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Martindale and Thornbarrow Families

By 1874, the house belonged to a family called Martindale. We know this from records of this inscription in the churchyard at Mardale.


The initials MRCS and LSA stand for Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. The church in Mardale, along with the village and the rest of the valley, was flooded in 1935, in order to increase the capacity of Haweswater and form a large reservoir to supply water to Manchester.

In the 1881 census, Mary, a widow, is head of the household at Place Fell House:

The Martindale family cannot have lived at Place Fell House for very long, however, as Mary died in November 1881.


The next inhabitants that we know about were the Thornborrow family. Parish records from St Patrick’s Church, Patterdale, show the burials of two young people whose address is given as Place Fell House: Lizzie Ann Thornborrow aged 10 (buried on 12th January 1985) and Mary Rickerby Thornborrow aged 15 (on 12th July 1888).


The baptisms of these two girls are also recorded in the parish records, Mary’s on 19th February 1871 and Lizzie’s on 7th October 1874,  along with their brother Joseph Rickerby Thornborrow (born 19/9/1876, baptised 20/12/1876) and a younger sister Jane (born 25/9/1878). The parents of these four children were Joseph Jackson Thornborrow and his wife Anne.  At the time of the birth of their eldest child, their address is given as Hillside, Patterdale, and Joseph’s occupation is farmer. When the remaining three children were baptised their address is given as Side Farm, Patterdale. It seems likely that Hillside, Hill Side House and Side Farm are all names for the same farm, namely the one now known as Side Farm.


Joseph and Anne’s marriage is also recorded in the parish records, on 30th August 1866. He is described as a 28 year old bachelor from Penrith, and his occupation at this time was as a draper. His father’s name was John Thornborrow and he was a farmer. Anne was 26, her maiden name was Rickerby and her address is given as Side Farm. Her father, Joseph Rickerby, was also a farmer. Looking back at the 1861 census Joseph Rickerby and his wife Ann were living at Hill Side House with their four daughters, including Anne who was then aged 21.In the 1871 census Joseph and Anne are living at Hill Side with Anne’s parents and their baby daughter Mary aged 2 months.


By the 1881 census Joseph and Ann Thornborrow were living at Side Farm. Joseph is described as a ‘Farmer of 83 acres’, Ann as a ‘Farmer’s wife.’ Mary is 10, Lizzie 6 and Joseph 4.


The Thornborrow family must have moved into Place Fell House after the 1881 census, and could have lived there up until the house was bought by the Greenside Mining Company in 1890. They do not appear in the 1891 census so by then they must have moved away from the area.




However it is possible that there was another owner in the late 1880s. We have one more piece of information about this period, and that is that the actor Henry Irving stayed at the house in 1888, with Irving’s friend the dramatist Frank (Francis Albert) Marshall, and his second wife, the actress Ada Cavendish. We know this because Frank Marshall wrote Henry Irving a letter, dated 24th July 1888, headed Place Fell House, Patterdale, and referring to the recent visit. Marshal was at that time editing ‘The Irving Shakespeare’. The letter also asks after Ellen Terry’s health. A summary of the letter can be found here

Henry Irving

Ada Cavendish

Frank Marshall was the fifth son of William Marshall of Patterdale Hall. See here . We do not know if he owned the house, rented it or just visited it.


In affectionate remembrance of

John W. Martindale MRCS LSA

of Place Fell House Patterdale.

Born August 4th 1838.

Died July 21st 1874 and of his mother Mary Martindale,

daughter of the late Richard Holme of Mardale,

who died November 18th 1881

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