A Gem of a Village

Just five miles South of the City of Carlisle, lies the small village or Wreay (pronounced Ree-a).

 It is thought that the name refers to its position on the river Petteril and originates from the old Norse Vra, meaning secluded nook or corner of land.

Varied spellings over the years have included Wrea, Wrey, Wray and of course Wreay, as it is known today.

Wreay information board

Wreay information board

The roads in, lead directly to a neat village green displaying a well presented notice board detailing the many interesting features of the village.

St, Mary’s Church flanking one side of the green may at first appear to be just another parish church, but a venture inside reveals breathtaking, architecture, carving and stone masonry.

Wreay Church

Wreay Church

 

 

The church was rebuilt in 1840-1842 by Sarah Losh as a memorial to her sister Catherine and her parents, reflecting her love of Italian and French architecture combined with an exuberant imagination.

 

A water pump opposite the church reveals a history dating back to Roman times.

During excavations at the church a tiled watercourse was discovered, the waters of which flowed all the way to Carlisle Cathedral.

St. Ninian, when traveling through Carlisle had remarked on the wonder of the fountain and the source of the water at Wreay.  

The aquafer below Wreay dictated the position of the crossroads around which the village has grown.

Water Pump

Water Pump

The villagers collected their water from this pump until the early 1930’s when the houses were connected to a mains water supply.

In 1988 the villagers replaced the pump with the one seen today, but sadly the water no longer meets health standards and the pump is chained.

 

Of the many trees around the village, the majority would appear to be oak and small signs around the village warn us to be careful as this is one of the rare habitats for the red squirrel.

Red squirrels live here

Red squirrels live here

A footpath from Wreay leads to Wreay Woods Nature Reserve,  following the course of a red sandstone gorge of the River Petterill.

The reserve is owned by Carlisle City Council and is managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

It is a semi-natural ancient woodland of mainly native broadleaved trees.

The river bank is mostly alder and in spring is covered with a bright carpet of wild flowers. A variety of bird species inhabit the reserve, including blackcap and long-tailed tit, dipper, grey wagtail and kingfishers.

Red squirrel and roe deer may also be sighted. A riverside footpath runs through the woods and continues up to Carlisle.

Around half a mile North East of the village stand the remains of a Roman fort on the banks of the river Petteril.

 

Rail line

Rail line

A public footpath through the village offers some picturesque views over the valley and leads over the railway, possibly the West Coast main line.

 

An interesting, detailed entry from Bulmer’s History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901 can be found at the following website.

 





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