This parish is about four miles in length from north to south; and two and a half miles from east to west. It is surrounded by Lamplugh, Dean, Distington, Moresby, Cleator, Weddicar, and Kinniside. The total area of the parish is about 5,556 acres, with a ratable value of £29,000, comprised in the three townships of Arlecdon, Frizington, and Whillimoor. The inhabitants, who numbered in 1891 5,697, are chiefly engaged in agriculture and mining. In the beginning of the century there were only 350 persons residing within the parish. Arlecdon is situated in Allerdale-above-Derwent ward, and petty sessional division; the poor law union, and rural deanery of Whitehaven; the county court district of Whitehaven and Millom; and is the head of a county council electoral division. According to the Local Government Board Act of 1894 the urban district is co-extensive with the ecclesiastical parish, and elects nine members. The greater part of the land is held by customary tenure under the Earl of Lonsdale and the le Flemings of Rydal Hall, Westmorland. A grant of land was made many years ago to the church in lieu of tithes, and, consequently, the parish is now free from that impost.

ARLECDON - The area and ratable value of this township are included in the parish returns. The villages of Arlecdon, New Asby, and Rowrah, are the only centres of population; the rest live in scattered houses throughout the township. The soil is of a varied character, but generally fertile. The manor of Arlecdon is included in the Fee of Beckermet, which is itself a Fee of the lordship of Egremont. After the subjugation of the Cumbrian kingdom by William the Conqueror, in 1072, he conferred the district upon his faithful friend and follower, William de Meschines, and that nobleman granted Arlecdon, together with Frizington, Rotington, Weddicar, and other places, to Michael le Fleming, knight, a kinsman of Baldwin, Earl of Flanders, and brother-in-law of the Conqueror. From this Sir Michael are descended the Flemings of Rydal, in which family it still remains. The Earl of Lonsdale is lord of the common, which is freehold, as is also a great part of the ancient lands, the manorial rights of which are exercised by their respective owners.

The village of Arlecdon is situated on the main road from Cockermouth to Keswick, ten miles distant from the former, and six miles from the latter place. It consists of two long roads with rows of dwelling houses in the shape of a wide letter V. Cattle fairs are held here on April 24th, the first Friday in June, and September 17th.

The present Church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a small edifice, with few pretentions to architectural beauty. It was erected in 1829, at a cost of £798 6s. 4d., the whole of which, excepting £100 given by the Bishop of Chester, was raised by subscription among the parishioners. A church occupied the spot at an early period of our history, probably anterior to the Norman Conquest. Previous to the thirteenth century the benefice was a rectory; but in the year 1241, John le Fleming, grandson of the original grantee, gave this church to the monks of Calder; but in 1262, in consequence of so many churches being conferred upon the religious orders, the Archdeacon of Richmond made complaint of the diminution of his patronage, and the consequent loss of a portion of his revenue. As a compensation the Archbishop of York, Godfred Ludham, appropriated Arlecdon to the Archdeaconry. The living is styled a vicarage, and was in the gift of the Bishops of Chester, as appropriators and patrons, until 1856, when, on the demise of Dr. Percy, the authority of the Bishop of Chester ceased in Cumberland, and his rights and privileges in that county were transferred to the Bishop of Carlisle, who is now patron. The living is not mentioned in the Liber Regis of Henry VIII; but at a later period it was certified to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty as of the clear annual value of £10. About the year 1764 the Dowager Countess Gower gave £600 towards the augmentation of the living, and in 1810 a grant of £200 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was made. The living is now worth £300, and is held by the Rev. E.H. Sugden, M.A., who was inducted in 1891. At the time of the inclosure of the commons in the townships of Arlecdon and Whillimoor, in 1820, 390 acres of land were given to the church in lieu of the tithes of those townships. The tithes of the remaining township were commuted in 1846 for £84, the whole of which is payable to the Bishop of Carlisle. A beautiful stained glass window, on which is depicted Our Lord's Ascension, was erected in 1881 to the memory of Isaac Fletcher, Esq., of Frizington, by his widow. The churchyard was also enlarged the same year, the cost of which was defrayed by voluntary contributions.

A fine suite of schools was erected by the Board in 1878. They consist of two departments - mixed and infants - and have accommodation for over 400 children. The premises were enlarged in 1889, and again in 1899. The Sunday school was built in 1878.

The Liberal Reading Room established in 1891, is attended by about 40 members, who pay 1s. 6d. quarterly. The library contains 200 volumes.

ROWRAH village is situated about half a mile from Arlecdon, and consists of one long row of houses and the hamlet of Rowrah Hall. There is a station here on the Brigham and Sellafield branch of the L. and N.W. and Furness Joint railway. A handsome Wesleyan Chapel was erected in the village in 1895. It affords sitting accommodation for 300.

The Rowrah Hall Limestone Quarry has been worked since 1888, and is owned by Thomas Dixon, Esq., of Rheda. About 24 men are employed, and the output averages 130 tons of stone per day.

Rowrah Lead Quarry (see Lamplugh parish). The Reading Room was established in 1896; the members, who number about 40, subscribe 2d. weekly.

The village of Asby occupies an elevated position about half-way between Rowrah and Wright Green, being one mile distant from either place. Most of the inhabitants are engaged in mining. The coalpit of the Asby Colliery Co., Ltd., is near the village. It has a depth of 25 fathoms to the Bannock Band, and 42 fathoms to the Yard Band. The output averages about 60 tons daily, and the number of hands employed 40. About a mile from Asby is the pit belonging to the Moorside Colliery Co., which was opened in 1893, and employs 40 persons. There are two drifts in operation, which yield about 50 tons per day. The small chapel belonging to the Primitive Methodists was erected in 1875.

At Kidburngill was born in 1799, Mr. William Dickinson, an accomplished writer on agriculture. His essays on the "Agriculture of East and West Cumberland " carried off the prizes offered by the Agricultural Society. Geology and botany were two of his favourite studies, and in acknowledgment of his extensive acquaintance with these subjects, the Linnean Society conferred upon him the degree of F.L.S. His splendid collection of geological specimens, the labour of many years, he presented to the Workington Mechanics' Institute.

FRIZINGTON, HIGH AND LOW - The area and ratable value of this township are included in that of the parish. The character of the soil varies in different parts, but is generally fertile, and abounds in freestone, iron, and coal. The population in 1891 was about 4,000.

The manor of Frizington, like the adjoining one of Arlecdon, is a fee of Beckermet, and was held in early feudal times by a family of the same name. This family patronymic became extinct in the reign of Henry IV by the death of the last heir male, who left three daughters, co-heiresses, by whom it was sold to John Leigh, in whose family it remained until its purchase by Anthony Patrickson. By a subsequent sale it passed to the Williamsons, who disposed of it, excepting the parks, to Sir James Lowther, ancestor of the Earl of Lonsdale, the present owner. The parks, which had been excepted in the previous conveyances, were sold by a grandson of Anthony Patrickson to the Fletchers, of Hutton and Cockermouth, from whom they were purchased by the Lamplughs. In 1805, an Act of Parliament was obtained by which powers were granted for the enclosure of the common lands of the parish.

The iron ore industry has deteriorated somewhat of late years, causing many of the inhabitants to seek "fresh fields and pastures new." The mines are worked by the following proprietors:- The Cleator Iron Ore Co., Lonsdale Mining Co., Dalmellington Iron Mining Co., Parkside Mining Co., Messrs. Fletcher Bros., and Sir James Bain and Co. This ore, known as hæmatite, yields about 55 per cent. of metal. It occurs in considerable deposits in some parts of the township, occupying a large superficial area; at Parkside, the deposit attains a thickness of 70 feet, extending over about 60 acres.

The Cleator Iron Ore Co., have two pits near Yeathouse Station, viz. - the "Margaret" pit, sunk in 1891, and the "Agnes," in 1893. The royalty was taken over in 1889. About 250 men are employed, and the amount of ore extracted averages 50,000 tons annually.

The Lonsdale Mining Co., have one pit, from which a fair amount of metal is raised, and employ 75 men. The Yeathouse Limestone Quarry gives employment to 30 hands, and yields 130 tons daily; proprietor, Mr. J. Yates.

The village of Frizington consists practically of one long street about 1½ miles in length, occupying an elevated position, about five miles east of Whitehaven. It is quite a modern creation, and owes its rise to the mining operations carried on in the immediate neighbourhood, which give employment to so many of the inhabitants.

St. Paul's Church is a neat stone building erected to meet the spiritual wants of the thriving village.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church. From 1875 to 1890 the Catholic body in Frizington had to make use of a small school chapel for the exercise of their religious duties. In the latter year a handsome new church was opened, dedicated to St. Joseph. The present clergyman is the Rev. Thomas Ambrose Bamford, O.S.B.

The Wesleyan Methodists have also a chapel in Main Street, dating back about fourteen years. The chapel of the Primitive Methodists was erected in 1894, on a site adjoining the old one, which had become too small. The cost reached about £600. The educational wants of the district are well supplied by Board, Church of England, and Catholic Schools. The Arlecdon and Weddicar School Board have fine schools at the north end of the town. Since the erection in 1878 considerable enlargement has taken place, and the accommodation raised to 376 in the mixed department, and to 150 in the infants.

St. Paul's National School, supported by voluntary contributions. Average attendance: mixed, 170; infants, 50.

The Urban District Council have erected a substantial Council Chamber at the north end of the town. It was completed in 1898, at a cost of £1,500, and is fitted up with all requisite offices and rooms, and fire station on land adjoining. The Free Library occupies one portion of the chamber. It is in possession of 2,600 volumes. The town is lighted by oil, but it is proposed to substitute gas in the near future. The Water Supply is obtained from Cogra Moss, about six miles distant, at an elevation of 744 feet above sea level. The holding capacity of the reservoir is about 90,000,000 gallons, and the daily supply 16,000 gallons.

The Frizington Working Men's Reading and Recreation Room, erected in 1862, at a cost of £600, is entirely self supporting. The members, of whom there are about 180, subscribe 4s. each annually. The library attached contains about 300 volumes.

St. Joseph's Reading and Recreation Room, opened in 1893, has a membership of 80, who each pay 1s. quarterly. The Liberal and Conservative Associations also have rooms in the town.

In Main Street are situated the headquarters of the 3rd Vol. Batt. Border Regiment. Frizington is in railway communication with Whitehaven by a branch line of the L. & N.W. and Furness Joint Co's. The station is at Parkside.

At a place called Crosslacon, in this township, are the remains of an ancient cross of rude workmanship, about 3½ feet high. Tradition tells us that in the olden time it was customary to read a portion of the burial service here over the corpse on its way to interment at St. Bees, and an indentation on the top of the cross is said to have been made to support the book during the reading of the prayers. On the Cringlehall estate is a chalybeate spring, said to possess medicinal properties.

WHILLIMOOR - This township was formerly, as the name implies, moor or open common. The houses are mostly farms, scattered over the district. The land is generally sterile, and is still in many places covered with heath or ling. The manorial rights and privileges belong to the Earl of Lonsdale, who is also an extensive landowner. When the commons of this and Arlecdon townships were divided, in 1820, there were 200 acres allotted to the Bishop of Chester, as rector of the parish, in lieu of the tithes for Whillimoor, and 190 acres for Arlecdon. These were transferred to the Bishop of Carlisle when this portion of Cumberland was detached from the Chester diocese and given to Carlisle. The population is about 50. At one time this place obtained considerable celebrity for cheese made from skimmed milk. Hence the origin of the saying, still heard in West Cumberland, "Brown Geordie and Whillimoor wang," viz., barley cake and Whillimoor cheese.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901



19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman