Mitre Inn / Mitre Hotel

The Mitre Inn (or Mitre Hotel), in King Street, Penrith, is now the The Lounge Hotel And Bar Mitre House.

I thought I’d try to find something about its history. Not least because of the the 17th doorway it retains. But also because if you search for the history of the Mitre Inn/Hotel online, then (apart from a link to my King Street article) you will only find options for the Crown and Mitre Hotel in Carlisle.

The doorway

Above the ancient door are the letters I S M, and the date 1669.

The I is actually how the letter J was styled in those times. The initials stand for John and Mary Sanderson. 

The 1721 will of John Sanderson shows he was a yeoman, and postmaster, of the Mitre, Bishop Row, Penrith. Also in 1669, a J Sanderson was a church warden.

It’s interesting that the address is Bishop Row. And that John was a postmaster – was the Mitre not originally a public house?

The episcopal manor of Bishop’s Row

The Mitre took its name from its proximity to St Andrew’s Church. Bishop’s Row belonged to the Church as well – there are various leases in the 1700s of houses in Bishop Row/Bishop’s Row/Bishop’s Raw/Bishopprawe to various tenants, from the Bishop of Carlisle. 

The manorial records of the Diocese of Carlisle include Bishop’s Row, Penrith. The original records book names ‘Johnes Sanderson’ in 1669, but it’s all in church Latin (’tenentes her indenturam’?). 

In 1681, it notes that John Sanderson holds by lease dated 1661 a messuage and garth in Bishop’s Row.

From that manor – there was/is a ‘Lordship of Bishop’s Row’. A title which doesn’t have any previous or present takers, it would seem. 

Sadly, it isn’t up for sale, either!

The Sanderson wills

The inventory of John Sanderson’s personal effects gives an idea of the rooms in the house (parlour, kitchen, the ‘high new room,’ the Green Chamber… And totals £227 – more than £40,000 in today’s values.

His will includes Sanderson’s barn at Townend, various parcels of land, a  dwelling house in Sandgate, and the dwelling house in Bishop’s Row ‘in which I now live, commonly called the Mitre’.

Other than ten shillings to grandson Riglesworth Sanderson, ten shillings to granddaughter Mary Sanderson and ten shillings to son Charles Sanderson, everything goes to his wife Mary.

Mary Sanderson’s will, of 1731, leaves widowed daughter Dorothy Whelpdale the barn and all the land, along with:

’my seat in the parish church, number forty six

and the seat allocated to ‘the house called the Mitre’. Which dwelling house is also left to Dorothy.

She then leaves half a guinea each to a list of grandchildren:

  • Richard, John, Mary and Dorothy Sanderson, children of her late son John. 
  • Elizabeth, Dororothy and Mary Whelpdale
  • Riglesworth Sanderson
  • Mary, daughter of her late son Charles.

The de Whelpdales

My post on Dockray Hall mentions one member of this family, John (c1580).

Fast-forward to 1723 and lawyer/money lender Thomas Whelpdale was buying up property (leases still with the diocese) in Bishop’s Yard. Reportedly, he ‘then acquired from relatives the Mitre, as well as other property in Bishop’s Row. 

The ‘relatives’ were the granddaughters of John and Mary Sanderson. John and Mary had a daughter Dorothy, who married William Whelpdale – and borrowed money from Thomas Whelpdale. When she died, her daughters had to give Thomas the Mitre as the debt was still owing. No doubt with a lot of interest.

In 1848, a list of  sale particulars of Walter Hutchinson Whelpdale’s life interest in the de Whelpdale estate includes The Mitre public house, King Street. 

Walter (1817-86) had inherited the family estate, but his finances were a total mess. He’d borrowed £7,700 (about £740,000 in today’s values) from a Dr Clarke, of Queen Street, London. By 1855, his entire inheritance belonged to Dr Clarke. This included Armathwaite Villa/Armathwaite Hall, Ainstable, and the de Whelpdale mansion in Bishop’s Yard  (later to be used as a school).

Walter married (Susanna) Rebecca Beasley in Buckinghamshire in 1853. By 1871, they were living in Sussex – his occupation is down as ‘annuitant’. Rebecca died a year after Walter.

The Clarkes

Anthony William Clarke made the most of his acquisitions. By 1854, he was living at Armathwaite Villa/Armathwaite Hall. The 1851 census shows he was aged 46, a ‘landed proprietor’ with his second wife Mary, 26, four young sons, and several servants. There are stories about disputes over a well and fishing involving Clarke, but while interesting, they aren’t relevant to the Mitre.

The Mitre Inn

The Mitre stayed in the Clarke family until 1890, when the trustees of Anthony Clarke sold off the estate. The Mitre ‘changed hands privately,’ so wasn’t in the auction.

The Mitre Inn, Penrith is listed in an 1828, directory, when Robert Shields was the landlord.  

A Fletcher Pearson, 73, died there in 1890, but in 1881 and 1891, it was Mary Wright. The licence was transferred from Mary to a Robert Daffurn in 1902, and in 1911 a Herbert Lewis Robertshaw was listed there as a hotel keeper, with his wife Mary the manageress.


In 1882-83, solicitors’ records list the case of a Mary Clarke versus William Parker, regarding damage to the Mitre Inn, Penrith. Could this be William Parker of Carleton Hill (the receiver appointed by the Court of Chancery to sort out the de Whelpdale estate/Walter’s mess, in 1853)?

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a newspaper report to match, but if anyone has time to spare at Carlisle Archives…


1918. Sale of The Cumberland Estates, for the trustees of the late Anthony William Clarke esquire and Mrs Mary Clarke… 

Lot 22, freehold premises, situate in King Street, Penrith, property of Mrs Mary Clarke, including grocery establishment, with front shop and residential accommodation over; warehouse accommodation, known as Oddfellows’ Hall and residential portion

Lot 23, dwelling house, situate at the rear of lot 22, fronting onto Friar Street, Penrith, the property of Mrs Mary Clarke, let to Messrs Pears and Elliott