Castle Sowerby

This parish is bounded on the south by Greystoke, on the north-west by Dalston, on the west and south-west by Sebergham and part of Caldbeck, and on the east by Skelton, Braithwaite, and Middlesceugh. Its length from north to south is about six miles, and its breadth from east to west nearly two miles. It comprises for civil purposes the following townships: Bustabeck Bound, How Bound, Row Bound, Southern-by-Bound, and Stockdalewath Bound, whose united area, including roads and water, is 8,647 acres. A great part is held on copyhold tenure. The gross estimated rental is 6,409, and ratable value 5,757. Agriculture is the principal occupation of the inhabitants, who live chiefly in houses scattered over the parish. Castle Sowerby is included in Leath ward and petty sessional division; deanery of Penrith W.; union, rural and county court districts of Penrith; and the county council electoral division of Hesket.

The manor of Sowerby lies wholly within the forest of Inglewood, which, with the honour of Penrith, was given by William III. to the Duke of Portland. In 1787 it was purchased by the fifth Duke of Devonshire, and still belongs to that noble family. The manor is held directly of the Duke, to whom the tenants pay a copyhold yearly rent and a god's penny (a silver penny) on change by death or alienation, but nothing is paid on the death or change of lord. Copyhold lands upon this manor do not descend to the heir male (as that term is understood in the law of descents). "The custom here being agreeable to the common law of the land, and so females inherit as coparceners, which is unusual in a copyhold or customary manor; the general custom in this county being, in the case of females, for the eldest to take the whole." The common lands of the parish, formerly very extensive, were enclosed, divided, and enfranchised, pursuant to an Act of Parliament passed in 1766, by which Act 557 acres were allotted to the dean and chapter of Carlisle as appropriators, and 203 acres to the vicar, "in lieu and perpetual discharge of all tithes, rectorial and vicarial, within the parish, except a small modus payment of 20s. from Thistlewood." And so much of the said common was ordered to be sold as should raise 700 for enclosing and erecting proper buildings thereon. An eighth part of the remainder (being 470 acres) was assigned to the lord. Castle Sowerby lies high, and has an uneven surface, pretty well studded with hedgerows and plantations, and abounding in picturesque views. The soil in the northern part of the parish is a fertile loam, but a great part of the rest is wet, cold, and poor. Much has been done of late years to improve the quality of the land by a judicious system of draining and the use of artificial manure, and good root and grain crops are now raised. Freestone is abundant in the parish, lying in many places at a very little depth below the soil. Limestone is also plentiful, often protruding above the surface, and in many places worn into deep fissures by the action of water. "In a dry season the Caldew is almost entirely drained by these hidden gullies between Haltcliffe and Hesket bridges, and after traversing its rocky course beneath the banks at a great depth, is disgorged into the bed of the river, about three miles above Sebergham Bridge.

HOW BOUND comprises, according to the Ordnance Survey, 3,027 acres, rated at 1,581. The Parish Church is situated in this township. It is dedicated to St. Mungo or Kentigern, whose popularity in Cumberland is to be attributed to the connection which formerly existed between that county and Scotland. The church is a small ancient edifice, consisting of nave, chancel, and south aisle, standing upon a knoll of ground falling to the west and north at the extremity of the parish. The belfry contains two bells. The original building appears to have been Norman, but of the actual history of the fabric little is known. Bishop Nicolson, in his visitation in 1703 says, "The Roof of the Church (as well as that of ye Quire) is in an ill condition; but the Seats (all back'd with Wainscot) and the Church-yard Wall pretty good. On one of the North-windows there's a picture of a Military person, in a blew Mantle and long heel'd Spurs, kneeling; and below it part of a Femal face with a Crown; which last I take to relate to ye legend of St. Mongah or Kentigern (to whom the Church is Dedicated), said to be begotten on a King's Daughter by an Angel." The window has long since disappeared. Some time in the 18th century the wainscot-backed seats were replaced by high pews of deal, and the roof restored. In 1889 the church was extensively renovated at a cost of 525. Oak seats now take the place of the deal pews, and the ceiling has been replaced by an open roof. The walls have been raised about three feet. On the removal of the floor on the north side of the church, a spring was found, which is supposed by many people to be the site of the well which usually accompanied the dedication to St. Kentigern, and which was lost; the idea is doubtful as there are several springs in the neighbourhood of the church, and to each is ascribed the same history. Up to the 13th century the living was a rectory, and was evidently of some importance being held in 1294 by John de Langton, Chancellor of England; but in 1307, Edward I. granted the advowson of the church to the prior and convent of Carlisle, who thenceforth appropriated the revenues to their own use, but provided for the performance of all clerical duties. It thus became a discharged vicarage. Notwithstanding the royal grant, disputes afterwards arose about the right of presentation. In 1309, Anthony Beck, Bishop of Durham, attempted to usurp the patronage, but the Bishop of Carlisle refused to admit Beck's nominee. Half a century later we find the vicar of Sowerby complaining to the bishop, that many of his parishioners had deserted their own church and attended mass in the chapel of Sebergham, whereupon the bishop issued his mandate enforcing attendance at the parochial church. The good priest's solicitude was no doubt prompted by a diminution of his income, and it is to be hoped the episcopal missive had the desired effect. After the suppression of monastic institutions, the right of patronage was transferred to the dean and chapter of Carlisle, who still exercise the privilege. The tithes were commuted in 1768, at the time of the inclosure of the common, when 203 acres were allotted in lieu of all vicarial tithes. The living is now worth 285, and is held by the Rev. M.V. Kennedy, B.A., who was inducted in 1878.

Near the church is an eminence bearing the name of Castle Howe, from which the parish probably derives the first part of its name. The mound is a rocky mass, up which spacious roads leading to the summit have been cut, where there is a circular cavity eighteen yards in diameter, into which admission is obtained through a narrow entrance. The purpose of the cavity is shown by the iron crooks still to be seen in the sides, to which the cattle were secured in the time of the Border forays. The hill is part of one of the ten estates in the parish anciently called Red Spears, on account of their tenants holding them by the singular service of riding through Penrith on Whit-Sunday, brandishing their spears as a challenge to the enemies of their country, or those who dared to dispute the title of the lord of Inglewood forest, similar to the parade of the Champion of England. Those who held by this tenure were of the order of Red Knights, mentioned in our law books. "Debent equitare cum domino suo de manerio in manerium vel cum domini uxore." Their spears were about nine feet long, and till within the last century some of them remained in the proprietors' houses, where they were usually deposited, and were sureties to the sheriffs for the peaceable behaviour of the rest of the inhabitants. Sowerby Common anciently abounded in oak wood; on the breaking up of the land, a great number of pit-steads were found, where the wood had been reduced to charcoal; similar appearances have been discovered in Broadfield Common. The land of this township is chiefly owned by the Duke of Devonshire, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Daniel Jennings, Esq.; the Exors. of A. McDougall, Esq.; Charles Jackson, Esq., Manor House, Dalston;. W.S. Dowson, Esq.; J.H. Jackson, L.E. Glynn, John Golding, James Harrington, Thomas Hayton, John Johnson, G.B. Martindale, J.G. Stalker, William Tiffin, and other resident yeoman.

BUSTABECK is a township of scattered houses, 4 miles N.E. of Hesket Newmarket, and 8 miles S. of Carlisle. It contains about 1,732 acres, rated at 1,553, and chiefly owned by the Exors. of the late Edward Clark, W.S. Dowson, Esq., James Harrington, and Thomas Hayton. For ecclesiastical purposes this township is under Raughton Head.

ROW BOUND, otherwise called Sowerby Row, is a township in this parish comprising about 1,273 acres, rated at 595. The school receives a yearly endowment of 2 10s. out of a rent charge of 5 left by the late Mrs. Cookson, payable out of Holme House estate, to this school, and the one at Raughton Head. Of this bequest, William Scott Dowson, Esq., of Foxley Henning, is the donator. The average attendance is 33.

SOUTHERNBY BOUND lies about two miles east of Hesket Newmarket, and contains 1,101 acres, rated at 757, and owned chiefly by Daniel Jennings, Esq., Mrs. Jane Routledge, John Sanderson, and Robert Matthews.

STOCKDALEWATH BOUND comprises an area of 1,462 acres, which are assessed for rating purposes at 1,270. For ecclesiastical matters this township is in Raughton Head parish, but for secular government is comprised in the civil parish of Castle Sowerby. It contains the neat but straggling village of Stockdalewath, or as it is usually curtailed in the locality Stocklewath, and part of Raughton Head, and is distant about eight miles south of Carlisle. Near the village, upon an eminence commanding an extensive view to the westward, is a large Roman entrenchment, measuring 188 yards by 160. There are evident traces of both inner and outer vallum, within which stones and ashes have been found, but neither altar nor inscription by which the camp might be identified. It is called Castle-Steads, and within half a mile of it are two other camps, supposed to be Roman ; one of them is called White-stones, and the other Stoneraise. At the south-west end of Broadfield, within a mile of these camps, are evident traces of a Druid's Temple, where the earth has been raised up in a circular-form, with a sloping bank of 12 feet, and an area of 63 feet in diameter. There was also a large rocking stone, about 165 yards south, 23 feet 9 in. in circumference, and supposed to have been nearly a ton weight, but no remains of it are now left. The principal landowners are Thomas Young, Esq., James Errington, Mrs. A. Martindale, and George Robinson, Esq. Thackwood Nook, formerly the property and residence of the late William Blamire, Esq., is in this township. It was one of the Red Spear houses already mentioned, whose holders were the Redmans or Red Knights named in the Doomsday Book. The memory of its ancient tenure is perpetuated by the figure of a man, holding a spear, standing out from the roof above the front entrance.

BIOGRAPHY - The de Blamyrs or Blamires are an old Cumbrian family, who lived on their own land by the banks of the Cauda1 in the days of Edward I. The yeomen, to which class they belonged, were in days gone by the very backbone of English independence, but their number is now, alas, year by year diminishing through the accumulation of the land in the hands of a few large proprietors. Susanna Blamire, the daughter of William Blamire, descendant of this family, has achieved considerable fame as a poetess. She was born at Cardew Hall, in 1747, but spent the greater part of her lifetime at Thackwood. She early betrayed the rhyming faculty, and in her girlhood's days would often amuse the homestead by metrical sketches of passing incidents, or the peculiarities of some old neighbouring crone. These juvenile productions were consigned to the flames soon after they were written; nor did she, in her later years, write for the eye of any beyond the circle of the family or acquaintances. Many of her happiest pieces are written in the Cumbrian dialect, of which she seems to have been a perfect mistress; nor was she less happy in her Scotch songs, as may be seen in her "What ails this heart o' mine"? and "Ye shall walk in silk attire." Her most ambitious effort is a poem of considerable length, called a "North country village, or Stockdalewath," in which she draws a life-like picture of that hamlet as it existed a hundred years ago, in the metre, and somewhat after the style of Goldsmith's "Deserted village." The village alehouse is thus pourtrayed:-

In this gay village hangs a wondrous sign -
The 'Hounds and Hare' are the immense design.

Around the front, inviting benches wait,
Conscious of many a glass and sage debate;
The great man of the village cracks his joke,
Reads o'er the news, and whiffs the curling smoke;
Tells tales of old, and nods, and heaves the can,
Makes fixed decrees, and seems much more than man."

We are indebted to the pen of Dr. Lonsdale for rescuing from oblivion many of the poems of this talented lady, and for a most interesting sketch of her life and character in his "Worthies of Cumberland." She died at Carlisle in 1794, and was buried at the Chapel of Raughton Head. William Blamire, Esq., better known as the "Tithe Commissioner," was the son of Dr. Blamire, brother of the poetess. He was born at the Oaks on the 13th April, 1790, and died at Thackwood on the 12th January, 1862. He was High Sheriff of Cumberland in 1828, and represented the county in Parliament from May, 1831, to August, 1836. To him is chiefly due the credit of framing and carrying through Parliament "The Tithe Commutation Act," which did more to settle the disputes and quarrels between the Church and the farmers than any other piece of legislation. For his services he was appointed Chief Tithe Commissioner, and he was also on the Copyhold and Inclosure Commission. He retired again into private life in 1860, but did not live long to enjoy the repose he sought in his ancestral home. He died within two years of his retirement, and was buried at Raughton Head Church. A tablet was raised to his memory by public subscription, and placed in Carlisle Cathedral; and a Blamire Agricultural Prize was founded at the same time. The tablet thus records his merits:- "As a servant of the Crown he enjoyed the confidence of all parties in the State; and during the twenty-four years of official life he was the willing adviser of the Government on many political questions, especially those relating to agriculture. His practical sagacity and unwearied industry as a Tithe Commissioner made his public labours highly successful; whilst his abnegation of self, suavity of speech and unfailing courtesy, secured for him amongst all classes the greatest esteem and popularity." By his death the Blamires of the Oaks became extinct; and it is much to be feared, and still more to be mourned, that there are few types left of that class of men of which he was the ennobling ornament and unrivalled head.

Raughton Head is a small village of good houses, on an eminence, within the bounds of Stockdalewath and Bustabeck townships, seven miles south of Carlisle. It has been, by Act of Parliament, constituted a distinct ecclesiastical parish, the district assigned to it embracing Stockdalewath and Bustabeck townships, also Raughton and Gatesgill in Dalston parish, and containing about 6,099 acres. A chapel-of-ease was erected here at an early period, but no record of the date has been preserved. It is represented as having been a very humble structure, thatched with fern. After lying for a long time in a ruinous state, it was rebuilt in 1678 and consecrated by Bishop Rainbow. It was again rebuilt in 1760, at an expense of about 300, and in 1881, a thorough restoration was effected and a tower added, at a cost of 700. A new organ, by Messrs. Hill and Sons, London, was presented by Miss M.M. Goodwin. The living, styled a vicarage, is worth 300, and is in the gift of five trustees. It is in the incumbency of the Rev. J. Carter, B.A., who was inducted in 1878. The vicarage was erected by subscription in 1863. It occupies a pleasant situation on the banks of the Caldew, commanding a fine view of Rose Castle.

A school was erected by Mr. John Head, of Foxley Henning, in 1744, on a plot of ground adjoining the churchyard. This was displaced in 1857 by larger premises, built at a cost of 300, by Mr. George Head-Head, of Rickerby. They have since been enlarged, and the playground extended. The average attendance is 100. A library was established in 1851 in connection with the school; it is now in a flourishing condition.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


1. i.e. Caldew.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman