, who held it from 1323 until the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. In 1543 Acorn Bank was acquired by Thomas Dalston, a local landowner from Dalston, just outside Carlisle, and remained in the hands of his descendants right up until the 1930s.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries it passed through the female line three times, eventually passing to the Boazman family from Newton Aycliffe in County Durham. The Boazmans started to mine gypsum at Acorn Bank from the 1880s onwards. Acorn Bank was not their main residence and so had little investment, which means that very few Victorian alterations were made to the house. Parts of the house date from the 16th century, but the main block was rebuilt in the mid-17th century. The whole house was then given a new façade in the 1690s, with Georgian sash windows added in the 1740s.


Tucked away between the trees and the Crowdundle Beck, the watermill is only a short walk away from the entrance and the house. There has been a watermill at Acorn Bank for hundreds of years. The first mention is made in 1323 when the estate passed to the Knights Hospitaller, however the present building dates from the early 19th century. Although primarily a corn mill, the mill has also been used to provide power to the gypsum mines which were located on the estate.

The mill ceased to work in the 1940s and gradually fell into a state of ruin. Restoration began in the late 1980s, at which time the woodland walks were also opened, allowing visitors much greater access to the property. The mill building was partially restored with the help of work experience teams and has been open to the public since 1995. In the last few years the mill has undergone a further transformation with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, who have restored the machinery within it to working order.

Flour was ground for the first time for more than 70 years in September 2011 and the achievement of the volunteer team was recognised when they won the Marsh Heritage Volunteering Award in 2012. The mill now 'works' on most weekend afternoons, April to October, producing flour that is sold in their shop and used in the tea-room.

When you visit Acorn Bank, you cannot miss their gardens. They have an incredible herb garden with over 250 varieties of herbs, plus hot beds, vegetable patches and wonderful traditional fruit orchards, all waiting to be explored.

The 17th-century walls shelter the National Trust's largest collection of medicinal and culinary plants in the fascinating herb garden; the traditional orchards are carpeted with wildflowers and surrounded by herbaceous borders. Beyond the walls, the new orchard contains a growing collection of local apples.

A series of small linked gardens celebrates continuous development and adaption over at least 350 years. The first brick-lined walls date from around 1650, enclosing a productive vegetable garden with a smaller area for fruit growing protected by a wall heated with the flue gases from three fires. By the 1830s the emphasis had moved towards ornamentation and fruit production with the now lost lower garden made on the banks of Crowdundle Beck for vegetables.

Dorothy Una Ratcliffe carried on this work in the 1930s and ’40s with a walled garden full of fruit and flowers adding new and salvaged ornamental ironwork and statuary, creating a wildflower and bird reserve on the bank behind the house and a pond on land between the house and watermill. Daffodils and apple trees were protected from the wartime dig for victory plough by making a new vegetable growing area adjacent to the walled garden.

The National Trust have directly managed the garden since 1969. The first herb garden was laid out by Graham Stuart Thomas in the smaller of the walled gardens; this herb garden was re-designed and comprehensively re-planted in 2003 and holds approximately 300 different varieties. The garden is also becoming increasingly known for its orchards and an Apple Day event, held in mid-October each year. A collection of more than a hundred local apple varieties is being established in Dorothy Una Ratcliffe’s vegetable garden and a succession of manure hotbeds have also been built in this area, which provide early salad crops for the tearoom. At the top of the orchards they have a teaching apiary with four buzzing beehives which was established by Penrith beekeepers.

Spectacular in every season. Winter: woodland walks; trees; industrial and historic landscape. Spring: carpets of snowdrops in the woods; drifts of daffodils in woods and snakes head fritillaries in the walled orchard; woodland wild flowers; fruit blossom; birdsong; succession of new leaf colour; wildlife in the ponds, newts in sunken garden pond. Summer: Herb Garden reaching its peak; walled garden borders; dark and atmospheric woodland pond. Autumn: apples; late colour in the dahlia bed; autumn colour in borders and woodland.

Keld Chapel

Keld Chapel

Keld Chapel

This picturesque and rustic stone chapel is thought to have been the chantry for Shap Abbey originally. It was built around the sixteenth-century and has been used as a cottage and meeting house during its long history. The key to open the chapel door is hanging by the front door of the house opposite.


Acorn Bank.

Enjoy the garden's herbs and fruit in the tea-room. Plants are for sale in the garden courtyard. Browse in the shop, located in the old dining room of the house. There is free parking, 80 yards away. No coach parking is available. Pushchairs and baby back-carriers admitted. There is a Children's guide available. Baby-changing facilities are available.

There is a Drop-off point at garden entrance . There is an adapted toilet in the garden courtyard. A Map of the accessible route in grounds is available. Separate mobility parking, 50 yards away. Two wheelchairs are available. Level access into the building only available to upper information room in the watermill. The Ground floor has steps. Narrow outside staircase to lower mill rooms. Dogs usually welcome on leads on the woodland walk and in the garden courtyard, but assistance dogs only on Apple Day. Assistance dogs only in the gardens.


Location : Temple Sowerby, near Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 1SP

Location Keld Chapel : Keld Lane, Shap, Cumbria, CA10 3NW

Transport : (National Rail) Langwathby 5 miles; Penrith 6 miles. Bus Routes : Penrith to Kirkby Stephen, to within 1 mile.

Opening Times : March 23rd through October 10:00 to 17:00

Tickets : Adults £3.81;  Children £1.90

Tel : 017683 61893