Cumpston Research

'Feetham and Low Row together make up one discontinuous line of settlement extending for almost 2km along the main Swaledale road. Neither can really be described as a village. Only a few properties, notably towards the east end of Low Row, actually front onto the road. Others are set further from it, those above the road often beyond an area of sloping green. The road itself has no pavements, and cannot be safely walked.

Many of the more interesting houses are on the south, set below the road - at one time there was an earlier road that ran nearer the river. This is not
an area well served by footpaths, and so, apart from bird’s-eye glimpses of their stone slate roofs, the houses remain largely hidden to the general public.
Some long-distance glimpses are available from footpaths on the opposite side of the valley.

The buildings of Feetham are by and large very typical of Swaledale. The earliest are houses of the 17th century, and show the usual features -
triangular-headed doorways (often helpfully dated on their lintels), mullioned windows, and small fire windows alongside the hearth. Heather thatch seems to have been universal at a vernacular level until the later 18th/19th century when almost all buildings had their eaves raised and were re-roofed
in flagstones. Occasional buildings - the Punchbowl Inn is a good example - still show the outline of a steep heather-thatched gable in one end wall.

Apart from the Punchbowl
(which only seems to have been a public house from the later 19th century) Feetham has no public
buildings, other than the parish church, which was built as a chapel to Grinton in 1840, until Melbecks parish was created in 1892. The majority of the
parishioners doubtless remained Dissenters. Nonconformity is much more in evidence in Low Row, a short walk to the west. The Wesleyan Church closed within the last few years. The Congregational Church has a preaching box dating to 1806,
remodelled in 1874.

Tucked away in the woodland below the road, are houses that reflect the growing prosperity of the area in the 18th century, for example Paradise with its knitting workshops - a rare Northern Dales example of a building type more familiar in West Yorkshire - and Gorton Lodge and Farmhouse.

For a more detailed discussion of nonconformity in the Dales see the essay titled ‘Places of Worship’ in the Themes/Religion section of the website Both Melbecks and Grinton parishes also contain important
archaeological remains'.


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