Extends along the coast, and is bounded on the north and south by the parishes of Waberthwaite and Whitbeck, and on the east by Corney and Thwaites. It gives its name to a ward, petty sessional and electoral divisions, and poor law union; it is in the deanery of Gosforth; and county court district of Whitehaven. The soil is generally fertile, and in a high state of cultivation. Eskmeals, lying along the coast, is remarkable for its large rabbit warren. This name is descriptive of the physical features to which it applies, meol signifying hillocks of sand. Meal is also from the same root. In Selkers Bay, it is said, in calm weather, may be seen the sunken remains of small vessels or galleys, which, according to tradition, were left here by the imperial legionaries of Rome in one of their invasions. The parish comprises an area of 5,742 acres, which are assessed for county purposes at 6,746. The population in 1891 was 783. Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people. The Furness and Whitehaven Railway passes through the parish, and has stations at Bootle, Ravenglass, and Eskmeals. The manor of Bootle is much more extensive than the parish, and contains part of the parish of Whitbeck. Bootle is an ancient market town, whose charter dates as far back as 1347; but the market has now been obsolete for many years. A fair is, however, still held on April 26th for the sale of cattle. The old market cross has been replaced by a new one in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The principal landowners are Lord Lonsdale, lord of the manor; Richard Grice, Esq.; E.W. Wakefield, the Misses Falcon, etc.

The Church, dedicated to St. Michael, is an ancient structure; but the extensive alterations it has undergone at various times have entirely obliterated its original appearance. It was extensively repaired in 1837, and again in 1891, and is now a handsome building of stone, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts, and pinnacled tower containing two bells. The only portion of the edifice which bears any trace of the style employed when first erected is the chancel, which still retains its characteristics of Norman architecture; elsewhere it has been made to assume the more ornate Early English. The old font is still preserved. It is octagonal in form, having on each face two shields, with the following inscription in Old English characters:- "In Nomine Patris et Fillii et Spiritus, Sancti;" and the initials, "R.B." A monumental brass on the south side of the chancel bears the effigy of Sir Hugh Askew, who, the inscription tells us, was knighted at Musselborough, and died in 1562. The church is rich in stained-glass windows, beautiful alike in design and execution. One on the north side of the chancel has lately been inserted as a memorial to the late rector, the Rev. S.W. Watson, by the parishioners. The foundation of Bootle Church, if not coeval with the Norman Conquest, took place at an early date after that event. Godard de Boyville, styled in ancient documents Godardus Dapifer, or Godard the Sewer, second lord of Millom, conferred this benefice upon the Abbey of St. Mary, York, to which church he also gave "all the parishes between Millom and the Esk." After the dissolution of religious houses, the patronage appears to have been exercised by the Penningtons, lords of Muncaster. From them it was purchased by E.W. Wakefield, Esq., of Kendal, who afterwards disposed of it to Lord Lonsdale, in which family it still remains. The living was valued in the King's Book at 19 17s 3d., and to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty it was certified at 70 2s. 2d. The tithes were commuted in 1849 for 439. The benefice is now worth 300, in addition to which there are 13 acres of land and a parsonage.

The Independent Chapel was built in 1780, by Mr. Joseph Whitridge, a native of the parish, for the use of members of the Lady Huntingdon's Connexion; and he further munificently endowed it with 1,000, invested in trustees, who have since placed it in the hands of the Independents.

The old Grammar School at Hycemoor, founded and endowed by Henry Singleton in 1713, for the free education of children, was rebuilt in 1847 by the Furness and Whitehaven Co., who acquired the site; and another school was erected by Captain Shaw, R.N., and endowed with 300.

CHARITIES. - Henry Singleton, by will, dated 29th January, 1713, bequeathed the sum of 200, the interest whereof was to be applied to the maintenance of a schoolmaster, who should teach in the schoolhouse then erected at Hycemoor. Ann Hodgson left by will, in 1779, the sum of 50 for the benefit of the same school. The Rev. Henry Holmes, a former-rector of Bootle, also left 50 to the school. The Rev. Richard Hutton, B.D., who died in 1704, also left 50 for the education of the poor. Henry Parker, in 1873, left 100 for the benefit of the Hycemoor school, and 100 for Captain Shaw's school. Thomas Grice, who died in 1892, left 1,000 to be equally divided between the two schools. Mrs. Ann Hodgson and the Rev. M. Wennington left, the former 10 and the latter 20, the interest thereof to be distributed among poor householders on St. Thomas's day.

Bootle Poor Law Union is divided into two sub-districts, viz:- Bootle district and Muncaster district, comprising together an area of 91,304 acres, and containing the following parishes and townships:- Birker and Austhwaite, Bootle, Corney, Drigg, Eskdale and Wasdale, Irton, Millom, Muncaster, Ulpha, Waberthwaite, Whicham, Whitbeck.

The Workhouse for the Union is situated between Bootle and the railway station. Previous to its erection, there were two small houses, one at Bootle capable of receiving about 30 inmates, and another at Millom, with accommodation for 40. The present workhouse is a good substantial stone building, erected in 1856-7, at a cost of 2,250, and capable of containing 100 inmates.

SEATON NUNNERY - At Seaton, in this parish, are the remains of an ancient convent, formerly known as the "Nunnery of Leakley in Seaton." There are now but few fragments left, but they include a fine specimen of an Early English window -

"A mighty window, hollow in the centre,
Shorn of its glass of thousand colourings,
Through which the deepened glories once could enter,
Streaming from off the sun like seraphs' wings,
Now yawns all desolate."

The convent appears to have belonged to a community of nuns, professing the Benedictine rule; but the date of its erection and the name of its pious founder are alike lost in the mist of ages. The Normans were munificent benefactors of "Holy Mother Church," as the magnificent abbey ruins and cathedral churches which still adorn our country testify; and to them we must ascribe its foundation. We know it was in existence anterior to the commencement of the 13th century, as a deed still extant records the grant of some lands in Seaton to the convent and nuns by Henry Fitz Arthur; and in 1227 the church of Irton was appropriated to this nunnery. Henry, Duke of Lancaster, afterwards King Henry IV, pitying the poverty of the good sisters, granted to them the hospital of St. Leonard, in Lancaster, and its revenues, with power to nominate the chaplain. In 1549, Thomas York, abbot of Holme Cultram, leased to Elizabeth Croft, prioress of Seaton, all the lands between the rivers Esk and Duddon, for twelve years, at a rent of 20s. per annum. These lands appear to have been granted to the abbey of Holme Cultram by Gunhilda, daughter of Henry de Boisville, fourth lord of Millom. At the dissolution the revenues of this nunnery were valued at 12 12s. 6d. In the following year (1542) Henry VIII granted the site to Sir Hugh Askew, Knight. to be held of the King in capite, by the service of one-twentieth part of one knight's fee and a yearly rent of 9s. 2d. Sir Hugh settled it upon his wife, who carried it in marriage to her second husband, one of the Penningtons of Muncaster. It was afterwards sold by Lord Muncaster to the Wakefields of Kendal.

Eskmeals, at the northern extremity of the parish, is the seat and property of the Misses Falcon. Its name is derived from the Mesogothic malma, sand, and was bestowed upon it to denote the presence of numerous sandhills. There are on this estate the remains of an entrenchment, in which Roman altars and coins have been found, and which is said to have been "one of the smaller stations constructed for the defence of the coast in that remote corner."

The Oddfellows have a lodge here, and hold their meetings at Captain Shaw's school. The Horticultural Society's annual show is held in the Rectory ground on August 23rd.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman