Aikton Parish

  > Allerdale-below-Derwent Ward, and petty sessional division, county council electoral division of Bowness, county court district, deanery, poor law union, and rural district of Wigton.

This parish extends about five miles in length from north to south, and two miles in breadth from east to west; and is bounded on the north by Bowness, on the south by Thursby, on the east by Orton and Kirkbampton, and on the west by the river Wampool. It comprises the townships of Aikton, Biglands and Gamblesby, Wampool and Wiggonby, whose united area is about 5,569 acres. The soil varies from a strong clay to a mixture of loam and gravel, but in the north-west parts, where the lands are low and level, it is marshy. The population at the last census was about 789.

Aikton township contains 1,641 acres which, with the buildings, are valued for rating purposes at 2,611.

The Manor is comprised within the barony of Burgh, and was anciently the property of the Morvilles, of whom Johan de Morville, daughter and co-heir of Hugh de Morville, said by our county historians to have been one of the assassins of Thomas Beckett, had her residence here. It subsequently passed through females to the Colvilles, then to the Radcliffes, and was afterwards sold by Sir John Savage, Knight, to Thomas, Lord Dacre, who re-united it to the ancient barony of Burgh, from which it was divided by the partition of Sir Hugh Morville's daughter, in the time of King John. It is now the property of the Earl of Lonsdale. The present landowners are Sir Musgrave H. Brisco, Bart; Messrs Barnes, Mrs. Pontifix, Rev. Canon G. E. Hasell, M.A. (glebe); Wm. Hodgson, John Tiffen, John R. Lawson, John L. Irving, etc.

The village of Aikton is pleasantly situated on a gentle acclivity, four miles N. by W. of Wigton, and nine miles W. by S. of Carlisle. Its name is a corruption of Oak town. In the village is an inn conducted on temperance principles, and bearing the appropriate name of The Stingless Cup. It has been established by the parish to afford travellers and others visiting the village all the accommodation of an hotel without its poisonous liquors. There is also a reading room and a library.

The school is supported by voluntary contributions, and has an average attendance of about 40. Miss H. Higgins, mistress.

The Church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is an ancient structure, but it has undergone so many alterations, necessitated by the ravages of time, that it is now difficult to determine the original style of its architecture. The chancel arch is Norman, of the probable date of 1100. The columns and arches in the nave are of the Early English style. The chapel at the south-east, thought to have belonged to the Morvilles, contains a fine piscina. About a century ago it was enlarged by the addition of a south aisle in the Perpendicular style, and in 1869 the church was again restored at a cost of over 400. In ancient times, after the partition of the manor into moieties, the owners of each claimed the right of presentation, and their claims were sometimes in conflict. "In 1340 Thomas de Multon, lord of Gilsland, presented William Somerset to one moiety, whereupon an inquisition de jure patronatus was held, and Richard de Ayketon protested that there was no vacancy, for that he himself was sole rector." This dual right of presentation led to frequent litigation in the ecclesiastical courts, which only end when the manor was again united to the barony of Burgh. The living is valued in the King's Book at 14 13s. 2d.; it is now worth 590, and is in the gift of the Earl of Lonsdale, and the incumbency of the Rev. G.E. Hasell, M.A. The tithes were commuted in 1833 for a yearly rent-charge of 493 12s. 10d., of which 5 12s. 1d. belong to certain landowners, and the remainder, together with 95 acres 21 poles now let for 130 a year, belongs to-the rector.

Aikton Hall, where yet may be seen vestiges of the moat by which it was protected in former times, now serves as a parsonage. A Mission Room, capable of accommodating 300, was built in 1891.

BIGLANDS AND GAMBLESBY form a united township containing 820 acres, the ratable value of which is 895. The manor was anciently held under the barony of Burgh by one William Brewer, to whom it was granted by one of the lords of that barony. It was subsequently divided by female issue into moieties, one of which, after changing hands three or four times by sale or exchange, was sold to the tenants. The other, after a long line of descent, passed by purchase to Lord Dacre, by whom it was again re-united to the barony, and now belongs to the Earl of Lonsdale. The principal landowners are Mr. Jonathan Strong, the Misses Lindow, Mrs. Dixon, Isaac Taylor, John S. Gate, and Peter Harrison. The hamlet of Biglands is situated on the banks of the Wampool, three and a half miles north of Wigton, and Gamblesby, also on the Wampool, about three miles north of the same town. It is said to have taken its name from one Gamel, who fixed his residence here when the whole district was a woody waste. Drumleaning consists of two farm houses about one mile south of Aikton.

WAMPOOL township takes its name from the river, and was anciently written Wathampole. It comprises about 846 acres. with a ratable value of 894. The manor was formerly held by the Bruns, who subsequently adopted the local name. It afterwards came to the Warwicks, and was by them sold to the tenants. The landowners are the Trustees of Mrs. Garsia, Gate & Richardson, Daniel Barnes, J.W. Hodgson, Fisher & Wilson, Messrs. Adair, Dixon, & Studholme, and Mrs. A. Bird. The hamlet of Wampool is two and a half miles W.N.W of Aikton, and Whitrigg Lees three and a half miles N.W. of the same village. Leathes is a small manor, which was held by a family of that name from the Norman Conquest till the reign of Elizabeth, when Adam de Leathes sold it to the inhabitants. The hamlet of Leathes is three and a half miles N.W. of Aikton.

WIGGONBY. - This township comprises an area of 2,161 acres, which are assessed at 2,446. It is included in the manor of Aikton, of which the capital mansion or manorial residence was situated at Downhall in this division. Its site may still be traced on a moated platform, some sixty yards square; and when the present buildings were erected in 1826, a portion of the old drawbridge was found. It has borne its present name, Downhall, ever since the odd mansion was burnt by the Scots in one of their raids into Cumberland. The landowners are Sir M.H. Brisco, Messrs. Lindow, John Jennings, Esq., Trustees of Wiggonby School, Mrs. Pearson, Mrs. Ismay, Messrs. John Twentyman, John Brown, John & Geo. Porter, John Ritson, R.W. Lowrey, etc. Thornby is another small hamlet in this township, one and a half miles S.E. of Aikton. Thomby villa is the residence of John Jennings, Esq., J.P.

Wiggonby Endowed School owes its foundation to the liberality of Margaret Hodgson, who, in 1792, assigned 140 acres of land and certain premises, the rents thereof to be applied in building a school and the maintenance of a schoolmaster, who should instruct, free of charge, all persons of the name of Hodgson without limitation of time or locality; also all the children of the parish between the ages of eight and twenty-one, whose parents did not possess a real-estate exceeding 20 a year; and the children of parents within the parishes of Beaumont and Burgh-by-Sands, whose property did not exceed 12 per annum. The yearly income of the trust is about 225. The present school was erected in 1860, and is a large and convenient building. Various improvements have been made during the last few years. Stables are provided for the use of pupils who have to ride a distance. An additional cloak-room has also been added. In 1879 the original institutions of the school were modified by a scheme issued by the
Charity Commissioners.  A charge is now made for schooling which varies according to the circumstances of the parents. 20 is set apart out of the funds for prizes and Easter clothing; 20 is also expended yearly in free scholarships to be held in the school; and 40 for exhibitions not exceeding 20 a year each, to be held in some college or school of higher education. The average attendance is about 100.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901




Tradition has it that Sir Hugh de Morvill achieved his notoriety as one of the assassins of St. Thomas Becket. (Who will rid me of this turbulent priest ? - attributed to Henry II). The forward to a Victorian reprint of Denton's manuscript (see Denton's entry in the Worthies of Cumberland) cites this as a typical example of sloppy history perpetuated by a succession of authors, and maintains that it was Sir Hugh's grandson involved in the murder.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman