Caton - looking south toward Clougha
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The civil parish of Caton-with-Littledale is situated in Lancashire, England, near the River Lune. The parish lies within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contains the villages of Caton, Brookhouse, Caton Green, Littledale and Townend.
Evidence of the Roman occupation in the area is from a mill stone, eight feet long found in Artle Beck in 1803, bearing the name of the Emperor Hadrian; and further engraved stone found some time later.
Archaeological, place name and other evidence attests that Norse invaders settled in the area in the tenth century (Wainwright 1975). Caton is supposedly named from the Norse personal name Kati (Ekwall 1960), meaning 'cheerful' and ton. Geoffrey Hodgson (2008) argues that the Viking invasion of the area accounts for the relatively high frequency of the Hodgson surname in Caton and elsewhere in Lonsdale.
In late 18th century five mills were built in Town End. Low Mill cotton mill was built for cotton weaving in 1783 on the site of a 13th-century corn mill. it was built by Thomas Hodgson (1738–1817), a slave-trader and son of a Liverpool merchant.(Hodgson 2008) It was powered by a millrace from the Artle Beck at Gresgarth. Water power was replaced by steam in 1819. In the mid 19th century there were two silk mills, two cotton mills, and a flax mill. In 1846 Ball Lane Mill was burnt down. Rumble Row Mill and Forge Mill operated until the 1930s and Willow Mill and Low Mill closed in the 1970s. In 1826 coal and slate were worked in Littledale and bobbins for the mills were made. In 1858 Adam Hodgson built a house which is now the Scarthwaite Hotel.
Caton is 5 miles north-east of Lancaster on the road to Hornby in the valley of the River Lune. It covers over 8,000 acres of which 4,000 were moorland where stone was quarried. The township is hilly, Caton Moor in the east rises to over 1,000 feet (361 metres) above sea level and to the south rises to Clougha Pike at 1,355 feet (413 metres) and Ward's Stone at 1,841 feet (561 metres). The Artle Beck flows in a northerly direction towards the wider flatter valley of the River Lune.
A turnpike road from Lancaster to Hornby and Kirkby Lonsdale, the A683, was constructed in 1812, bypassing the old route through Brookhouse and Caton Green. This road connects Caton to the M6 motorway to the west.
Caton railway station was opened in 1850 on the "Little" North Western Railway between Wennington and Lancaster and closed in 1966. The section between Caton and Lancaster is now a popular cycle and pedestrian path.
The village was home to SJ Bargh haulage, including a Scania garage and repair plant, until the firm moved to Caton Road, Lancaster in 2015.
The village of Caton has a health centre, pharmacy, Co-operative store, petrol station, Ford dealership, funeral director, the Station Hotel and the Ship Inn. It is also home to a cake shop specialising in custom-made cakes and other bakes.
The village of Brookhouse has a Chinese fish and chip takeaway, a convenience store, a bridal shop and a hair salon, previously a florist and The Black Bull Inn public house.
The original chapel built in about 1245 was rebuilt in the 1500s with a square tower. The present Church of St Paul is the parish church and, with the exception of the tower, was rebuilt between 1865-67 by Edward Graham Paley retaining some Norman features. There are other places of worship including Our Lady Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Caton Methodist Church, Caton Baptist Church in and Brookhouse Methodist Church. There is a memorial to the younger Thomas Hodgson inside St Paul's Church, displaying the family's coat of arms.
The beauty of the area was captured by the artist J M W Turner and described by the poet William Wordsworth. The poet Thomas Gray wrote, "every feature which constitutes a perfect landscape of the extensive sort is here not only boldly marked, but in its best position". When John Ruskin first saw the Lune Valley, he declared, "I do not know in all my country, still less France or Italy, a place more naturally divine or a more priceless possession of the true Holy Land..." although this was attributed to a view from the yard of St Mary's Church in near by Kirkby Lonsdale, since known as "Ruskin View" rather than the Lune Valley in the parish of Caton-with-Littledale.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Caton-with-Littledale Parish (E04005184)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
- CatonTownship Boundaries, GenUKI, retrieved 29 March 2011
- "The History of Caton-with-Littledale", Caton Village
- Lewis, Samuel (1848), "Caton", A Topographical Dictionary of England, British History Online, pp. 531–534, retrieved 27 March 2011
- Chapter 12: The Lune Floodplain and the Top of Bowland (pdf), Drakkar Press, retrieved 30 March 2011
- Farrer, William; Brownbill, J, eds. (1914), "Caton", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8, British History Online, pp. 79–85, retrieved 29 March 2011
- Lancashire County Council Accession number LANMS.1973.49
- J.W.A. Price/ I. Trippier. The Willow Mill, Caton.
- Church of St Paul, Listed Buildings Online, retrieved 27 March 2011
- Ekwall, Eilert (1960) The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
- Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (2008) Hodgson Saga, second edition (Standon, Hertfordshire: Martlet Books).
- Wainwright, F. T. (1975) Scandinavian England: Collected Papers (Chichester: Phillimore).
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