keswick panoramic cityscape

Penrith
Acorn Bank Garden
and Watermill
National Trust
Near Penrith
Cumbria CA10 1SP
 
A lovely place to visit on the north-eastern edge of the English Lake District is the Eden Valley with its historic villages of Temple Sowerby and Newbiggin.  In ancient times the area was all part of the Acorn Bank Estate (aka the Manor of Temple Sowerby).
 
Thanks to the National Trust the lovely red sandstone manor house has been restored with the western wing being made into National Trust holiday flats. The 17th century walled gardens, orchards, and the large watermill on Crowdundle Beck have been restored and opened to the public.
 
A Renowned Herb Garden
Renowned for having the North of England's largest collection of culinary and medicinal plants in a marvellous herb garden, Acorn Bank Garden really is a plant lover's delight. More than 250 varieties are grown in a walled garden - baneberry, black root, wild indigo, tansy, borage, and elacampane are just some of the plants to be found.
 
Two orchards, adjacent to the herb garden, contain a varied collection of rare and regional fruit trees.  An information leaflet describing the gardens, and listing all the herbs and their medicinal uses, is available in the National Trust shop.
 
There is always something to see in the garden, even in February when delicate snowdrops cover the ground in the Wild Garden.  Spring brings an abundance of daffodils, narcissus and wood anemones and the apple trees are laden with blossom.
 
Great crested newts can be found in the garden pond and bees and butterflies can be spotted busy in the colourful, sheltered, walled gardens.
 
There are a number of walks which enable visitors to take a gentle circular stroll through the old oak woodland and alongside the Crowdundle Beck to the Watermill. After exploring the walks and gardens, delicious refreshments using fresh herbs and fruit from the orchards await the hungry visitor in the tea room.
 
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Acorn Bank Watermill 
An enthusiastic band of volunteers is gradually restoring the mill and on certain days visitors can see it in full operation.  At other times it is open for inspection and an information leaflet on how it works is available at the NT shop.
 
There has been a mill on this site for hundreds of years but the present building dates from the early 19th century.  It is an impressive mill with four pairs of millstones in line, two being driven by each waterwheel. There were once three 12 ft (3.7 metres) diameter waterwheels in line, though only one is currently working. The upper wheel is a pitchback, and the other two were both overshot.
 
The millrace is a channel bringing water from the weir, a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) above the mill. The water is taken from Crowdundle Beck to give a head of about 13 feet (4 metres) of water to drive the waterwheels.
 
Oats were the main grain milled and a kiln was used to dry the grain before milling.  The kiln is the next item on the list for restoration.  The mill with its barn and yard, where the miller fed his pigs on mill waste, is most interesting and well worth visiting.
 
Connections with the Knights Templar
Acorn Bank house occupies an exposed position in the foothills of the Pennines and was a base for the Knights Templar.  This early 12th century religious and military society was established to protect the Jerusalem Temple and its pilgrims.  Some time before 1228 the Acorn Bank Estate came into the possession of a Knights Templar and the little village of Sowerby was renamed Temple Sowerby.
 
The house and village remained a Templar stronghold until the Knights Templar were suppressed by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France under charges of heresy in 1312.  In 1323 their estates including the Manor of Sowerby, were given to the Knights Hospitallers who remained until 1545 when Henry VIII gave the manor to a local family. 
 
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Plan Your Visit 
Opening Times
Summer Opening: 
10:00 – 17:00 hours. Closed Tuesdays.

Winter Opening:
Weekends only 11:00 – 16:00 hours.
 
Admission Prices
National Trust Members free except for special events such as Apple Day in October.
 
Disabled Access
Separate parking 50 yards (46 metres)  with drop-off point at garden entrance. Toilet in garden courtyard.
 
- Watermill: Level access only available to upper information room in watermill. Ground floor has steps. Narrow outside staircase to lower mill rooms.
 
- Grounds:   Partly accessible, grass and lose gravel paths, some steps, undulating terrain.  Map of accessible route.
 
Facilities
Toilets, tea room and shop.
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone    +44 (0)1768 361 893
Mail    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Getting There
- By Car
Just north of Temple Sowerby, 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Penrith, 1 mile (1.6 km) from A66 
 
Google Maps - Acorn Bank Garden and Watermill