PENRITH, ENGLAND, a market town in the Penrith parliamentary division of Cumberland, England, in a valley near the river Eamont, on the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith, London & North Western and North Eastern railways. Pop. of urban district (1901), 9182. It contains some interesting brasses. A 14th-century grammar school was refounded by Queen Elizabeth; and there are two mansions dating from the same reign, which have been converted into inns. Though there are breweries, tanneries and saw-mills, the town depends mainly on agriculture. There are some ruins of a castle erected as a protection against the Scots. Near Penrith on the south, above the precipitous bank of the Eamont, stands a small but beautiful old castellated house, Yanwath Hall. To the north-east of the town is Eden Hall, rebuilt in 1824. Among many fine paintings, it contains portraits by Hoppner, Kneller, Lely, Opie and Reynolds. The " Luck of Eden Hall," which has been celebrated in a ballad by the duke of Wharton, and in a second ballad written by Uhland, the German poet, and translated by Longfellow, is an enamelled goblet, kept in a leathern case dating from the times of Henry IV. or Henry V. It was long supposed to be Venetian, but has been identified as of rare Oriental workmanship. The legend tells how a seneschal of Eden Hall one day came upon a company of fairies dancing at St Cuthbert's Well in the park. These flew away, leaving their cup at the water's edge, and singing " If that glass either break or fall, Farewell to the luck of Eden Hall." Its true history is unknown.
Penrith, otherwise Penreth, Perith, Perath, was founded by the Cambro-Celts, but on a site farther north than the present town. In 1222 Henry III. granted a yearly fair extending from the eve of Whitsun to the Monday after Trinity and a weekly market on Wednesday, but some time before 1787 the market day was changed to Tuesday. The manor in 1242 was handed over to the Scottish king who held it till 1295, when Edward I. seized it. In 1397 Richard II. granted it to Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland; it then passed to Warwick the kingmaker and on his death to the crown. In 1694 William III. granted the honour of Penrith to the earl of Portland, by whose descendant it was sold in 1787 to the duke of Devonshire. A court leet and view of frankpledge have been held here from time immemorial. In the 18th and early part of the 19th century Penrith manufactured checks, linen cloth and ginghams, but the introduction of machinery put an end to this industry, only the making of rag carpets surviving. Clock and watch-making seems to have been an important trade here in the 18th century. The town suffered much from the incursions of the Scots, and Ralph, earl of Westmorland, who died 1426, built the castle, but a tower called the Bishop's Tower had been previously erected on the same site. In 1597-1598 a terrible visitation of plague attacked the town, in which, according to an old inscription on the church, 2260 persons perished in Penrith, by which perhaps is meant the rural deanery. During the Civil War the castle was dismantled by the Royalist commandant. In 1745 Prince Charles Edward twice marched through Penrith, and a skirmish took place at Clifton. The church of St Andrew is of unknown foundation, but the list of vicars is complete from 1223.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)