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Cleator Moor is a town in West Cumbria, UK, born from the ancient village of Cleator. The town grew across moorland, out of industry, enterprise and geographical advantages. Rich haematite iron ore of the district, and the proximity of the parish to coastal shipping, and new railway system, account for a rapid transformation.

In the beginning, the moorland of Cleator was barren with a few farms tending a stark land. In the 17th Century, Iron Ore was first extracted from beneath the ground. In the 18th and 19th Century mining expanded with Iron Ore being a vital ingredient for the Industrial Revolution, modernising industry.

The town had several iron ore mines and excessive mining caused subsidence. Some parts of the town have been demolished due to undermining in the area, most notably the original Montreal Primary School and the whole of Montreal Street on which it stood.

The town's skyline is dominated by Dent Fell and the town is located on the 190 miles (310 km) Coast to Coast Walk that spans Northern England. The Sea to Sea (C2C) cycle network also passes through Cleator Moor via a disused railway which is now part of the National Cycle Network.

On the outskirts of the town of Cleator Moor lies the village of Cleator with which the town is closely associated. As a settlement of note, it was substantially populated by immigrants from the North Eastern counties of Ireland in the latter half of the nineteenth century, leading to the colloquial title of Little Ireland.

South from Cleator, is Longlands Lake, a former iron ore mine which is now a local beauty spot and haven for wildlife. Longlands Lake nature reserve is on the site of the former Longlands iron ore mine that first produced ore in 1879 from four pits. By 1924 the mines had been abandoned. In 1939 the mines started to subside and flood the area creating Longlands Lake. Longlands was acquired by Cumbria County Council in 1980.

Cleator Moor has a few distinct communities which have emerged as the town has grown; such as Mill Hill, Bowthorn and Wath Brow.

Population
The population of Cleator Moor is estimated at 330 in 1688; it then doubled from 362 in 1801 to over 763 by 1841; then surged across the second half of the 19th century as result of industrial development. The new town of Cleator Moor was laid out on former Common land from the 1880s. By 1861 the population stood at 3,995; it peaked at 10,420 in 1881. It then declined, to 8,120 by 1901 and to low point of 6,411 in 1951, after which it rose to 7,686 by 1971; today, the population stands at around 7,000.

Governance
Cleator Moor is within the Copeland UK Parliamentary constituency, Trudy Harrison is the Member of parliament.

Before Brexit, it was in the North West England European Parliamentary Constituency.

Industry
Historically in Cumberland, the town was based around the iron works industry and was served in this capacity by two railways. The Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway (WC&ER) was the first railway on the scene and it opened for goods traffic in 1855, then two years later it opened for passenger traffic. The WC&ER sold out to the London and North Western Railway in 1878 but when the Furness Railway objected to the sale it too became a partner, thus forming the Furness & London and North Western Joint Railway the following year. The second railway to serve Cleator Moor was the Cleator & Workington Junction Railway. This new company had a station on the western edge of the town and its double track main line made a junction with the former company at Cleator Moor West Junction.

The town had several iron ore mines and excessive mining caused subsidence. Some parts of the town have been demolished due to undermining in the area, most notably the original Montreal Primary School and the whole of Montreal Street on which it stood.

The Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway suffered from subsidence which forced it to build two deviation branch lines and stations. In Cleator Moor itself a new line was built curving further northwest than the original, with a new station being opened in 1866 some 600 yards further west along Leconfield Street than the original, which became a goods station. The new station was known simply as Cleator Moor, but was renamed Cleator Moor East in 1924.

Subsidence also necessitated a deviation at Eskett. As in Cleator Moor itself, a new line was built to the west of the original Eskett station which was retained as a goods station up to 1931. Yeathouse station was opened on the deviation line as a replacement.

The influx of Irish workers gave the town the nickname Little Ireland. World War I and World War II saw a fresh influx of immigrants from mainland Europe to join the settled Irish community.

In 1938, Jakob Spreiregen founded the company Kangol in Cleator, situated across the road from St Mary's Church. The original factory building still stands but empty, since the company ended its association with the town in 2009.

With the decline of traditional industries and the resulting high rate of unemployment, the town's economy is now dependent on the nearby Sellafield complex, which provides jobs to around half the town's people.

Railway
From 1879 Cleator Moor had two railway stations: Cleator Moor West on the Cleator and Workington Junction Railway and Cleator Moor East on the Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway. In 1923 both railway companies and their stations passed over to the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The LMS had acquired shares in the local bus company so to make public transport more lucrative the LMS closed both stations to passengers in 1931.

Cleator Moor West railway station was opened as "Cleator Moor" by the Cleator and Workington Junction Railway (C&WJR) in 1879. The line was one of the fruits of the rapid industrialisation of West Cumberland in the second half of the nineteenth century, being specifically borne as a reaction to oligopolistic behaviour by the London and North Western and Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railways. The station was on the company's main line from Moor Row to Workington Central. Both line and station opened to passengers on 1 October 1879.

The station was renamed "Cleator Moor West" on 2 June 1924 to avoid confusion with its neighbour on the former Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway line to Rowrah, which was renamed "Cleator Moor East".

All lines in the area were primarily aimed at mineral traffic, notably iron ore, coal and limestone, none more so than the new line to Workington, which earned the local name "The Track of the Ironmasters". General goods and passenger services were provided, but were very small beer compared with mineral traffic.

Passenger trains consisted of antiquated Furness stock hauled largely by elderly Furness engines referred to as "...rolling ruins..." by one author after a footplate ride in 1949. No Sunday passenger service was ever provided on the line.

Cleator Moor West closed on 13 April 1931 when normal passenger traffic ended along the line. Diversions and specials, for example to football matches, made use of the line, but it was not easy to use as a through north-south route because all such trains would have to reverse at Moor Row or Corkickle.

An enthusiasts' special ran through on 6 September 1954, the only to do so using main line passenger stock. The next such train to traverse any C&WJR metals did so in 1966 at the north end of the line, three years after the line through Cleator Moor closed.

By 1981 the station had been demolished and the cutting had largely been filled in. By 2008 the trackbed had become a public cycleway.

Cleator Moor East railway station was the second station built by the Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway. The line was one of the fruits of the rapid industrialisation of West Cumberland in the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Subsidence led the company to build a deviation line which curved round the west side of the original station and the growing settlement, in a similar manner to what it was forced to do at Eskett a few miles to the east. They built a passenger station on the deviation line - known locally as "The Bowthorn Line" - which would go on to be called Cleator Moor East.

When the deviation line and station opened in 1866 the original station was closed to passengers and became "Cleator Moor Goods Depot." It remained open for goods traffic until the 1950s.

The station closed on 13 April 1931 when normal passenger traffic ended along the line, though workmen's trains were reinstated in March 1940, only to be withdrawn a month later. An enthusiasts' special ran through on 5 September 1954. After scant occasional use the line northwards from Rowrah was abandoned in 1960 and subsequently lifted.

The line southwards from Rowrah through Cleator Moor East lead a charmed life, continuing with a limestone flow from a quarry at Rowrah until 1978, after which all traffic ceased and the tracks were lifted.

Keekle Viaduct
The viaduct is a substantial structure which carried the double-track C&WJR's Cleator Moor West to Siddick Junction via Workington Central main line over the River Keekle. It is situated between the former stations of Cleator Moor West and Keekle Colliers' Platform.

Opened in 1879, it consists of seven equal stone arches across the river. Timetabled passenger services over the viaduct ended on 13 April 1931. Goods and mineral trains, with very occasional passenger excursions and diversions continued to use the line until it closed completely on 16 September 1963.

The tracks were subsequently lifted. The structure was offered for sale for £1 in 1992, but there was no initial response, as any purchaser would have to maintain and repair it, rather than demolish it and recover the stone.

Sectarian troubles (19th century)
It may be that the Irish Famine prompted some increased migration to the town but links between West Cumbria and the northern counties of Ireland had been established before this time. Labourers crossed to work the harvest and, more permanently, take jobs in the mines and ports long before the Famine often prompted by the constant sub-division of farmland among children. From the 1850s to the 1880s, the population expanded rapidly as rich veins of haematite were exploited. From a settlement of 763 in 1841, Cleator Moor grew to house 10,420 souls by 1871, thirty-six percent of whom were Irish. As Donald MacRaild writes, "...formative economic developments, urban growth and the mass arrival of the Irish, took place entirely in years beyond the Famine." The Irish in Cleator Moor were predominantly Roman Catholic but the general influx into the mines and industry of West Cumbria also brought others of a different persuasion from the same country and with them a particular sectarianism to add to the anti-Catholicism of Victorian England.

During the late 1860s the Irish Protestant preacher William Murphy led anti-Catholic meetings throughout the country inciting mobs to attack Catholic targets. Near Chelmsford in Essex they burnt down a Catholic convent. In May 1868, two chapels a school and over one hundred houses and shops in Ashton-under-Lyme were ransacked. This led to the Catholic populations defending themselves and their buildings and when Murphy visited Whitehaven in April 1871, the Catholic iron ore miners of Cleator Moor were determined to confront him. The local authorities requested Murphy and his Orange Order backers to cancel his talks but they would not. He was heckled and threatened at the first meeting in the Oddfellows Hall, Whitehaven and eventually had to be escorted from the place. The following evening there was more concerted opposition as 200 - 300 Cleator Moor miners marched to the Hall and assaulted Murphy before the meeting began. Five men were sentenced for the attack. Murphy died in March 1872 and his death was attributed to the injuries he had received in Whitehaven. Disturbances in the area were regular during the years that followed particularly when Orangemen assembled on 12 July and on that date in 1884, the most serious of them occurred. That was the year the local Orange Lodges decided to hold their annual gathering at Cleator Moor, a deliberately provocative move: "as if to court disturbance the Orangemen... decided they would this year hold their annual demonstration in the stronghold of the enemy". The marchers including eight bands paraded past the Catholic church and held their assembly at Wath Brow. As the gathering broke up and the Orangemen made their way back to the train station, trouble broke out. They were attacked by groups of local men throwing stones and then rushing them. Some of the marchers carried revolvers, cutlasses and pikes which they now used. A local postal messenger, Henry Tumelty, a 19-year-old Catholic was shot in the head and killed while others were listed as having received injuries from these weapons. The local Catholic priests defended their parishioners saying they had been provoked beyond measure by the foul sectarian tunes and the weaponry. Fr. Wray expressed serious regret: "It has thrown us back at least twenty years."

Education
Cleator Moor has a Carnegie library, a grade II listed building which opened in 1906.

The town had two secondary schools but both have closed. St. Cuthbert's stopped functioning in 1977 and in August 2008, after being open for 50 years, the town's other secondary school, Ehenside School was merged with Wyndham School in Egremont, making way for the West Lakes Academy. The academy initially used the Wyndham School buildings until a new academy building was constructed.

Listed Buildings
Cleator Moor contains 15 listed buildings that are recorded in the National Heritage List for England. All the listed buildings are designated at Grade II, the lowest of the three grades, which is applied to buildings of national importance and special interest. The listed buildings include churches and associated structures, houses and associated structures, shops, a bank, civic buildings including offices and a library, and a memorial fountain.

St Leonard's Church
12th century - The nave was rebuilt in 1841–42 by George Webster, and further alterations were carried out in 1900–03 by J. H. Martindale. The chancel is Norman and built in large blocks of sandstone and has pilaster buttresses, the rest of the church is in rubble with stepped buttresses and castellated parapets, and the roofs are slated with coped gables and apex crosses. The church consists of a west baptistry, a nave with a north porch, and a chancel with a vestry. At the west end, over the porch, is a gabled double bellcote

Old Hall and wall
Late 17th century - Originally a hall, later altered, extended and subdivided to form a symmetrical group of nine houses. They are rendered, most with slate roofs. The central house, originally the hall, has three storeys, three bays, a rear wing, and a porch. It is flanked by two-storey two-bay houses, each with a bracketed cornice, and one with a porch. The outer houses project forward, they have two storeys and three bays, the central bay projecting forward and gabled. Most windows are sashes. Along the front of the houses is a wall of sandstone and boulders, with semicircular coping, and pair of monolithic gate posts.

Troughton House
Late 18th or early 19th century - A stuccoed house on a moulded plinth with corner pilasters, an eaves string course, and a slate roof with coped gables. There are two storeys, an L-shaped plan, a symmetrical front of three bays, and a recessed two-bay wing to the right. Steps lead up to the doorway that has a rectangular fanlight, an architrave, and a cornice. The windows are sashes in stone surrounds, and in the wing is a porch.

The Flosh
1832 - Originally a country house, later used as offices, then a hotel. It was enlarged in 1837, and in 1866 a wing in Elizabethan style was added to the south. The building is roughcast with sandstone dressings on a chamfered plinth, with a string course and a Welsh slate roof. There are two storeys and a south front of seven bays. On the south front is a castellated porch with gargoyles in the corners, and gables with decorative bargeboards. The east front has four bays and two gabled dormers. The windows are mullioned or mullioned and transomed.

5 Jacktrees Road and verandah
1856 - The verandah was added to the former Cooperative shop in 1876. The building is in rendered rubble and has a Welsh slate roof with coping at the south end. There are three storeys and 13 bays. In the ground floor is a 20th-century shop front with original fluted and panelled pilasters. In the upper floors are sash windows with stone surrounds. The cast iron verandah rests on a cornice above the shop front; it is glazed and carried on 13 Gothic columns with pierced spandrels.

St John's Church
1870–72 - The church was designed by C. J. Ferguson in Norman style, and restored in 1900. It is in sandstone with quoins and buttresses, and has a slate roof with coped gables. The church consists of a nave with a clerestory, aisles, a chancel with chapels, and a west tower. The tower has three stages, and there is a stair turret to the south. All the windows have round arches and hood moulds.

St Mary's Church
1872 - A Roman Catholic church by E. W. Pugin, it is in sandstone with slate roofs. The church consists of a nave and chancel under one roof, a clerestory, transepts, and a chancel with chapels. The entrance front has a single-storey porch with a lean-to roof, a central doorway and flanking lancet windows. Above the porch are three tall lancets, and an elaborate bellcote. This contains three lancet niches, two circular niches with statues, and a bell in an arched opening.

13–20 High Street and 1 Union Street
Late 19th century - A row of eight shops, stuccoed, with a cornice over the shop fronts, a string course, an eaves cornice, and a hipped Welsh slate roof. There are three storeys and each shop has two bays. In the ground floor are 20th-century shop fronts, the shops separated by panelled pilasters with acanthus capitals. Above the windows in the middle floor are pediments, triangular and segmental alternating in pairs, and the top floor windows have stuccoed surrounds. The Union Street front has four bays and contains a doorway and a decorative panel.

National Westminster Bank
Late 19th century - The bank is in stone on a chamfered plinth, with a string course, an egg and dart cornice, an eaves cornice, and a slate roof with moulded gables surmounted by finials and containing dormers. There are two storeys, an attic, and five bays. The central doorway has an architrave and a serpentine head. The ground floor windows and dormers also have serpentine heads, and between some ground floor windows are engaged Ionic columns. Also on the front are polygonal pilasters.

Local Government Offices
1879 - These comprise two buildings of similar design at right angles to each other. The older contains offices and a market hall, and the other smaller building of 1894 originated as a library. They are in sandstone with hipped slate roofs. Each has a symmetrical front of a single tall storey and five bays, and a central portico with granite columns and a pediment. Steps lead up to the doors that have architraves and semicircular fanlights. The windows are sashes in architraves.

Memorial fountain
1903 - The fountain is in polished grey and pink granite. It has three steps, a moulded plinth, a squat inscribed drum, and a large bowl. From this a column rises and carries a smaller bowl. It was originally surmounted by a pelican, but this is missing.

Lych gate and walls, St Leonard's Church
c. 1903 - Designed by J. H. Martindale, the walls and the plinths of the lych gate are in sandstone. On the plinths is a wooden braced superstructure carrying a slate roof with gablets. On each side the walls, which are about 3 feet (0.91 m) high, form quadrants that are ramped at the ends. On the walls are wrought iron scrolled railings 18 inches (460 mm) high, and on the ends are cast iron lamp supports.

Library
1906 - The library is in sandstone on a chamfered plinth, and has a hipped Welsh slate roof. The symmetrical front has a single tall storey and five bays. The doorway is flanked by granite columns and has a pediment and an inscribed frieze; the door has an architrave and a semicircular fanlight with a mullioned window above. The windows are mullioned and transomed in architraves, and are separated by pilasters.

Cleator war memorial
1922 - The war memorial is in a walled enclosure by the side of the road. It is in grey granite, and consists of an urn with a floral swag on a three-tier pedestal with rosettes and egg and dart moulding on the cornice. This stands on a plinth with a moulded foot on a three-tiered base. On the plinth are stone plaques with inscriptions and the names of those lost in the two World Wars. The enclosure has sandstone walls with embattled coping, decorative iron railings, and a gate.

Cleator Moor war memorial
1922 - The war memorial is in the churchyard of St John's Church. It is in pink granite, and consists of a Celtic cross on a tapering shaft, which stands on a tapering four-sided plinth on one step. On the head of the cross is carved knot work, and on the lower part of the shaft and on the plinth are inscriptions and the names of those lost in the First World War. At the foot of the cross is a tablet with an inscription relating to the Second World War, and the memorial is surrounded by a low wall and eight square posts.

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St Leonard’s Church

St Leonard’s Church was built around 1100, in the reign of King Henry I . The church has undergone several changes during its 900 year histo...
St Leonard’s Church was built around 1100, in the reign of King Henry I. The church has undergone several changes during its 900 year history. The chancel is dated to the 12th Century. The nave was rebuilt in 1841 by G. Webster, and then further altered in 1900 by J. H. Martindale. The western baptistry, north porch, and vestry were added C1903.

The Chancel is built of sandstone blocks on a chamfered plinth, with pilaster buttresses and blocking. The rest of the church is in rubble with stepped buttresses and castellated parapets, and the roofs are slated with coped gables and apex crosses. Windows are early C20 copies of C16 windows (traceried to west end and south side). The church consists of a west baptistry, a nave with a north porch, and a chancel with a vestry. At the west end, over the porch, is a gabled double bellcote.

The walls and the plinths of the lych gate are in sandstone, built C1903 by J.H. Martindale. On the plinths is a wooden braced superstructure carrying a slate roof with gablets. On each side the walls, which are about 3 feet (0.91 m) high, are form quadrants that are ramped at the ends. On the walls are wrought iron scrolled railings 18 inches (460 mm) high, and on the ends are cast iron lamp supports.

A fine small Harrison organ was built in 1903 for St Leonard's Church by Francis J. Livesey, Organist of St. Bees Priory Church.

The Dissolution came into effect for St Leonard's church C1539. In 1541, the parish was brought into the diocese of Chester, but in 1856 this was changed to the diocese of Carlisle. The original parish was later divided, in 1870, with the creation of a church at Cleator Moor, which grew up as a result of the iron industry. Only the chancel of St Leonard’s Church is medieval, the nave having been rebuilt and enlarged in 1841. In the late C18, the walls of the chancel were raised about two feet, new pews were installed and the church was repainted, along with other changes.

Little is known about the early cross at Cleator, except that it was found in the walling around the churchyard (this cross should not to be confused with the so-called Fawn Cross). In the North wall one Norman window survives, though at a later date it was partially opened out on the exterior to let in more light. The church was largely restored in 1900-1903, when a new vestry, baptistry and porch were built. At the same time remains of a piscina were found in the S wall of the chancel. A carved animal also survives on a corbel stone on the SE exterior corner of the chancel.
Old Parish Church of Cleator 1792 - 1841
Medieval Piscina, St Leonard's Church, Cleator
Medieval Piscina
Cleator’s overlord was the baron of Copeland/Egremont, which was given by Ranulph de Machines to his brother William in about 1120. Richard of Cleator (‘Ricardo de Cleterche’) is the earliest known lord of the manor of Cleator, mentioned for the first time in the late 12C. Richard appears to have been the son of Anketell. The latter's father was Durand, who seems to be the same knight recorded with King David I of Scotland at Lamplugh when that king granted a charter to St Bees (the charter must date to the period 1136-1153).

King Henry II took back control of these lands from Scotland in 1157. Richard of Cleator’s brother, Nicholas, is recorded as ‘Nicholao persona’, and this has been interpreted as the first reference to the church at Cleator, ‘persona’ seemingly meaning ‘parson’.

The rectory of the church at Cleator was held by Calder Abbey, founded 1134/5 as an offshoot of Furness Abbey. It is uncertain when the church at Cleator came into the possession of the monks of the abbey, as the chartulary for Calder Abbey no longer exists, but it was recorded at the Reformation as being in their possession. The first monks of Calder Abbey stayed for only four years, being forced out when the abbey was sacked by invading Scots. These monks then moved to several places, eventually settling at Byland. Only in 1142/3 was there a re-foundation of the abbey at Calder, when a new group  of monks from Furness moved back to the site. The Savigniac order merged with the Cistercians in 1147 (though at Calder, as at Furness, this may not have taken effect until 1148). In the Papal Tax Roll of 1291-2, the church at Cleator was assessed at £4. 13s. 4d. It is listed there as ‘Ecclesia de Cleter’, within the deaconry of ‘Couplandie’ (i.e. Copeland/Allerdale-above-Derwent).

In or around 1315, James Douglas attacked and burned the manor of Cleator during the fight for Scottish Independence, but there is no mention of an attack on the church. Further work on the church was carried out in the 15C, as evidenced by the surviving S windows of the chancel and by the discovery, in 1900-1903, of earlier sections of an E window. There is a variety of medieval spellings for Cleator, including ‘Cletergh’, ‘Cleterche’, ‘Cleterne’, ‘Cletour’ and ‘Cleter’.

The Old Parish Church Of Cleator, 1841 - 1900
The Old Parish Church Of Cleator, 1841 - 1900
  • The piscina was discovered in the 1900-1903 restorations when the walls were stripped back. It was formed from two carved stones, an upper one with recess and a lower one with bowl, the projection of which has been cut away. As a result of the cutting back of the latter stone, part of the original drainage hole can be seen at the centre of the present front surface. No decorative features, if there were any, survive on either stone. 
  • The surviving window on the N wall of the chancel has no carved decoration. The outer face was widened at some point in the past, presumably to let in more light. On the interior, there is a wide splay.
  • There is an animal carved on the SE corner of the chancel. It is weather-worn and sculpted from the same red sandstone as the surrounding stonework. The figure seems to be legless and has a humanoid face. There is a curved section at the animal's back, suggesting a kind of tail.
  • The loose fragment of a cross, now kept inside the church, is carved similarly on both sides (though one side is in better condition than the other). The four arms splay outwards in straight lines from a carved central ring, the centre of which is pierced, forming a circular hole through the stone. At least two of the sides have been cut back, presumably for reuse. From the surviving original edges, however, it appears that the head of the cross was set against a recessed circular area of stone. The base of the cross, formed by an extension of the lower arm, is broken off. There are no further decorative features carved into the stone.
In 1916, the Reverend Caesar Caine wrote that the section of cross had been built into one of the churchyard walls and suggested it originally formed part of a grave cover. Caine also listed it as 13C. In 1988 Rosemary Cramp suggested a date of late 11C to mid 12C for the cross. Cramp suggested that the cross was originally used as a head stone.

When the piscina was discovered in the restorations of 1900-3, it was proposed that it was contemporary with the walls, which appear to be part of the Norman church, and therefore contemporary with the north window of the chancel. Martindale suggested a date for this part of the church as early 12C. During the 20C restorations, it was discovered that the interior walling at the lower level was built of 'round cobbles' above which was dressed stone. The exterior of the chancel shows numerous changes, including a difference in stonework at various levels. The carved animal on the SE corner is enigmatic and its date uncertain. It has been suggested that it was one of the early corbels before the walls of the chancel were heightened in the 18C.

11th Century Cross built into the wall of St Leonards Church
11th Century Cross built into the wall of St Leonards Church

Saint Leonard

Leonard of Noblac (or of Limoges or Noblet; also known as Lienard, Linhart, Leonhard, Léonard, Leonardo, Annard) (died 559 AD), is a Frankish saint closely associated with the town and abbey of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, in Haute-Vienne, in the Limousin (region) of France.

According to the romance that accrued to his name, recorded in an 11th-century vita, Leonard was a Frankish noble in the court of Clovis I, founder of the Merovingian dynasty. He was converted to Christianity along with the king, at Christmas 496, by Saint Remigius, Bishop of Reims. Leonard asked Clovis to grant him personally the right to liberate prisoners whom he would find worthy of it, at any time.

Leonard secured the release of a number of prisoners, for whom he has become a patron saint, then, declining the offer of a bishopric - a prerogative of Merovingian nobles - he entered the monastery at Micy near Orléans, under the direction of Saint Mesmin and Saint Lie. Then, according to his legend, Leonard became a hermit in the forest of Limousin, where he gathered a number of followers. Through his prayers the queen of the Franks safely bore a male child, and in recompense Leonard was given royal lands at Noblac, 21 km (13 mi) from Limoges. It is likely that the toponym was derived from the Latin family name Nobilius and the common Celtic element -ac, simply denoting a place. There he founded the abbey of Noblac, around which a village grew, named in his honour Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat.

According to legend, prisoners who invoked him from their cells saw their chains break before their eyes. Many came to him afterwards, bringing their heavy chains and irons to offer them in homage. A considerable number remained with him, and he often gave them part of his vast forest to clear and make ready for the labours of the fields, that they might have the means to live an honest life.
St Leonard's Church, Cleator, as it is today
St Leonard's Church, Cleator, as it is today
Top Photo: Old Parish Church of Cleator 1792 - 1841

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Cleator Moor (Little Ireland): St Leonard’s Church
St Leonard’s Church
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Cleator Moor (Little Ireland)
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