Above Derwent


Is the name of an extensive civil parish, having a total area of 14,749 acres, and containing the townships of Thornthwaite, Braithwaite, Portinscale, and Newlands. It is comprised within Derwent ward; Keswick petty sessional division and county count district; Cockermouth poor-law union and rural district; and the county council electoral division of Derwent Fells. The gross estimated rental of the parish is 10,315, the ratable value of the land 3,376, and the value of the buildings, etc., 5,435. The population in 1891 numbered 1,061. There still remain in Above Derwent many of that independent class of men, the yeomanry, who were in times gone by the stout defenders of English liberty. In other parts of the country they are fast being absorbed into the immense estates of the Landocracy, but long may they flourish in Cumberland.

THORNTHWAITE - This township, including Braithwaite, covers an area of about 6,000 acres, and has a population of 501. The manor of Thornthwaite, as a portion of the Derwentwater estate, now belongs to Reginald Dykes Marshall, Esq., whose father purchased the forfeited states of the Earl of Derwentwater from Greenwich Hospital. There were formerly a bobbin mill, a woollen factory, and and a saw mill in active operation, but the two former are now closed, and the saw mill gives employment to one man only. The lead mine was reopened in 1894 by Mr. T. Crewdson, of Kendal, who has greatly improved it, and now realises a very satisfactory output of lead and zinc ore. The lead contains about 10 per cent. of silver. There are about 80 persons employed at the mine. The village of Thornthwaite is situated on the Cockermouth New Road, 3 miles W.N.W. of Keswick, and at the east side of the head of Bassenthwaite Lake.

The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain cruciform building, with small bell turret, standing near the head of Bassenthwaite Lake. There are several stained-glass windows; the east and west represent the Nativity and the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord. A new organ has lately been placed in the church at a cost of 150. The district assigned to the church includes Braithwaite, and contains about 6,000 acres, with a population of 521, in the rural deanery of Keswick. The living, worth 125, was augmented when Braithwaite was added to the district in 1841 with the sum of 2,000, given by James Stanger, Esq., and Captain Henry (1,000 each), and the patronage conferred on the vicars of Crosthwaite and St. John's, Keswick. The late bishop obtained a grant of 800 from two societies, towards providing a residence, which was purchased in 1845, and the residue invested in the 3 per cent. stock.

Charity. - Peter Udall, in 1653, left a rent charge of 4 10s. 4d, upon land in Essex, for the poor of Thornthwaite, Great and Little Braithwaite, Ullock, and Portinscale. The provisions of the will were not carried out for twenty-two years, and with the accumulated fund the trustees purchased Low-field in Portinscale, which lets for 12 15s. 0d. per annum, thus increasing the amount of the charity to 17 5s. 4d.

BRAITHWAITE along with Thornthwaite form a township known as Braithwaite-cum-Thornthwaite. The manor of Braithwaite, with Coledale forms a parcel of the manor of Derwent Fells, and is now held by Lord Leconfield. From a survey taken in 1578, it appears that Anthony Barwis held the town of Thornthwaite by homage fealtie and suit of court. Previous to the dissolution of monasteries, the Abbot and Convent of Furness held Borrowdale in perpetual alms; and a portion of it appears to have been held by the Abbot and Convent of Fountains1, on the same conditions. Among others who held lands or tenements in the township at the time of the survey, were William Bow, John Bow, and John Bow de Swineshead, Robert Mason, William Studdart, Thomas Mason, John Mason, Richard Tickel, and Thomas Woods. Two of these names only are now found in Braithwaite and Thornthwaite, Bowe and Tickel, the others have disappeared, either by extinction, or emigration.

The village of Braithwaite is situated at the lower end of Winlatter2, 2 miles W. by N. of Keswick. Here is a neat school, erected in 1842, at a cost of 500, of which 200 was given by John Crosthwaite, Esq., of Liverpool, but a native of Braithwaite; and the remainder by James Stanger, Esq., of Laithwaite. The pencil works, which for 30 years were the centre of industry, were burnt down in 1898. The proprietors, however, have recently commenced business in Keswick as the Cumberland Pencil Co. Little Braithwaite, and Porter How, are two hamlets in this township, the latter of which is 4 miles N.W. of Keswick.

PORTINSCALE or COLEDALE. - This township formerly claimed the honor of a distinct manor, by name Coledale, but it has now long been included in the manor of Derwent Fells. Both copper and lead are found here, but the latter only in quantities sufficient for remunerative working. In sinking a shaft at the depth of 54 fathoms, a salt spring was tapped, which has since continued to flow. The pretty village of Portinscale in situated at the foot of Derwentwater, 1 miles N.W. of Keswick, and in its vicinity are several pleasant villa residences. Fawe Park, the residence of Mr. Fox, is fitted up in the early English style, with a profusion of carved oak. Derwent Bank and Hawse End are two fine mansions. There is a good hotel in the village. The Tower Hotel has been converted into a college for young gentlemen. Ullock, Swineside, Stair, Skelgill, and The How, are small hamlets in the township. The numerous heights which lie around command good views of the lakes of Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, and all the sylvan and fertile country from Swineside to Skiddaw.

NEWLANDS. - This township is parcel of the manor of Derwent Fells, and has descended through the Earls of Egremont to Lord Leconfield. The other principal landowners are J.S. Harker, the Misses Gate, Mrs. Thompson, Joseph Tickell, and Joseph Wren. In years gone by large quantities of lead were obtained in the township. The Goldscope Copper Mine yielded abundance of that metal as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, from which a quantity of gold was obtained, thus giving a name to the mine. This also became unproductive and has long ceased working.

The ecclesiastical district covers an area of 1,160 acres, and has a population of 108. It was constituted a separate parish in 1868, and is comprised within the rural deanery of Keswick.

The Church was rebuilt in 1843, at a cost of about 180; of which 70 was raised by subscriptions, 32 by collections amongst the inhabitants of the chapelry, 10 was given by the late Queen Dowager, and the remainder contributed by the incumbent. It is a plain but neat building with Norman windows, a small porch, and a bell turret carrying two bells. In 1845 a stained east window was added by the inhabitants as a testimony of respect to the pastor, and to commemorate the rebuilding of the little chapel. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the Vicar of Crosthwaite, worth 150 a year. Of this 110 is obtained from the rent of land purchased in 1757, with 600, a donation from Queen Anne's Bounty; and 40 from a sum of 1,500 invested in consols, the gift of an unknown benefactor; and the parishioners. In 1886 a new vicarage was built, at a cost of 1,004. Attached to the church is a small school, attended by about 20 children.

CHARITY. - Mr. Joseph Fisher, in 1856, gave 100, the interest of which was to be expended in the purchase of books published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In 1858 he gave a further sum of 150, out of the interest (which now amounts to 7), 10s. was to be given to the vicar for preaching a sermon on Whit-Thursday, and the remainder to be added to the school fund for the education of the children.

The chapelry contains the hamlet of Little Town, about 4 miles S.W. of Keswick, and a few dispersed dwellings. The vale of Newlands, though inferior to Borrowdale in scenic effect, possesses many patches of great beauty, and the majority of tourists prefer this route from Buttermere to Keswick.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901




1. Near Ripon, in Yorkshire.
2. Now usually Whinlatter.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman