Is a small parish of 2,667 acres, in the county council electoral division of Derwent Fells; the ward and petty sessional division of Derwent; the deanery and county court district of Cockermouth and Workington; and the poor law union, and rural district of Cockermouth. The civil and ecclesiastical parishes are not co-extensive; the latter covers an area of 7,200 acres. The parish returns are as follows:- Gross estimated rental, £1,423; ratable value of land, £383; ratable value of buildings, etc., £836; and population, 100. The district embraces some of the wildest and grandest scenery in the county; the beautiful vale and lake of Buttermere, the lofty cascade called Sour Milk Gill, and some of the most abrupt and rocky precipices, and the most rugged and desolate looking mountains. The greater portion of the land is devoted to sheep pasture, and in attending the flocks which range the hills the people find their employment; a few, however, work in the slate quarries of Honister Crag, which forms the south bank of the narrow vale of Gatescarthdale. Speaking of Buttermere, De Quincy says: "The margin of the lake, which is overhung by some of the loftiest and steepest of the Cumbrian mountains, exhibits on either side few traces of human neighbourhood; the level area, where the hills recede enough to allow of any, is of a wild, pastoral character, or almost savage. The waters of the lake are deep and sullen, and the barrier mountains, by excluding the sun for much of his daily course, strengthen the gloomy impressions. At the foot of this lake lie a few unornamental fields, through which rolls a little brook, connecting it with the larger lake of Crummock, and at the edge of this miniature domain, upon the roadside, stands a cluster of cottages, so small and few that in the richer tracts of the island they would scarcely be complimented with the name of hamlet." The vale of Buttermere, which extends many miles below the lake, is a wide variegated scene full of rising and falling grounds; woody in many parts, well inhabited in some, fruitful and luxuriant in all.
The village of Buttermere is situated in a
secluded dell near the foot of the lake, distant about ten miles S.W. of Keswick and
S.S.E. of Cockermouth. It is much frequented during the summer months by tourists and
visitors, but its reputation rests not solely on the beauty of its lake and mountains, but
also on its connection with Mary, the Beauty of Buttermere.
The little Church of Buttermere is a very plain structure, erected in 1840, upon the site of an older one, by the Rev. Vaughan Thomas, at a cost of £300. A small chancel was added in 1886, and a stained-glass window inserted in the east end, in memory of Mrs. Attler, the wife of a former vicar. The district assigned to the church covers an area of 7,200 acres. Two or three years ago the building was completely over-hauled and a new choir erected. The old chapel was perhaps the most diminutive in all England, being incapable of receiving more than half a dozen families within its walls. The curacy was "certified at £1, paid by contributions of the inhabitants;" and it was also stated that "this chapel and Wythop were served by readers, except that the curate of Lorton officiated there three or four times a year." The tithes of Buttermere have been commuted for a yearly rent-charge of £30. The benefice is now worth £82, and is in the gift of the Earl of Lonsdale.
The parish is not without educational facilities. A school was erected here about 35 years ago. It has accommodation for 25, and an average attendance of 14.
The manor, including the lake, is held by Lord Leconfield, as part of the manor of Derwent Fells.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
30 July 2006
© Steve Bulman