Dearham

Is a parish of 2,149 acres, bounded on the north by the river Ellen, on the south by Dovenby, Broughton Moor, and Gilcrux, and on the west by the Irish Sea. It is comprised within Derwent ward and petty sessional division; Cockermouth union and rural district; the county court district of Cockermouth and Workington; and the rural deanery of Maryport; and gives name to a division for the election of a member of the county council. The ratable value is 6,221, and the population 2,598. In the district the soil is chiefly clay or loam (except near the coast, where there is a band of light, sandy land), and produces excellent crops of wheat, oats, etc. Coal exists in abundance, and is worked to a considerable extent, being the chief means of livelihood of the inhabitants, who live principally in the village. A colliery worked on the co-operative principle is in active operation, known as the Cross Low Colliery. The pit was sunk in 1895. The royalty covers an area of 600 acres. The mine gives employment to 120 men, and turns out about 100 tons of coal per day. The workmen own shares of the value of 5. The Town Head Colliery Co. own a pit at the Row Beck end of the village, yielding about 30 tons per day. The Jubilee Pottery Co., formerly known as the Dearham Pottery Co., has been in existence for upwards of a century. A quantity of brown earthenware is manufactured. The chief proprietors of the land are the Trustees of the late F.L.B. Dykes, George Lightfoot, the Earl of Lonsdale, John Wilson, John Walker, and Colonel Sewell, of Brandlingill.

The Manor of Dearham was granted in moieties by Alan, the second lord of Allerdale; one was given to Simon Sheftling, and the other to Dolphin, son of Gospatric. Sheftling's posterity assumed the name of Dearham. This moiety was carried by an heiress to the Barwis family, and subsequently to the Lamplughs, one of whom, Richard Lamplugh, Esq., sold the estate in 1722 to Sir James Lowther. The other moiety was given by one of its early owners to Calder Abbey; and after the dissolution of monasteries, was granted by Queen Elizabeth, to Thomas and John Lifford. Besides the Earl of Lonsdale, Calder Abbey, and the freeholders, the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle claim a share of the manorial rights and privileges.

The Church. A thousand years ago, it is said, missionaries from Ireland, and the west of Scotland traversed this district, scattering the seeds of Christianity among the pagan Saxons. A cross was erected, a church of wickerwork probably soon followed, and this was succeeded by one constructed of stones taken from the neighbouring Roman station at Ellenborough. Vestiges of this first stone fabric were discovered during restoration, and a careful examination showed the original building to have been of very limited dimensions, and probably of very rude workmanship. The present edifice displaced the old Saxon one during the Norman period, as is indicated by the style of the moulding, &c., of the old doorways and windows. A tower was added after the commencement of the Border warfare, as a place of protection for the inhabitants, and also as a beacon to give warning of the approach of the enemy. Whatever there was of sculpture or carving within the church was ruthlessly destroyed by the fanatical zealots of the Commonwealth, who could only see in this religious symbolism conveyed by the chisel, relics of the ages of Popery.

After the Restoration, the church was put into thorough repair again, the old weather-beaten roof was taken off, and the present one substituted.

The Church was restored and enlarged by the addition of a north aisle in 1882, at a cost of 1,750, raised by voluntary subscriptions, the work being carried out from the designs of Mr. Ferguson, the eminent architect of Carlisle. In the work of restoration he has reproduced the original features of the church, notably the windows, many of which had been barbarously mutilated by modern insertions. During the progress of the work many coffin lids or sepulchral slabs were discovered, which the vicar, the Rev. W.S. Calverley, with a most commendable desire to preserve to future generations these relics of its past history, caused to be built into the walls of the porch and aisle. Some of them bear foliated crosses. One slab is inscribed with a cross and sword, and the following words in very ancient lettering: "Kestula Radulphi d' Aincurt," that is the "Tomb of Ralph d' Eyncourt." Nothing is known of Ralph's connection with Dearham; but a family of the same name figures prominently in the military annals of the Edwardian period, and a Radulphus d' Aincurt fought at the battle of Caerlaverock Castle, in the reign of the first Edward. In the walls of the porch are numerous fragments of tombstones bearing crosses, swords, and other symbols indicating the rank or sex of the person whose remains they once covered. A fine old cross, five feet four inches in height, stands in the churchyard, elaborately sculptured, and very similar to those found in the Isle of Man. The carving appears to be that mysterious symbolism used by the northern nations in their mythology, and afterwards adopted by the Christian missionaries to represent the mysteries of man's redemption. On its face is seen the Yggdrasil or great world ash of Scandinavian mythology, and transformed by the missionaries into the Tree of Life. The roots strike into the earth, and the interlacing branches cover the whole stone. The cross appears to be seventh or eighth century work. But perhaps the most interesting relic preserved about the church is the old Runic monumental slab, so rich in ancient art symbolism as to be worthy a place in "Old Northern Runic Monuments of Scandinavia and England," by Professor Stephens, of Copenhagen. The slab was formerly over the northern door, but was taken from that position by the vicar, and cleared of its numerous coats of whitewash, when its Runic and Roman lettering were first seen.

The following interesting particulars of the "slabs" and its interpretation were supplied by the Rev. W.S. Calverley, to the third volume of Professor Stephens' work alluded to above. "It is of a yellowish sandstone, probably from the old quarry near the junction of Rowbeck with the Ellen. Length, 4 feet by 3 inches and a quarter; least width, at foot, 13 inches; greatest width, 15 inches; depth, 6 inches. On the top, a raised border runs round the slab, 1 inch in width, but two inches at the Runic end. The width of the panel bearing the Roman letters is 3 inches. At the right corner of the upper or broader end a piece has been broken away, carrying with it part of the third figure and the beginning of the Runic writing. Sufficient remains to show that we have here a representation of the fall and restoration of humanity, in which the seed of the woman shall bruise the Serpent's head, though that Serpent bruise his heel (Genesis 3, 15). Under the runes, seven revolving bodies whirl above the tabernacle work of three round arches, each studded with eight symbolic pellets, under which are Adam, in whom all die, hand in hand with the Woman, and with Christ, in whom all are made alive again. Beneath, are two serpents, one biting the foot of the mitred man, "the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls " (1 Peter, 2, 25); the other with bruised head, down twisted. Something is left of further sculpture, running up the broken part. Then comes a mysterious quatrefoil, the centre occupied by a revolving body which throws out four tongues of flame or arrows of fire at right angles with each other, whilst each arch of the sign is studded with raised flat pellets and incised points, arranged alternately, each arch containing four pellets and three points, the whole sign 28 pellets and points in all. Outside the quatrefoil, in three of the angles, again revolves the whirling body. What can this be but the revolutions of sun and moon, the seven days of the week, the four weeks of the month or 28 days, of which four are the great holy days the Sundays? Then another strange sign, in which thunder-bolts and lightning-arrows take the form of a St. Andrew's Cross and a Greek Cross. Next, an archway, something of the shape of a horseshoe, studded with points (only four left), with the revolving sphere again in its centre; beside it, a mitred head under a canopy or halo or arch, studded with eight flat pellets. So comes the emblem of Eternity or of the Ancient of Days, the fret without beginning and without end. All the sculptures on this upper side or face are in relief.

"The front side has no border, and most of its sculptures are incised. Beginning on the right, we have the ancient cross sign known as St. Andrew's. Next, I think, the sun in all his glory, or perhaps the earth. Then, a straight perpendicular line, with five side-strokes. Seemingly too regular to be chisel marks, though I dare not give them any meaning. Next, a sort of revolving body throwing out rays of light, the six principal being slightly curved, showing active motions. This may be the sun. To the left is an inflected or deflected rod, one end taking the form of a crook. The whole has budded and floriated, and the trefoil is plainly visibly amongst the floriations, as also is the arrow-lightning sign. Further left, a four-lobed star, followed by diamond or losenage work (a bit of the corner knocked oft). The (12 hours' light and 12 night hours, or full) day of active life of our Bishop, whose stall has budded and been fruitful among the worshippers of the sun or the thunderer, is over. What is certain is, that this Runic slab must be earlier than the north doorway of our Norman church, over which it was placed as mere building-stuff."

The font is another venerable piece of antiquity, and, though not very elaborate in its design, yet its sides are rich in sculptured imagery of a northern character. The pedestal has been placed upon a new base during the present restoration.

The earliest documentary evidence of Dearham Church is a conveyance by Alice de Romiley, daughter of William Fitz Duncan, in which she grants it "to God and the Church of St. Mary at Gisburne, and the canons serving God there, for the health of her soul and the souls of her father and mother, and all her ancestors and successors, and her husbands, Gilbert de Pipard and Robert de Courtenay, which grant was confirmed by Hugh, Bishop of Carlisle." A short time previous to the dissolution of monasteries, the prior, seeing the fate which was impending over his convent, granted the advowson of this church to two Yorkshire gentlemen; but Queen Mary, in her endeavour to restore the Catholic religion, conferred the patronage upon the Bishop of Carlisle. The transference was opposed by the two grantees, but the right of presentation subsequently came to the bishop of the diocese, by whom it is at present exercised. The living is worth 290. During the restoration an east window, the gift of Mr. John Wilson, was inserted; and a bell weighing over 8 cwt., presented by Colonel Sewell, of Brandlingill.

The vicarage is a plain stone building, erected in 1815, and enlarged and much improved during 1883, at a cost of 900, raised by voluntary subscriptions. In 1891 a Mission Room in connection with the church, and providing accommodation for 400, was built at a cost of 600.

The Wesleyans and the Primitive Methodists have chapels in the village, the former erected in 1839, and enlarged by the addition of a schoolroom in 1844; and the latter in 1856, at a cost of 210.

The Board School, erected in 1874, is of a very pleasing style of architecture. It contains three departments - girls, boys, and infants, with classroom attached to the latter, and is attended by about 450 children. The Temperance Hall is a large plain building, built in 1876 at a cost of 500.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman