Carleton is a rural suburb in an area of Penrith, Cumbria, England, that has seen very growth in housing since the 1960s. It was formerly a separate small village or hamlet one mile east of the centre of Penrith.
The name 'Carleton' originates from Old English 'ceorl' or 'carle', 'charle', meaning 'farmer' or 'free peasant' and 'tūn' a 'vill' or 'settlement'; its meaning therefore is "settlement of the farmers". The name Carleton, Carlton or Charlton is quite common in England, the nearest other example being the village of Carleton on the outskirts of Carlisle. Two more in Cumbria are one close to Egremont and another possible one near Cockermouth. All are located near to what were feudal estate centres. It has been suggested that these settlements pre-dated the Norman conquest, but this has been challenged and some, at least, may be Norman in nature.
Carleton Village itself is a small line of houses along one side of the A686 road that forms part of the boundary of the town's built up area; at the junction of the A686 and Carleton Road (formerly the A66 road) and a lane leading down to Frenchfield is the Cross Keys Inn (which was for a short time in the early 21st century known as the Carleton Inn and was closed between 2004 and 2008).
On the other side of the A686 road and to the east of Carleton Road is the large High Carleton housing estate which was started in the 1960s and is still growing. (Previous to this estate being built, the area was an old army camp which after World War II was inhabited by dispossessed Polish nationals as well as people on the housing waiting lists for the area). The estate is subdivided into the Frenchfield Way/Frenchfield Gardens area, the original High Carleton area, Carleton Park or Parklands, Carleton Meadows and Carleton Heights. Most of the streets in this area are named after trees or other plants e.g.: Oak Road, Sycamore Drive, Juniper Way. A small stream runs through the estate. Oak Road connects Carleton with the neighbouring estates of Meadow Croft and Scaws. At the junction of Oak Road and Ash Road is a nursery school.
Carleton Hall is the headquarters of the Cumbria Constabulary, but once was the home of the Carleton family, the last of whom died in the eighteenth century and during the first half of the twentieth century it was the home of the Carleton-Cowper family. The northern part of Carleton Hall's grounds are now divided between the Pategill housing estate and the Penrith Rugby Club. The manor of Carleton was held as a sub-manor of the larger manor or Honour of Penrith.
In years gone by Carleton was a prosperous hamlet, boasting Sir Thomas Carleton as a notable celebrity. The Cross Keys Pub was a stopping off point for travellers on both the Appleby road through to Stainmore (A66) and the A686 Alston road. Carleton at one stage had a Reading Room in the centre of the village and records show that the community here had annual harvest festivals and church services (possibly held in the Reading Room) or a makeshift wooden chapel (location unidentified) served by the Parish Church of St. Andrew, Penrith. In more recent times, prior to the development of High Carleton, the well-known Penrith greengrocery shop, Kerrs, used the land lying in present-day Frenchfield Way as its greenhouse produce fields. In those days the red sandstone walls on either side of Carleton Road leading uphill to the present day Oak Road junction were higher.
Apart from the Cross Keys the only other present day business in Carleton Village is Carleton Hall Farm. Today, the Carleton Hall Farm Shop provides both locally grown produce from the fields lying around the hamlet and other local produce from Lakeland farms and bakeries. Opened in 2000, it now has a vibrant trade serving both local residents of Penrith and district as well as attracting people who are visitors to the area.
At Frenchfield just south of Carleton Village towards Brougham Castle is the Hunter Hall private preparatory school, Eden District Council-owned sports pitches and the new stadium for Penrith F.C.
Carleton Hill Road links Carleton Village and the A686 with Beacon Edge, a road which begins off Salkeld Road in the Fair Hill area of Penrith and ends at the junction with the A686 at Barbary Plains, opposite Whins Pond near Edenhall to the east of Carleton.
To the west of High Carleton is Winters Park where Penrith Rugby Union Football Club has its ground and the Carleton Hall Gardens estate.
The 19th-century novelist, Frances Milton Trollope, mother of Anthony Trollope, lived briefly in a house called Carleton Hill just outside the village. She had the house built in 1840, but found the local climate too cold and sold the residence in 1843.