Family History Notebook

Limestone Brae, West Allendale

Limestone Brae is located in West Allendale about 2km along the road from Carrshield to Ninebanks (NY795498). The old cottage is adjacent to the Methodist Chapel built in 1825. A Sunday School extension was added to the Chapel for Queen Victoria's golden jubilee in 1875.  There used to be a woollen mill in Wolf Cleugh but I do not know when it opened or closed (it is shown on the 1865 map but probably closed before 1851). High Wolf Cleugh Farm is 1km up the road. Lower (or Nether) Limestone Brae is located at NY792500 (with a more recent dwelling - Limestone Brae House - beside the road and another house -Ebenezer - on the east side of the road);  the property called Linn View in reference 2 is at NY795497. This latter is said to be originally a bastle of early 17th century date being extended southwards over the next two centuries. This must be 'Over LimestoneBrey' - but is it 'High/upper Limestone Brae'?  The building now known as Woodbine Cottage (Linn View Cottage) is opposite the chapel. Between Woodbine Cottage and Lower Limestone Brae is a small burial ground containing maybe twenty headstones. I have noted down details from a few and have transcribed the burial plan.
The only other dwellings in Limestone Brae, Thrush Hole, together with Myrtle Bank, have become a Buddhist Abbey

In 2008/9 the Methodist Chapel was converted into a private dwelling house.

1865 6" to 1 mile map (Click map to display a larger area)


Limestone Brae cottage
Weslyan Manse, West Allendale

Limestone Brae Methodist Chapel

Lower (Nether) Limestone Brae

Upper (Over) Limestone Brae (Linn View??)

Woodbine Cottage (front)
(Linn View cottage)

Woodbine Cottage (rear)
(Linn View cottage)

Limestone Brae panorama

In 1547 'Overlynestane braye' was held by Thomas Woodmas and 'Netherlynestane braye' by Hugh Philipson. In 1608 William Stout (or Stowte) owned the Over 'Limestonbrey', which he had inherited from his brother Christopher in 1601, and George Philipson 'Nether Limestonbrey'. In 1665 both tenements were held by Ralph Featherstone. There is said to have been an old lead mine at the place. (Hodgson 'History of Northumberland'). A lead level is shown on the 1865 OS map at Thrush Hole.

In 1688 the Quarterly Meeting of the Society of Friends advised that a meeting house should be built at Wooley Burnfoot and another in some convenient place in West Allendale. Accordingly in 1690, Ralph Featherstone surrendered a piece of ground at Limestone Brea for a meeting house and graveyard; and in 1691 the meeting house was recorded at the General Quarter Sessions. 1 In 1718 the Quaker Hugh Watson of Studden (in East Allen) was made trustee of the Meeting House at Limestone Brae. (In 1694 Cuthbert Featherston of Taylor-bourn and Thomas Williamson of Hesleywell were, with other Quakers, committed to prison for non-payment of tithes). It is not apparent which building would have been the meeting house. 3

In 1765 Thomas Whitfield lived at Nether Limestonebrey with his wife Hannah (Makepeace).

In 1767 John Swindle was born at High (Over) Limestone Brae.

In 1787 John Swindle (or his father John Swindal)  bought the old meeting house5 from the Friends and in 1793 he married Barbara Bowman who had been born at Limestone Brae in 1773. They lived there for the rest of their lives. In about 1800 in the inclosure settlementfor the Allendale Commons he was allotted land stretching east from the road up towards the remaining moor. Over the next 17 years at least seven children were born - Sarah, Barbara, John, Thomas, George, Betty and Mary - and at some time, following the death of John's father (1790) and brother Thomas (1791), his mother Sarah joined them to live with until she died in 1827. John died in 1812 and Barbara in 1835.

In 1787 John's sister Elizabeth married Thomas Hetherington and their first three children were born at High Limestone Brae (1788, 1790, 1792) before the couple probably moved to Hollin Close in East Allendale.

In 1811 tithes were collected from William Ridley and John Swindale in respect of Limestone Bree. In April 1812 John Swindle provided Limestone Brae as the security (mortgage) for a 200 loan at 5% interest.

John's eldest daughter, Sarah, married Matthew Chester in 1811 and their children Joseph, John, Barbara and Matthew were born at (High) Limestone Brae between 1812 and 1824 but the Chester family were not living there in 1851.

John's second daughter, Barbara, probably married John Coates in 1815. In any case John and Barbara's children were born at Limestone Brae between 1818 and 1831. However the Coates family were not living there in 1851.

John's eldest son, also named John, married Jane Ridley in 1827 and their children were born at Limestone Brae between 1828 and 1839; he died at Limestone Brae in 1848.  His son John died, again at Limestone Brae, in 1859 leaving no known family). His daughter, Barbara, who had married William Armstrong, was living with her family at 'Limestone Brae' in 1851 and 'High Limestone Brae'  in 1881 while her mother, Jane, was living with Caleb Hetherington (who had married their daughter Mary) at Myrtle Bank (which is not shown on the 1865 map but is listed in the 1861 census). John's younger son Thomas died in 1861 at Myrtle Bank. The property at Limestone Brae (53 acres in 1861) was presumably eventually split between his sisters Barbara (Armstrong), Jane (Lee) and Mary (Hetherington).

John's middle son Thomas died when aged 18.

John's youngest son, George, married Margaret Whitfield and was bringing up a family at the same time as his brother John. (Confusingly several children had the same Christian names as their cousins and were the same age! (George died in 1839 and Margaret in 1841).

Both brothers John and George describe themselves as miners, but their father John had changed from miner to farmer by 1841.

Their cousin Christopher also lived at the old Meeting House at Limestone Brae from before 1837 to at least 1851 but had moved to Farneyside before he died in 1857.

In 1897 John Hodgson reports in his 'History of Northumberland' that Limestone Brae was owned by Mr W. C. B. Beaumont and Mr John Swindle. (Wentworth Canning Blackett Beaumont had been the owner of the lead mines in Allendale and and was the main landowner in the area). I think the reference to John Swindle was out-of-date.


1    Allendale and Whitfield: Historical Notices of the Two Parishes. George Dickinson 3rd Edition 1903

2    Bastle Houses in the Northern Pennines. Peter Ryder. North Pennines Heritage Trust 1996


3    According Marina Wallace from Farney Shield John Swindle gave all or part of what is now Woodbine Cottage for use as a Meeting House with a plot alongside as a burial ground - however as noted above this occurred some two centuries earlier. The building is not shown on the 1865 map. (See note, however, for 1718 above).

According to reference 1, two cottages had been erected on the old burial ground ... and near them the base of an old wayside cross. This cross is marked on the modern Ordnance Survey as being at the corner of the 1875 Sunday School extension but the base in fact can be found in the field on the opposite side of the road to where  it was presumably moved when the extension was built.It had certainly been moved by 1897 (see note 11) If the modern OS location represents the original location of the base of the cross, then it would appear that the Methodist Chapel could have been built on the site of the old Friends meeting house. However analysis of the census returns show that the Meeting House (cottage) coexisted with the Weslyan Chapel, and that almost certainly the present Woodbine Cottage is on the old Meeting House burial ground.

4    The inclosure map shows Limestone Brae Grounds - extending from the road to the river - as an existing inclosure. The land on the moor allocated to John Swindale stretches up from the road towards the higher new road to East Allendale. This raises an interesting point - if the land to the east of the road was not enclosed then John Swindale must have bought part of the old Limestone Brae Ground to have established an entitlement. This is supported by the 'surrender' to Hexham Manor in 1812.

5    According to Hodgson the "meeting house at Limestone Brae, on the West Allen, ..., at the end of the last century, was turned into a dwelling house and the graveyard into a garden".

6    In 1910 Kelly's Directory lists Armstrong Hindmarsh as the farmer at Lower Limestone Brae.

7    Limestone Brae mortgage of 1812

8    Raine's wills, Vol II p29:
4 May 1601 Adm Chr Stowte jun of Lymestone Brae par Alln to Wm S prox cons
20 Jan 1601 Adm Chr Stowte jun of Lymestone Brae to Wm S of L his bror, Mr Edwaward Teigate, cler

9    A property to the north-east of the road above Lower Limestone Brae is now named Ebenezer.

10 Allendale, co. Northumb. - residence for Methodist minister, &tc. at Limestone Brae, in the parish of, (connected with trusts at Skircoat) [Roll 1861.59, 11, 12, 13]
Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records 1871 P32

11    Then Limestone Brae was reached. Here the overturned massive socketted base, about 2 ft. 7 ins. square, of a wayside cross, roughly tooled, was observed from the carriages in a field to the west of the road, probably the ' ' Limestone Cross ' ...
Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne - 1897  p274

12    Limestone Brae through the census