The sprawling Parish of Ousby is about eight miles east-north-east of the market town of Penrith, on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which has remained largely unaltered for generations. The 1930s travel writer Arthur Mee wrote 'Above it towers Thack Moor, rising steeply from a stream flowing swiftly under the trees, and hereabouts on the road to Crewgarth are some slight green mounds marking an earthwork used either as a fortress or as an enclosure for cattle'. Actually it is Cross Fell that towers over Ousby - at 893 metres (2930 feet) it is the highest peak in the whole Pennine Range. Although located in a predominantly sheep-rearing area, Ousby remains very firmly on the cattle-breeding map with the local 'Limousin' herd providing National Champions and record-breaking figures at auction.
Photo: Rod Morris
The name of the village was derived from the Viking name 'Ulff' and was first recorded in the 12th Century as 'Uluesby'. The houses, farms, public house and church are stone built to resist the ravages of the ferocious 'Helm Wind' that occurs two or three times a year between September and May - the only wind in the United Kingdom to actually merit a name of its own.
The 13th Century Church of St Luke stands a little way out of the village and contains a very rare, 700-year-old wooden carving of what at first appears to be a Crusader with tunic, armour, dagger, and his feet resting on a faithful hound. It transpires however that the Crusader or Templar options have been discarded in favour of the more homegrown candidates Adam Armstrong or maybe Julian Falcard. The Clan Armstrong Society maintains a close interest in the figure.
Photo: Rod Morris
The Great War and Second World War Rolls of Honour are to be found side by side with twelve names on the former and thirteen on the latter. The inscription on the older memorial reads:
THE ROLL OF HONOUR
Set in the south wall of St Luke's is a stained glass window bearing the following inscription:
ERECTED BY THE PARISHIONERS IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION
We do not know the individual experiences of Ousby's 'gallant dozen' but ninety years on from the end of hostilities the small Cumbrian community remains proud of their forefathers' brave contribution and most grateful in the knowledge that theirs is a 'Thankful Village'.
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