Many centuries ago, what is now Main Street in Ravenglass would have comprised small farms and crofts on the inland side, each with a strip of land at the back running all the way up to the road which now runs from the campsite to the Roman Bath House and site of the Roman fort. This lane is now known as Walls Drive as it leads to the Roman “walls” but originally was called Crofthead Lane as this would have been the limit of the land belonging to all the houses clustered along that side of the main street in Ravenglass.
Now of course that land is crossed by two railways which pushed across the rear of the village in more recent centuries, plus the 1960s housing estate behind the main street which significantly expanded the village. However, previously each house on that side of the street would have been lived in by “crofters” or families with small farms. The houses on the other side of the street had no land behind them, so these folk were most probably fishermen… and/or smugglers!
While our sister property now called the Inn At Ravenglass was a croft in its former life, it isn't clear whether or how long ago the Pennington Hotel was originally a farm but it was certainly a coaching inn back in the 16th Century. Despite its long history, it was left in ruin for a number of years after it closed as the Pennington Arms Hotel until the Pennington family and owners of nearby Muncaster Castle brought it back to life with a very major refurbishment together with a healthy dose of contemporary design in the early part of the 21st century. The hotel has encompassed some adjacent buildings over its lifetime so is rather larger than it would have been originally.
If you look at the beautifully curved shape of the main street in Ravenglass beyond the Pennington to the sea gate at the far end, you can see it is narrow at both ends with a big space in the middle. This was so that markets could be held more easily, with cattle, sheep and horses etc enclosed within this market space with gates closed off at each end. The village retains this mediaeval shape today, although mostly it corrals parked cars rather than stock!
Of course, many of Ravenglass's residents in bygone times would have had more than one job as well as tending their family farm or fishing boats. Many would have worked at the Castle or wider Muncaster Estate and some would have run pubs, inns and small hotels.
At the far end of the street where it narrows down at the sea gate, you will see the Bay Horse on one side, today a lovely little B&B, and what was The Ship public house on the other, now being restored as a private home after many years in a state of dereliction. You can still see the space over the door which would have held the pub sign. And of course the Pennington is at the narrow other end of what would have been the market place.
Today, having two inns at the far end of what is effectively a cul-de-sac ending at the beach doesn't make much sense but in medieval times Ravenglass's Main Street was the main thoroughfare North-South as folk travelled up and down the coast by crossing the wide fords in the river estuaries; easier than toiling over the steep hills inland.
Today the Pennington is still at the heart of the village, on the main street close to the seaside and a few steps from its much younger neighbours the heritage narrow gauge steam Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway as well as the Cumbrian Coast main line station and continues its long tradition of serving refreshment to both working and leisure visitors to the area and providing a comfortable home-from-home to relax for the night. We hope you enjoy your visit to us.