Cumrew Parish

This is a parish in Eskdale ward, and petty sessional division, the county council electoral division of Hayton; and the deanery, poor law union, rural and county court districts of Brampton. It is bounded by Croglin, Cumwhitton, Carlatton, and Castle Carrock.

The townships of Cumrew Inside and Cumrew Outside are comprised within the parish, and together contain 2,686 acres. The gross rental is £1,727, and the ratable value £1,559. Agriculture is the only employment of the people, who number 103. The soil is dry and gravelly, producing barley, oats, some wheat, and excellent potatoes. A hill, named Cardunneth (1,300 feet), one of the Pennine Range, is within the limits of the parish. From its summit may be seen the distant waters of the Solway; and in the summer time it is a favourite resort of pic-nic parties.

There are three manors in the parish, viz., Cumrew, Brackenthwaite, and Newbiggin, all of which belong to the Earl of Carlisle, two by purchase and one by inheritance. The fines and rents were remitted to the tenants for a mere nominal consideration in the reign of Charles II. The principal landowners are John George Gill, Esq., Mrs. Ann Beckton and Miss Leach, Cumwhitton; Rev. Alfred Scott, London; James Atkinson, Brackenthwaite; and James B. Newton, Turnberry House. The village of Cumrew is distant about seven miles south of Brampton, and twelve E.S.E. of Carlisle.

The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, was rebuilt in 1890, at a cost of £2,500, the amount being defrayed by subscription. It is a small edifice, consisting of chancel, nave, and porch at the west end, surmounted by a tower carrying two bells. The style of architecture is Gothic, and the red sandstone used in the erection was obtained from a local quarry. The interior presents a very pleasing appearance, the tiled floor of the chancel being especially beautiful. The church contains several stained glass windows of choice designs. During the rebuilding a tombstone eight feet long was discovered below the floor. It is supposed by the late R.S. Ferguson, M.A., L.LM., F.S.A., to be the effigy of Joane, wife of William De Dacre of Dunwalloght, and daughter and heiress of Benedict Gernet, who sat in Parliament from 1299 to 1318, and whose son married the heiress of Gilsland. Joan Dacre died in 1324. The stone has been placed in the vestry. The old communion table is also preserved in the vestry; it bears the date 1686 and the initials D.J.C. (John Calvert).

The royal commissioners, appointed by Edward VI, in their visitation of this parish, report that they found here "ij bells one litill bell; " this "litill bell" was probably the one rung at certain parts of the mass. One of the "ij bells" still swings in the tower, and calls forth each Sabbath day to the services of the Established church, as it did of old to the mass of the ancient creed. It bears the following inscription in Gothic capitals, AVE MARIA, GRACIA PLENA (Hail Mary, full of grace), and is supposed to be about 500 years old. The other bell has been replaced by one which bears the date 1750.

This living was formerly a perpetual curacy in the gift and impropriation of the dean and chapter of Carlisle; but the tithes both vicarial and rectorial, have been transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The tithes have been commuted for a yearly payment of £45, and the rest of the income is derived from land purchased with divers grants from Queen Anne's Bounty. The rectory is now worth £148, and is held by the Rev. Jas. Lamb, B.A.

The School was erected in 1845, at a cost, including master's house, of £190. It has since been improved, towards the cost of which the National Society contributed £40.

In a field near the church may be seen the outline of an extensive quadrangle, and when Hutchinson wrote, there was, what he conceived, indications of a large edifice having occupied the spot. These have been conjectured to be the remains of Dunwalloght castle, but there is not the least evidence in support of this assumption; and when two small mounds were removed in 1832, not a single trace of masonry or foundation was found. The Dacres formerly possessed two small estates here, which were sold to Sir Christopher Musgrave; and Dugdale, in his Baronage, tells us that they had a castle called Dunwalloght, situated near the borders; but beyond this allusion nothing is known, either of its history or its site. On the summit of Cardunnock, whose British name has descended to us with considerable purity, may be seen some of the circular pit dwellings of the ancient Celtic inhabitants. Close by is a cairn of stones — an accumulation which must have cost the expenditure of a vast amount of labor, — in which some British chief was laid to rest, with his war axe and flint headed spear beside him. "Great indeed must have been the importance of the mighty dead, for whom these sepulchres on the mountains' brow were reared; and as when living they were held in honor, so they were set forth on their long journey to the unseen land of Annwyn, — the Celtic paradise of the west, — it may be with a nation's tribute of reverence and love."*

Abbyfield and Brackenthwaite are two small hamlets in the parish, the former one, and the latter one and a half miles N. of Cumrew.



* Rev. G.Rowe Hall, F.S.A., in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archæological Society.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman