For several hundred years, Temple Sowerby House belonged to a local family by the name of Atkinson. In 1577, Thomas Dalston of Acorn Bank, the Lord of the Manor, granted leases for land to certain inhabitants of Temple Sowerby, for a period of 999 years. Two of these inhabitants were Jane and William Atkinson, a widow and her son.
The Atkinson family created Temple Sowerby House, to rival the existing ‘great house’ at Acorn Bank, which was the local Manor House at the time. They built most of the present house in the 1720’s (the year 1727 being carved into one of the sandstone door lintels). The site goes back to the 16th century, where a farmhouse stood.
The family were yeoman farmers in the Eden Valley; that is, they owned their house and land and had become so wealthy through the local tanning industry, that by the early 1800’s, they also owned sugar plantations in the West Indies. This was often a lucrative investment for Cumbrians, who would trade through the flourishing Port at Whitehaven.
Temple Sowerby House became the principal residence within the village. The core of the house dates from the 17th and early 18th centuries. Originally a farmhouse, the elegant front wing was added in the early 19th century. During this period in Cumbria, farmhouses were often re-built or enlarged, with the old house kept as a barn or outbuilding.
It remained a private residence, but by the 1970’s, it had fallen into such a state of disrepair that it was due to be demolished. Luckily, it was bought by John Kennedy and Joe Armstrong, who recognised its potential and converted the building into the Hotel you see today.
The areas of the house covering the bar, restaurant, private dining room and the owners’ private wing, date back to the early 1720’s. The rest of the main building, is Georgian and dates back to the 1820’s. It is believed that the Coach House is of even earlier construction, perhaps dating back to the 1500’s.