Woodrow Wilson’s connection to Carlisle is well known. Janet Woodrow, the mother of the 28th President of the United States, was born in Carlisle and emigrated to America.

Wilson visited the Border City twice, the second time in 1918, while President. He called this trip a “pilgrimage of the heart”.

Less celebrated is Carlisle’s link to another US President.

Zachary Taylor, the country’s twelfth leader, served from March 1849 until his death in July the following year.

He was descended from James Taylor, who emigrated from Carlisle in 1658.

These facts give a flavour of A-Z of Carlisle: a blend of travel guide and history book which celebrates the city in alphabetical order.

It includes things you may have known about Carlisle, fleshed out with fascinating detail.

And there is plenty to educate even those who are very familiar with the city.

The book was written by local history author Andrew Graham Stables.

Andrew is from Barnard Castle and now lives in York.

He did not know Carlisle well before researching his latest book, and says he was pleasantly surprised by what the city had to offer.

“There’s more to it than people might realise,” he says.

“The historic centre is very attractive. One thing I was surprised at is how beautiful the cathedral is. I turned up at teatime when it was just starting to get dusky. It was beautifully lit. Not all cathedrals are that striking.”

Andrew’s interest in Cumbrian history was sparked by Billy Connolly’s 2011 TV series about the USA’s famous highway Route 66.

“That gave me the idea of exploring the A66 [which crosses England between Middlesbrough and Workington] and writing about it.

“I started to research all those areas and found a lot of information.”

Some of this was used in one of Andrew’s previous books, Secret Penrith, which was published in 2016.

His Carlisle book is part of Gloucestershire-based Amberley Publishing’s A-Z series.

Some letters are used for more than one thing. ‘C’ has entries for Carlisle’s castle and its cathedral.

‘E’ covers the Eden, Caldew and Petteril rivers.

“I had to be creative and think of something for each letter of the alphabet. I cheated a little bit for ‘X’ - I did the Market Cross.”

‘S’ covers the State Management Scheme, under which the government took control of Carlisle’s pubs during World War Two in a bid to stop munitions workers from Gretna binge-drinking in the city.

“I think I first heard about the State Management Scheme when I went to The Sportsman for a drink.

“A little old lady was drinking red wine. She told me about it and I researched it.

“I like to ask the people I bump into ‘What would you like to see in the book?’

“I got a lot of help from the Tourist Information Centre. And the lady at Tullie House was very helpful.

“She kept shouting letters at me: ‘Don’t forget about Margery Jackson - she could be ‘M’ or ‘J’!’”

Ms Jackson, known as the Carlisle miser, is included under ‘M’.

Other notable characters featured in the book include Andrew Harclay, who became Sherriff of Cumberland and Earl of Carlisle. As warden of Carlisle Castle, in 1315 he helped to repel the siege by Robert Bruce’s Scottish army.

Andrew writes: ‘Edward granted Carlisle a royal charter in 1316 - the charter has an initial letter which depicts Andrew throwing a spear at a Scottish soldier.’

“I tried not to have a whole lot of dates: the stuff that some people find boring,” he says. “I’m trying to write it as stories. There are little slabs of history.”

It’s sometimes said that Carlisle could do more to sell itself as a tourist destination; that it could be in the same league as York, Chester and Durham.

“I think it has that sort of potential,” says Andrew.

“You’ve got so much depth of history, like York. Even pre-history, Roman, Norman.

“I think the area between Newcastle and Carlisle is beautiful, following the wall. More should be done about the wall in Carlisle. The footprint is there. You’ve got to attract all those walkers.”

Edited extracts from A-Z of Carlisle


Botchergate was previously called ‘Botchardgate’, named from a southern gate called ‘Porta Botchardi’, which may have been named after a native of Flanders called Botchard.

The area was originally outside the city walls, but over the years grew to serve travellers who were locked out of the city after dark under the orders of Elizabeth I. The street still seems to have this feel, as it contains numerous bars, hotels and eateries.

Most of the expansion on Botchergate occurred during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - maps from the era show a strip lining the road for only a few metres but steadily expands once the railway comes to town in the mid-1800s.

Dixon’s Chimney

When Peter Dixon and Sons Ltd built the Shaddon Mill in 1836, at the time it was the largest in the country and the chimney, at 305 feet high, was the tallest in the country and the eight tallest in the world.

This huge seven-storey factory was so large it could not have been powered by water and so steam power was used from the beginning.

The chimney was damaged by lightning in 1931 and it was necessary to take off the top few feet in 1950 for safety reasons.

Now standing at around 290 feet tall but still a popular and familiar landmark in Carlisle, Dixon’s chimney is a reminder of its textile history.

It was so popular as a local landmark that when in need of repair in 1999, it was restored by Carlisle City Council.

Margery Jackson

It was at Christmas 1811 when she became unwell; her voice no longer screeched, she took no brandy and only survived on milk and slops (a kind of milky oatmeal).

She died on 6 February 1812, at the ripe old age of ninety. She left property and money to the amount of around £50,000, including her iron chest full of gold and silver.

Margery Jackson was buried in her grandparents’ grave in the grounds of Carlisle Cathedral. Hundreds attended her funeral out of curiosity, to get a last glimpse of the ‘Miser of Carlisle’.