The bridge over the River Lowther
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Askham is a village and civil parish in the Eden District of Cumbria, England. It is in the historic county of Westmorland. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 360, decreasing slightly to 356 at the 2011 Census. It is situated in the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park, about 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Penrith. Nearby are the remains of Lowther Castle, the site of the annual Lowther Show, a three-day event of country pursuits.
The primary landmark of Askham is Askam Hall, it evolved from a peel tower in the 14th Century and was passed to the Sandford family after the Helbecks and Swinburns. In 1575, Thomas Sandford had it enlarged. In 1828 it served as a rectory before being passed to the Lowther family in the 1830s - the 7th Earl of Lonsdale used the hall as his residence following the closure of Lowther Castle in 1937. Askam Hall became a grade I listed building in 1968. After 2012, the Countess of Lonsdale converted it into a hotel.
The manor was 'anciently' referred to as Ascum.
Many public houses, such as the 'Punch Bowl', have old beams with splits in them where coins are forced 'for luck'. This practice may be linked to examples, called 'Wish Trees', often Hawthorns which are traditionally linked with fertility, as in 'May Blossom'. The trunk and branches in these cases are covered with hundreds of coins which have been driven through the bark and into the wood. The local traditions are that a wish will be granted for each of the coins so treated (Rodger 2006).
Another local custom is the throwing of coins from the bridge onto a boulder that lies below the water level. Getting the coin to stay on the rock gives the thrower 'good luck'. These are examples of 'Touch Pieces'. Obvious connections exist with water generally and the practice of throwing in coins to seek 'favours' of the water spirits.
Media related to Askham, Cumbria at Wikimedia Commons