Corney

Bootle ward, petty sessional division and poor law union; the electoral division of Muncaster; the rural deanery of Gosforth; and the county court district of Whitehaven.

Corney, otherwise Cornhow or Corno, is a sparsely-peopled parish lying along the coast, having Waberthwaite on the north, and Bootle on the south, whilst the eastern boundary is formed by a range of lofty fells terminating in the Black Combe. The soil on the west side consists of a deep clay or loam, exceedingly productive in the growth of corn and other grain; and on the high grounds it is for the most part light and dry, yielding large quantities of green and other crops, and supplying pasturage for numerous flocks of sheep. The parish covers an area of 4,255 acres, of which about 1,458 are either open common or moor, and is assessed at 1,254. The population in 1891 was 225. When a former edition of this work was published in 1847, and for many years previous, by far the greater portion of the land was farmed by its respective owners. Now, unfortunately, such is not the case, for, turn where we may, we see unmistakable signs that the original owners of the soil, that highly-respected and independent class, the yeomanry - or, as they are locally styled, "statesmen" - are slowly but surely passing away from our midst, and their small farms or holdings acquired one after another by the large landowners. This change in the land tenure, is greatly to be deplored, for

"Ill fares the land, to ravening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay."

The principal landowners are Lord Muncaster, the Misses Falcon, J.B. Postlethwaite, Messrs. Lindow, Jos. P. Jackson, Messrs. Grice, Miss Tyson, William Pritt, and a few others.

The air is remarkably salubrious, and conducive to longevity, as the following examples will show:- In 1768, Mark Noble died here, at the age of 113; in 1772, John Noble died, at the age of 114; and, in 1790, William Troughton "shuffled off this mortal coil," at the age of 102.

Lovers of picturesque scenery will be amply repaid by visiting a deep ravine on the Corney Hall estate, called "Black Dub Gill," where the astonished spectator cannot fail to be agreeably surprised at the majestic rocks which rise one above another, clothed with wood of every hue, while the deep sound of the Annas,* which flows through this romantic glen, adds not a little to the general interest, making it one of the most delightful places in the neighbourhood. Corney has long been noted for its superior cattle; a fair is held annually at the Brown Cow, on the second Friday in September, at which cattle, &c., are sold.

The Manor belonged at an early period to "Michael le Falconer," whose posterity assumed the local name of Corney. This family retained possession until the reign of Henry III, when, through failure of male issue, the estates were carried by the marriage of the heiress to the Penningtons, of Muncaster, from whom it has descended to Lord Muncaster, lord of the manor of Corney and Middleton Place. Lord Lonsdale is lord of certain lands, messuages, &c., and a few of the landowners possess the manorial privileges of their own estates. Although a large portion of the land has been enfranchised, there are still many customary tenants. About sixty acres of land, called Whitwray, pay poor and highway rates to Waberthwaite, and a prescription or modus of 2s. a year to the rector of Corney.

The Church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a plain edifice, consisting of nave and chancel, with a small belfry at the west end, containing two bells; a vestry was added in 1847. It stands near the centre of the parish, four miles S.S.E. of Ravenglass, and two miles N. by E. of Bootle. It would be difficult to find a more exposed and elevated site, being without shelter of any kind, and open to the full fury of every wind from heaven. Splendid views may be obtained from the churchyard, "o'er mount, and stream, and sea." To the east and north, mountains extend as far as the eye can see, including among their number Scawfell and Great Gable, and within a short distance the massive and sombre-hued mountain called Black Coombe blocks the southward prospect. At times glimpses may be seen of the Welsh Fells, and those of the Isle of Man are always visible during clear weather. Of recent years the old square windows have been replaced by Gothic ones, and the plaster ceiling by an open-timbered roof. While making the alterations traces were found of two ancient doorways, one leading into the nave on the north side, the other into the chancel on the south side, but both had been of small size; also signs that the windows had been originally Gothic in shape. This disfigurement and mutilation of the primitive design doubtless occurred during the Puritan period, when even the sublimity of Gothic architecture excited them to fanatical frenzy. Great quantities of human remains were found while excavating in the interior of the church, at a depth of only eighteen inches. In a space 30 feet by 7 feet, at least fifty skulls were disinterred, from which it seems that either the church has been built over a portion of the graveyard, or else at one time interments were permitted within. The bells are dated 1614 and 1621. The benefice formerly belonged to the Abbey of St. Mary of York, the Abbot of which presented in 1536, but it is now a rectory in the patronage of Lord Lonsdale, the advowson having been purchased of John, first baron of Muncaster, in 1803. The living is valued in the King's Book at 9 17s. 1d., and was certified to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 22 11s. 10d. It is now worth 125 net. The tithes were commuted in 1845 for a yearly rent charge of 147, apportioned on 2,719 acres; but of this sum 2 9s. is charged on 34a. 3r. 24p. of glebe, leaving 144 11s. as the tithe commutation. The present rector is the Rev. T.B.C. Wren, who succeeded to the living in 1880.

On the moor, which was enclosed in 1818, are evident marks of a Roman entrenchment, consisting of a large circle 65 yards in diameter, surrounded by a ditch 25 feet in width.

CHARITY - The sum of 30 has been left to the poor of the parish of Corney who do not receive parochial relief, the interest of which is distributed annually on Christmas Day.

Mr. Edward Troughton, an eminent mathematical and astronomical instrument maker of London, was born at the farmhouse called Welcome Nook, in this parish, in the garden of which he placed a beautiful sun-dial, and another in the churchyard. He succeeded to the business of his uncle and brother, in Fleet Street, London, and in 1826 took into partnership Simms, also eminent as a maker of mathematical instruments. It has been said of Troughton, that "he improved and extended every instrument he touched, and that every astronomical instrument was in its turn the subject of his attention." Many of the finest instruments in the Royal Observatory and other scientific establishments were constructed by him. He was also the author of several treatises in the Philosophical Transactions, &c. He was born in 1753, and died in London in 1835.

Middleton Place is a small hamlet about a mile north of the Parish Church. It gave name to the family of Middleton, who resided here in the ancient manor house for many generations.

High Corney is another hamlet 3 miles N.N.E. of Bootle; and Parknook, where the manor courts are held, is a small cluster of houses about 1 miles N.N.W. of Corney Church.

 

*The Annas takes its rise on Corney Fell, and, after flowing through this parish, enters that of Bootle, which it divides from Whitbeck, finally emptying itself into the sea at the hamlet of Annaside. On the 29th July, 1836, the inhabitants of this parish were suddenly alarmed by the bursting of a waterspout on Corney Fell. The mountain in question presented one entire sheet of water, which came rolling down with awful impetuosity, and in its course demolishing fences, tearing up and rendering impassable the roads, washing down several bridges, and inundating the low grounds to an extent never before known.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman