This parish occupies a tongue of land, stretching westward into the Solway Firth, between the rivers Wampool and Eden, in Cumberland ward, and the petty sessional division of that name; Wigton union, county court, and rural districts, and deanery of Carlisle N.  Bowness forms the basis of a division for the election of a member of the county council. It is nearly seven miles in length from east to west, and three miles in breadth from north to south, and contains about 11,176 acres, including a large tract of waste and the enclosed common in Anthorn. It is bounded on the north by the Solway, on the west by the Solway and the Wampool, on the south by the Wampool and Aikton parish, and on the east by Aikton, Kirkbampton, and Burgh-by-Sands. It is divided into four townships, viz.:- Anthorn, Bowness, Drumburgh, and Fingland, and contains a population of 1,322.

A large tract of low flat land, forming an extensive moss of several hundred acres, was drained a few years ago and converted into good farm land. It is known as Bowness Flow, and is situate near the Wampool, extending into the townships of Bowness and Anthorn. The work of reclamation was commenced in 1845, and many miles of drain had to be cut to a depth of 14 to 16 feet, to reach the bottom of the morass.

The name of this parish is descriptive of its shape, the bow-shaped ness. The old form of the word was Bulness, and Camden tells us, it was so-called in his time, from Anglo-Saxon baelg, a swelling, and ness, a nose of land, thus signifying the bulging or rounded peninsula.

BOWNESS. - This township contains 2,602 statute acres of ratable land, of which the gross estimated rental is £2,985; the assessment value of land, £1,374; and of buildings, £1,198. The soil varies from a good reddish clay or marl to a light gravelly soil, resting on blue clay. A large portion of the flat moss land spoken of above is in this township, and now forms part of the farm of "Rogersceugh," in the occupation of John Harrison Little. A former tenant, by name John Sibson, in 1878 tried the experiment of training a yoke of oxen to plough and cart on the soft moss land. It proved eminently successful. Less time was required to train them thoroughly to the work than is given to horses, and they worked more steadily on the soft land. They were also not inferior to a team of horses in their speed, as was shown by competition in ploughing matches. He worked them four seasons, and then feeding them, sold them for £40 each. A company has recently been formed, and machinery and plant are now being erected for the purpose of converting the peat moss into compressed fuel.

The Manor of Bowness, which is co-extensive with the parish, was, at an early period, parcel of the barony of Burgh, one of whose barons granted it to Gamel le Brun, or Broyne, as the name is sometimes written. The Bruns had their chief residence in Drumburgh, where their name descended from father to son, till the latter part of the 14th century. From the proximity of their castle to the wastes of the Solway, the family was sometimes called De la Feritate. Our knowledge of their history is very scanty. Saving a few fragmentary notices, no records of the De Bruns have come down to us. In 1307, in the first year of Edward II, Richard le Brun felt the insecurity of his position on the debatable ground of the two countries, and petitioned the king for a license to crenellate "his house at Drumburgh in marchia Scotiæ." The last of the name and family was Richard le Brun, whose three co-heiresses married into the families of Curwen, Harrington, and Bowett. The manor appears after this to have been united to the barony of Burgh, and has descended to the Earl of Lonsdale. The principal landowners, in addition to the lord of the manor, are the Messrs. Lindow, of Ingwell, and Ehen Hall, Cleator; the Rector of Bowness, J.L. Irving; Robert Lawson, S. & J. Robinson, Anthony Robinson, R.W. Wills, Christopher Topping, and Captain P.J. Irving, Port Carlisle.

The Village of Bowness is pleasantly situated on a rocky promontory, overlooking the Solway Firth, 10 miles N. by W. of Wigton and 14 miles W. by N. of Carlisle. This is the lowest point of the estuary which is fordable at low water, and was formerly much used as a short cut to Scotland, guides conducting visitors across. Tradition says a battle once took place on the sands between the English and the Scotch; and as the waters rose, the combatants carried on the mêlee further inland. Posterity has not been favoured with the result of the encounter, but it is not improbable that the breechless Scots had the advantage of the situation. Bowness is much visited in the summer for the facilities its extensive sands offer for sea bathing.

The construction of the Solway Junction Railway has placed the village in railway communication with the rest of the county. This line, which was opened out for traffic in 1869, forms a junction with the Maryport and Carlisle Railway at Brayton. At Bowness it crossed the estuary of the Solway upon an iron girder viaduct, one mile 176 yards in length, thus placing the Cumbrian coast in railway communication with the opposite shore of Scotland. In February, 1881, an unusually large quantity of ice was brought into the Solway from the Eden and other rivers, and the force exerted by the floating masses proved too great for the piles on which the girders rested. Two breaches were made in the viaduct, one 310 yards long and the other 90 yards. The work of restoration was commenced in 1882, and on the first May, 1884, the viaduct was re-opened for public traffic. Like its predecessor, the present bridge was re-constructed from the plans of Messrs. Brunlees & McKerrow, and consists of 192 spans, each one being 30 feet wide. The stability of the structure has been greatly increased by the use of wrought-iron piles filled with cement. The total estimated cost was £25,000.

The Church, dedicated to St. Michael, is an ancient structure, in the patronage of the Earl of Lonsdale. The materials for the erection are said to have been brought from the Roman Wall and station close by. It consists of a chancel, nave, north transept, tower, containing two bells, and south porch, and was restored in 1891 at a cost of £2,500, raised by subscription. The east window is a memorial, presented by Thos. Geo. Wilson, formerly of Thistlewood, in memory of his parents. The font, of Norman work, was dug up in a garden adjoining the church in 1848. There were formerly two bells, called the Grêt Bells, which were supposed to have been stolen during one of the border forays. We have no record of the foundation of the church; but the list of rectors can be traced back for nearly 600 years. Though much changed in its aspect by frequent restorations, there are still visible traces of its early Norman style of architecture. The living is valued in the King's Book at £21 13s. 11d. The tithes were commuted in 1838 for £326 5s. 6d.; there are besides 100 acres of glebe, and an estate on West Common, containing 263 acres of cultivated and uncultivated land, which lets for £100; the net income is at present £290. The living is a rectory, now held by the Rev. Samuel Lindow, M.A.

The old rectory house, of which some of the walls were upwards of six feet thick, was taken down in 1860 and the present one erected.

The Wesleyan Home Mission Chapel in the village was built in 1872 by William Topping, who began life as a stonemason, but afterwards held an appointment in the excise which he abandoned, and became a local preacher.

The Educational interests of the parish are provided for by the School Board, which was formed in 1875. Two good schools were erected in that year at a cost of £2,031, which was borrowed on the security of the rates from the Public Works Loan Board, and is to be repaid in 50 years. The old parish school was discontinued after the erection of these new ones, and its endowments were transferred to the board for the benefit of the Bowness school.

CHARITIES. - Thomas Pattinson, by will dated 1785, left the whole of his personal estate, after the payment of a few legacies, to be applied in the education of the poor. To the school at Easton, in Drumburgh Quarter, the interest of £160 for that purpose; and the interest of £20 more for supplying fires. The interest of £100 to the schools at Bowness, Anthorn, and Whitrigge, in equal shares; and the interest of £20 for teaching the children of Bowness psalm singing. The interest of £100 for the education of poor children in the parish of Burgh-on-Sands; £100 to Orton; £50 to the parishes of Beaumont, Kirkandrews-on-Eden, and Grinsdale; another £50 to Harraby, Carlton, and Brisco, and £10 to Blackhall school.

TROUTBECK'S CHARITY. - Robert Troutbeck, by will in 1706, left £50 to the poor of Bowness, the interest thereof to be distributed yearly by a Troutbeck, or the minister and churchwardens for the time being. This sum was invested in land, and produces £12 annually.

PORT CARLISLE, formerly called Fisher's Cross, is a quiet little village of recent origin, and now chiefly noted as a summer resort for a few visitors. If a stranger, pinning his faith upon its name of Port, anticipates bustling scenes of commercial activity, he will be woefully disappointed. Its harbour, constructed by Lord Lonsdale in 1819, and to whom most of the property around belongs, was intended to become the Port of the City of Carlisle. A canal was cut between the two places in 1823, but this gave place in 1854 to a railway, which now occupies the site of the canal except in one or two spots, where the curve was too sharp. The unsuitableness of the situation for a harbour was soon apparent; the entrance and basin were continually silting up, and only by the adoption of a most extensive and expensive system of dredging could the harbour be kept open. In 1857 large docks were, therefore, commenced at Silloth, and a second attempt made to establish a port on the Solway.

The great barrier, which the Romans built across the country from the mouth of the Tyne to the Solway Firth, passed through this township, and between Port Carlisle and Bowness its site may be traced the whole way by a slightly elevated ridge. In one place a piece of the veritable wall itself, a few feet high, may be discerned, and in others the foundations of the vallum and fosse may be detected. The wall is generally supposed to have terminated at Bowness, though there were not wanting, in Camden's time, appearances of its continuation beyond the highwater mark; and old people still point out the spot where it is said to have entered the sea. On the site now occupied by the village, the Romans had a camp or station, for the protection of the western extremity of the barrier. "With difficulty the antiquary may see some slight traces of the walls of the station, its southern lines near the church being those which are most apparent. No quarry being within several miles of the spot, the wall and station have furnished the materials of which the church and most of the habitations of the town are composed." Built into the wall of a barn, facing the principal street, may be seen a small altar slab, bearing the following inscription :-

I. O. M.
Jovi optime maximo
pro salute
Dominorum nostrorum Galli
et Volusiani
Augustorum Sulpicius
tribunus co-
hortis posuit.

The import of this is, that the altar was dedicated to Jupiter, the best and greatest, by Sulpicius the second, tribune of the cohort for the safety of our lords, the emperors Gallus and Volusian.

There is some uncertainty as to the name by which this station was known to the Romans. Camden, from a resemblance of sound in the names, says it was the Blatum Bulgium of that people; but Horsley, Hutchinson, and others affirm that it was the Tunnocellum of the Romans, and that it was the eighteenth station on the Wall, being occupied, according to the Notitia, by the Cohors prima Ælia Classica. A short distance from the village is a mound, resembling an ancient British barrow, known as Knock Cross, that is Hill Cross. From a proverb still current in the district, - "As old as Knock's Cross," - we may infer that the christian emblem was placed there at a very early period, probably by the first missionaries.

At Brackenrigg are the remains of a border reeve's brick oven.

ANTHORN township contains 2,475 statute acres of ratable land, of which the estimated gross rental is £1,627, the assessment value of the land, £1,161, and of the buildings £292. The soil is chiefly of a gravelly nature, but there is also a large tract of moss land. A plot of 410 acres, is called "Ancient land," the rest was inclosed in 1826. The township forms part of the manor of Bowness, and in addition to the Earl of Lonsdale, lord paramount, the following are also landowners :- The Trustees of R.K. Whitehead, Esq.; Mr. John Backhouse, Anthorn; Henry Dugdale, Esq.; Thistlewood, Messrs. Lindow, the Executors of William Donald, John H. Topping, Joseph Topping, the Rector of Bowness, and John Farlam.

The village of Anthorn is situated on the north bank of the estuary of the Wampool, about 4½ miles S.W. of Bowness. There is a small Congregational chapel here, with minister's house attached, erected by subscription in 1869. It has sitting accommodation for 120. The School Board have a school in the village built in 1875, with an average attendance of 50 (mixed). This school shares in the Pattinson endowment (see Bowness [above]), the interest of which, £1 5s. 8d., a year is used in prizes for scripture. The Cross, locally called the Broken Cross, of very ancient date, stands at the west end of Anthorn. In 1825, when excavations were being made for the construction of new roads close to, several human skeletons were unearthed.

Cardurnock is another village in this township, four miles W.S.W. of Bowness, on the verge of a tongue of land which terminates the parish, and described in a note in Hutchinson's History of Cumberland as "almost environed by the sea and morasses," and so dangerous from the shifting sands, that "no traveller or even inhabitant can pass with certainty at all times."

Longcroft is a small village about three miles S. by W. of Bowness.

DRUMBURGH township comprises 2,241 acres of land, subject to the payment of rates, the estimated gross rental of which is £3,158, the ratable value, £1,804; and the assessed value of the buildings, £1,014.

The principal landowners are the Earl of Lonsdale (lord paramount), R.I. Nixon Lawson, Esq., London; the Rev. C.T. Watson, Christopher Topping, the Rev. H.S. Watson, J. and W. Maxwell and Sons, Ann Pattinson, William Moore, Messrs. Bowman and Graham, Miss Barnes, Carlisle, and the Trustees of James Irving. Though insignificant and unimportant in the nineteenth century, Drumburgh was a place of consequence in the early days of the Christian era. Here the Romans erected one of the forts or camps which protected the Great Wall: and though no vestiges of the fortifications are now to be seen, yet the site may still be traced by the mounds or debris at the back of the village. The fort occupied about three-fourths of an acre, but was not attached to the Wall, as was usually the case. No portion of Hadrian's rampart now remains within the
township, the stones having been removed for building purposes, but a slight ridge may be traced through the fields to Port Carlisle, indicating the spot where the wall stood. Whilst excavating for the foundations of a house in 1859, the workmen came to the undercourses of the Wall, and used the stones in the building. Roman millstones and inscribed altars have been found, but not one inscription whereby we may verify the name of the station. At the Lowther Castle Inn is preserved the stone of a quern or hand mill. It was found about twenty years ago, and is supposed to be Roman work. It is semiglobular in form, with a hole counter-sunk on the convex side for the reception of the handle. Its weight is about 28 lbs.

Near to Kirkland House a Roman well was discovered some years ago. It is about eight feet in circumference, and its interior is lined with stone. At Aikshaw, upon Bowness Flow, a pair of Roman sandals was found by a turf cutter, four feet below the surface. Their preservation for such a length of time may probably be attributed to preservative qualities of the peat. They are now in the William Browne Museum at Liverpool. Numerous other relics of Roman occupation have been unearthed from time to time, but they are not of sufficient interest to merit special notice.

Of Drumburgh in Saxon times nothing is known; at a later period the lords of Bowness had their manorial residence here. The Castle, now a farmstead, is a good specimen of the ancient manor house, The interior has a very antique appearance; its spacious rooms, wide open fireplaces, oaken beams and thick walls, remind us of the time when the mansions of the gentry, in these northern parts, were liable to a siege by their enemies over the border. The Castle appears to have been rebuilt by Thomas, Lord Dacre (who died in 1525), out of materials taken from the Roman Wall, and his arms with the Garter are still to be seen over the doorway. The demense of Drumburgh was purchased in 1678 by John Aglionby, Esq., from Henry, Duke of Norfolk; and some years after he conveyed it to Sir John Lowther, in exchange for Nunnery.

The village of Drumburgh occupies a pleasant situation, on an eminence, 3½ miles S.E. of Bowness, at the junction of Port Carlisle and Carlisle, and the Silloth and Carlisle railways. The Bowness School Board have a school near the village; rebuilt in 1859, with an average attendance of 57. This school also participates in Pattinson's charity (see Bowness [above]), £5 of the interest being devoted to fees, and £1 18s. 6d. to prizes for religious knowledge. There is also a Mission room in which services are held on Sundays. About a mile from the village are the Drumburgh Chemical Works, erected in 1856, and extended in 1881 by the addition of a tar distillery. Sulphuric and other acids, sulphate of ammonia and tar products are manufactured here. Worn ten to twenty men are constantly employed.

Walker House, formerly the property and residence of a family of that name, is now tenanted by a farmer. An old oak chair, with the initials and date, I.W. 1696, carved upon it, has been preserved as a memento of the first owners of the house. Many of the houses of the township are built of clay, and are known as "mud dabbins." This primitive method of building was in use within the memory of persons still living.

Easton is another hamlet in this township, on or near the site of the Roman Wall, and about 4½ miles E. by S. of Bowness. Altars and inscribed stones have been found. Glasson is also on the site of the Wall, and many of the houses are built of stones taken from that structure.

In the museum at Carlisle may be seen a sandstone building stone, measuring 8 by 11 inches, found here in the eighteenth century. It is inscribed thus:- legionis ii Aug(ustae) coh (ors) iii, (the third cohort of Legis ii Augusta) erected this stone while building or rebuilding here. When making the excavations for the canal, the workmen came upon the remains of a buried forest. The trees lay some feet below high water mark. What a change must have taken place in the relative height of the land and water since the thrush carolled in the leafy shade, or the red squirrel sported among the branches of this primeval forest! "Although the precise period when the forest fell is not ascertainable, there is a positive proof that it must have been long prior to the building of the Wall, because the foundations of the Wall passed obliquely over it, and lay three or four feet above the level of the trees." Many of the trunks were so sound that they were used in the construction of the jetties at the entrance of the canal. Remains of this great ancient forest may be seen at low water around St. Bees, in Walney Island, and in several places on the Lancashire coast.

FINGLAND township contains 1,829 acres of land, the gross rental of which is £2,172, ratable value of land £1,505, and of buildings £432. The principal land owners are Messrs. Lindow, the Rev. C.T. Watson, William Nixon, Esq., Boustead Hill; Jeremiah Gate, Longnewton; Richard Hodgson, Burgh; John Backhouse, Anthorn; Mrs. Robinson, Hull; Edward Story, Millrigg; Mrs. Reed; Messrs. Wills, Bowness; James Dowell, Wigton; Captain Osborn; and the Earl of Lonsdale. The village of Fingland is five miles S.S.E. of Bowness, and 10 miles W. of Carlisle; the school was restored and re-opened in March, 1895; it has an average attendance of 39; £1 5s. 8d. a year is received from Pattinson's Charity (see Bowness). On the north bank of the Wampool is the scattered village of Whitrigg, three miles S. by E. of Bowness.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman