Once the country town of Westmorland, Appleby lies in the fertile land of the Eden Valley and it is sheltered by the Pennies to the east and the fells of the Lake District to the west. It adjoined the Roman route from the south to Hadrian's Wall. The town itself was originally called Appleby only until 1972 when Cumbria was formed by the Local Government Act.
One of the main attractive elements of Appleby is its main street, Boroughgate, which is a steep sloped road with buildings on the side such as the Hospital of St Anne and St Lawrence Church, the parish church for the area. Both of these buildings were restored or built by Lady Anne Clifford, a resident of Appleby Castle and the devoted noblewoman who restored many of the churches, estates and northern Castles such as Brougham, Skipton, Appleby, Brougham and Mallerstang -also known as Pendragon Castle. Appleby Castle stands strategically on top of the hill of Boroughgate and plays an important part of Appleby's history from raids and attacks made by the Scottish in the 11th century to the importance and devotion shown by the Clifford family in the 17th century. Norman works can be seen from Scattergate Green and despite the renovation, much of the old parts of the castle remain such as Caesar's Tower. The castle, although privately owned, has some parts open to the public via small private tours which can be booked by the Appleby Tourist Information Centre.
The parish church, St Lawrence, located at the bottom of the main street, has a history dating back from the 12th century at roughly 1150. It was burnt at least twice in Scottish raids and this would explain the 8 foot thick walls of the tower which were built as a fortress. It was the largest and strongest public building in medieval times and was a secure place of worship. The restored organ was given to the church by Carlisle Cathedral in 1683. In a chapel to the left of the altar are two interesting tombs, that of Lady Anne Clifford and her mother Margaret. Anne's tomb is backed by a display of her family tree demonstrated by heraldic shields.
Appleby is now known for the Appleby Horse Fair which runs for a week every June and ends on the 2nd Wednesday of June. It was set up in 1685 as a fair for horse trading and has become the largest of its kind in the world attracting a massive amount of travellers from all over Britain. It attracts around 45,000 people (both travellers and tourists) at the time.
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Cumbria Tourist Information