|This is a long, narrow parish in Eskdale ward and
petty sessional division; county council electoral division of Hayton; county court
district, poor-law union, and rural district of Brampton. It lies on the east side of the
river Eden, and is bounded on the north by Great Corby, on the south by Ainstable and
Staffield, on the east by Cumrew and Carlatton, and on the west by the above-named river.
The acreage of the entire parish, according to the Ordnance Survey, is 5,824 acres, of
which the gross estimated rental is £5,315 12s.; the ratable value of the land, £3,732
15s.; and of the buildings, £1,049 10s. This, like many other purely agricultural
parishes, has witnessed a decrease in its population during recent years; in 1841 there
were 533 inhabitants; in 1881, 497; and in 1891, 453. The soil is light and stony,
producing barley, oats, a little wheat, and excellent potatoes. The climate is cold but
invigorating and healthy. In the southern part of the parish is a tract of dreary treeless
waste, commonly called King Harry, where, according to tradition, one of the Kings of
England who bore that name encamped with his army. Tradition has not preserved any
distinguishing feature to enable us to indicate the king alluded to, but we know that the
unfortunate Henry VI, after the battle of Hexham, fled into Cumberland, and may probably
have had with him a remnant of his army, and encamped here. A stone is pointed out from
which, it is said, King Harry mounted his charger. A portion of this moor has, during
recent years, been brought into cultivation, but still there remains a large extent of
unattractive and uninviting waste, from which the traveller recoils. Each inhabitant of
the parish has his own portion allotted to him, from which to obtain peat, a great
quantity of it being used in this district. Upon an eminence near the centre of this moor
are the remains of a Druidical circle, which formerly consisted of eighty-eight stones,
and was fifty-two yards in diameter. It is designated in the locality Grey Yauds, from the
colour of the stones, of which there now remains only one, and yaud, a north country name
for a horse. At Cairn Head, on the eastern side of King Harry, and within a space
of twelve yards, are three springs, from which issue volumes of water sufficiently large
to form, when united, a brook of considerable magnitude. These springs are not only the
most copious, but also the purest in the county. The parish is divided into two townships,
viz., Cumwhitton and Northsceugh-with-Moorthwaite.
CUMWHITTON. - The area and ratable value of this township are given with that of the parish.
The manor of Cumwhitton was given by Ranulph de Meschines to Hildred de Carlisle. It appears subsequently to have been granted to the Abbey of Lanercost. This grant did not include the rectory, which was held by the prior and convent of Carlisle, but neither the name of the donor nor the time of the transfer is known. After the dissolution of religious houses this manor, with other possessions of the suppressed abbey, was granted to the Dacres, and is now held by the Earl of Carlisle, as a dependent manor of the barony of Gilsland.
HORNSBY constituted a separate lordship, also belonging to the monks of Lanercost. It was sold by Henry Dacre before 1688 to John Atkinson, and the manorial rights and privileges were subsequently purchased by the landowners, whose estates it comprehended.
The village is about seven miles S. by W. of Brampton. There were formerly on the village green two artificial mounds, which had been used as butts in the good old days, when the stout yeomen of Cumberland prided themselves upon their skill in archery. These mounds were known as High and Low Willy Wastel, "probably from the great archer recorded in song."
The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure, consisting of nave, chancel, and tower. The period of its first erection is not known, but a church occupied the spot when the Valor of Pope Nicholas was taken, in 1291, at which time it was returned as a rectory, valued at £8 14s. 0d. A few years later, when Edward II, in order to raise money laid a tax on church livings, Cumwhitton, or as it was then called Cumquintington, escaped on account of its poverty. This church was possessed of rectorial privileges until appropriated to the priory of Carlisle by one of the early lords. After the suppression of monastic establishments, all the church patronage, held by the prior of Carlisle, was transferred to the Dean and Chapter, who have since continued to exercise that privilege. The tithes were commuted in 1840 for a yearly rent-charge of £175, viz., great tithes for £105, and meal tithes £70. Hutchinson tells us that "the Dean and Chapter demise all the rectory of Cumwhitton, except the curate's house and garden, viz., all the glebe lands and meadows called Kirkcroft, tithes and oblations, &c., under the yearly rent of fifteen eskeps of haver meal, and 10s. in money, besides the curate's stipend of £10." The living is now worth £265, and is held by the Rev. William Maudsley. There is very little in the church requiring special mention. A small circular window of stained glass has been inserted in the south side to the memory of the Rev. John Leach, incumbent of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and member of a family resident in this parish for many generations; and a new bell, raised by subscription, has been placed in the tower. The register dates from 1694. The vicarage, erected some years ago, is a very plain building, situated at the south end of the village.
A Wesleyan Chapel was erected in 1891 at a cost of about £450; it is built of red sandstone, and has sitting accommodation for 120.
For the educational requirements of the parish a school was established in 1876 at Piper's Stile, by the Board, for the united district of Cumwhitton and Carlatton. It is a good stone building, with teacher's house attached, and cost £1,300. The old parochial school at Sandy Syke has been discontinued, and the endowment of £200, left by Mr. Adam Hodgson, has been transferred to the district school.
An estate in this township, known as Nunfield, belonged in pre-Reformation times to the nunnery of Armathwaite. A singular and curious custom formerly appertained to this estate; the owner paid yearly to the lord of Armathwaite manor, a goose and a cart-load of coals, and was toll-free throughout England. The Nunfield estate is now divided into two, and the old customary payment of a goose and cart-load of coals has been converted into a money payment of 10s. that is 5s. for each owner, who are both toll-free over the whole country. (See Ainstable Parish for the origin of this privilege.)
The principal landowners of the township are the Earl of Carlisle, Edward Ecroyd, Esq.; and the resident yeomen.
NORTHSCEUGH with MOORTHWAITE form a joint township, the area and ratable value of WHICH are given with the parish. The soil is owned by the following The exors. of Richard Leach; William Parkins, Esq., Westmorland; Edward Ecroyd, Esq.; John Hewitson, High Northsceugh; Thomas Hewitson; the exors. of John Lee, Brampton; Joseph Fisher, Hornsby Gate; John Robinson, Scarrow Hill; John Dodd; J. Hetherington, Moorthwaite; and Joshua Earl Ion, Low Holme.
The following hamlets are within the township Moorthwaite, 1 mile S.; Hornsby, 1½ miles S. by E.; Northsceugh (High), 3 miles S.by E.; and Northsceugh (Low), 2 miles S. by E. of Cumwhitton.
This parish belongs geologically to the new red sandstone formation; and quarries of that rock are worked at Cairn, Fishgarth, Holme Wood, and on the east side of King Harry. The latter two are in Moorthwaite, and the inhabitants of that township have the privilege of taking stone from them for building purposes.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman