This is the name of an extensive ecclesiastical parish, comprising Blencogo, Bromfield, Dundraw and Kelsick, and Langrigg and Mealrigg. These, together with Allonby and West Newton, were formerly townships, but in accordance with the Local Government Act of 1894, they have been constituted independent civil parishes. The soil of the district is varied , but fertile, and the pasturage rich. A considerable number of the people are engaged in agriculture. An Act for the enclosure of the commons was obtained in 1812.
Formerly a township in the parish of Bromfield, is now a civil parish, containing about 3,027 acres, which are assessed at £5,679. For ecclesiastical purposes, it is still included in the ancient parish. It is comprised within Allerdale-below-Derwent ward and petty sessional division, westward [sic] county council electoral division; and the deanery, rural district, poor law union, and county court district of Wigton. The Manor was granted by the first lord of Allerdale to Melbeth, his physician, whose posterity took the name of De Bromfield, or Brunfield; but the patronage of the church was reserved and granted to the abbey of St. Mary, York, which also possessed some lands there, as also did the abbey of Holme Cultram; to the latter of which the whole manor was afterwards granted by Adam, son of Thomas de Brunfield. Henry, another son, granted to the same monks two acres of land lying within one of their inclosures for one mark of silver, representing in present money 13s. 4d,, and about the same time we find Walter, son of Benedict, the priest, granting quit-claim to the monks of all his right and claim of common of pasture in the marsh included in the grant of Adam de Brunfield to the said monks. A further grant of five acres of arable land and one acre of meadow was made by Agnes, daughter of William White, the carpenter, who must evidently have been a man of consequence. The monks held tenaciously to any rights or privileges once conceded to them, and not without a struggle would they allow any infringement of their claims. In 1291, a controversy took place between the prior and Hugh de Brunfield as to common of pasture upon the aforesaid marsh. The dispute was arranged by prescribing limits of time and place at which each party should depasture his cattle, without hindrance from the other. After the dissolution of the monasteries, William Hutton, in the 35th of Henry VIII, held Bromfield of the king, in capite, rendering for the same 18s. 4d. cornage, 10d. seawake, 6d. fee-rent, puture of the sergeants and witnessman.
It was again granted, with the rectory and church, by Edward VI, to Henry Thompson, by way of exchange for a hospital at Dover, commonly call Maison Dieu, of which he had surrendered to Henry VIII all his right a interest therein. The manor and demesne subsequently passed by sale to the Osmotherleys, and afterwards to the Barwises, and in 1876 they were sold by the Rev. William Barwise to J. Bowerbank, Esq., who is now lord of the manor. The land is chiefly freehold, of which the following are the principal owners :- Mrs. M. B. Dykes, Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Mrs. S. Langcake, John Todd, John Reay, William Parkin-Moore, Esq., J.P., and Robert Swag.
The village of Bromfield is situated about 5½ miles W. by S. of Wigton. Various etymologies of the name have been advanced. The one most commonly accepted ascribes the name to the presence of the broom plant, Broom field, which the modern spelling seems to sanction; and Brown field, from the older form of the name, finds favour with some persons.*
The Church, like many others in the north, is dedicated to St. Kentigern or Mungo,# "whose name, however, is now only heard of as perpetuated by a spring of pure water close by the church, which is still called Mungo's Well. It is said to have been rebuilt about the year 1392, when John de Culwen was compelled to repair the chancel, which had then been in a ruinous state. The benefice is a vicarage in the patronage of the Bishop of Carlisle, and incumbency of the Rev. Richard Taylor, M.A. It is valued in the King's Book at £22, and is now worth £260. The great tithes of the parish, except those of Blencogo, are merged in the land, part of them having been purchased by the proprietor about 130 years ago, and the remainder exonerated at the enclosure of the commons. The rectorial tithes of Blencogo belong to the vicar, and were commuted about sixty years ago for a rent charge of £139 per annum. Annexed to the chancel are two ancient chapels or burial places, supposed to have been formerly used as chantries, where masses were said for the souls of those interred within them. One of these originally belonged to the Joliffes, of Newton Hall, and the Middletons, of Mealrigg; but it is now owned by Mr. Hodgson, of Burgh-by-Sands. The other, having been the property of the Ballantynes, of Crookdake Hall, has descended to the Dykes family. In 1861 the church underwent a thorough restoration, at a cost of £1,046, and in 1878 a new organ was added. Eight stained glass windows have since been inserted, and the building further embellished at a cost of £1,000, by the late Joseph Nelson, of Moor Row. In the church is the fragment of an ancient cross, which has been removed from the churchyard within the last few years. The wanton destruction of these monuments of antiquity, even though they should be the emblems of redemption, cannot be too much deplored, for in them we have often the very perfection of art, and they serve as models for the most beautiful crosses erected in later times. A singular stone was discovered by the present vicar in June, 1882, having thereon a Calvery Cross and a barbed arrow. It is supposed to be a memorial. On a slab in the church are the following lines, to the memory of the Rev. Richard Garth, who died in 1673. He was one of the clergymen ejected by Cromwell.
"Bromfield's Pastor here's entombed,
THE SCHOOL was founded by Richard Osmotherley, a mercer of London, but a native of this parish. In 1612, he bequeathed £10 a year, to be paid by the Merchant Tailors' Company out of his estate in St. Botolph's parish, Aldersgate, London, to the clergyman and churchwardens of Bromfield, in trust, for the education of fifteen poor children belonging to Bromfield and Langrigg, viz.: nine from the former and six from the latter township. One of the Thomlinson family afterwards gave £100 to this school, for the benefit of the whole parish (which now participates in the former bequest also), and about the year 1757, it was expended in the purchase of two fields, which now produce about £20 per annum. The Education Act of 1870 has very considerably modified the original constitutions of the founder, and the school is now a public elementary one, in conformity with the provisions of that Act. The school was restored in 1861, and again in 1898, and is now under the charge of Mr. G.H. Armstrong, and, has an average attendance of about 72.
Crookdake is a scattered hamlet, 5½ miles W.S.W. of Wigton. The manorial rights of the land belong to the Dykes family, and those of the pasture and common to Lord Leconfield. Crookdake Hall, now a farmhouse, bears marks of great antiquity, and was long the seat of a branch of the Musgrave family, whose daughter and heiress carried the manor, in marriage, to the Ballantynes, a family of note in Scotland, one of whom, under the latinised name "Bellandenus," was the author of a learned treatise entitled "De Stata." An heiress of the last of this family married Lawson Dykes, Esq., who, in 1773, assumed the surname and arms of the Ballantynes in connection with his own. In Bromfield Church is an ancient monument to "Adam of Crookdake," a celebrated warrior, who resided at this hall. His memory is perpetuated in the following couplet, cut in Old English letters:
"Here lieth entomb'd, I dare
Both the language and the orthography betoken a more recent date than 1304; perhaps it may be a modernised form of a more ancient inscription. The slab bearing the above couplet is in one of the small chantry chapels attached to Bromfield Church, and known as the Lady Chapel, from its dedication. It was rebuilt by the late F.L.B. Dykes, Esq., of Dovenby Hall, in 1861, when the old memorials were replaced.
Scales, another hamlet of dispersed houses (called High and Low Scales) in this township, on the west side of Crummock Beck, 1 mile S. of Bromfield, and 4½ miles W. by S. of Wigton, is the property of G. Reay, Esq. Tradition says that the lands of Gill were granted to one of his ancestors by William the Lion, King of Scotland, in the 12th century, "not only as a reward for his fidelity to his prince, but as a memorial of his extraordinary swiftness of foot in pursuing the deer, outstripping in fleetness most of the horses and dogs," whence they appear to have been surnamed Reay, from the Anglo-Saxon Word rah or raeh, signifying a roe or roebuck; and, in confirmation of this, we have the family crest, a stag, With the motto, "In omnia promptus " (Prompt in everything.) The conditions of the grant were that he should pay a peppercorn yearly, and that the name of William should, if possible, be perpetuated in the family. From the foregoing, it appears that the Gill estate has belonged invariably to the Reays, as long, perhaps, as any other estate in the kingdom has to one family. These conditions were duly observed until about three generations ago, when, after eminent legal advice, the eldest son was named John.
There have been several eminent men of this name, most of whom are said to have migrated from this parish. (For Blencogo and Dundraw and Kelsick see Mid Parliamentary Division.)
*An esteemed correspondent has suggested Bruin or Brawn, the hog. Bruin field would thus carry us back to the days when the wild hog roamed the fields and moors of Cumberland.
# Munghu, or Mungo, in the ancient Pictish language, signified one dearly beloved. He is said to have been of Royal blood among the Picts, and was Bishop of Glashu, or Glasgow. Having devoted his whole life to the duties of his mission, in the propagation of the gospel, he died in 610, aged 85 years.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman