This is a parish in Allerdale-above-Derwent ward and petty sessional division; the county council electoral division of Muncaster; the union and rural district of Bootle; the deanery of Gosforth; and the county court district of Whitehaven. It is bounded on the north by Gosforth, on the west by the Irish Sea, on the south by the river Mite, which separates it from Muncaster, and on the east by Irton and Wasdale. It extends about four miles along the coast, two miles inland, and is divided by the river Irt into two parts, called Drigg and Carleton, which form, however, only one township. The area of the parish is 3,978 acres, which are assessed at 6,238. The population in 1801 was 367; in 1851, 430; in 1881, 567; and in 1891, 610. The means of livelihood are chiefly agriculture. The soil on the east side of the Irt is chiefly a deep clay and fertile loam, but on the west and north it is mostly of a sandy nature. It has long been noted for the abundance and excellence of its potato crop. The parish is watered by the Irt, which flows from Wast Water in a south westerly direction, and offers excellent sport to anglers by the abundance of its salmon and trout; and, according to the testimony of Camden, its shell fish produce pearls. Near the sea shore is a chalybeate spring, whose waters were formerly highly valued for their medicinal properties, and invalids from the surrounding districts and remote places sought restoration of health by drinking its waters. There is also lying near the coast one of those huge masses of stone known as boulder stones, which excite alike the curiosity of the scientific and non-scientific visitor. It is twelve feet in length, nine feet in breadth, and five and a half feet in height, and bears the name of Carl Crag. The stone is composed of fine-grained syenite, divided into transverse parallel sections of about two feet each in a vein of shale, half an inch in thickness, between two narrow strips of quartz. Some years ago, three hollow tubes of a vitrified substance were observed projecting from the surface of a sandhill on the sea coast, one of which was traced downwards to the depth of thirty feet. It is supposed the lightning struck the earth at the spot, and the electric fluid in its passage melted the quartz of the sand and converted it into glass.

The first recorded possessors of the manor of Drigg were the family of Stuteville or Estoteville, who held it in the reign of Henry II. In default of male issue, it passed to an heiress, who conferred it, along with her hand, upon Lord Wake, baron of Liddell, from whom it passed to the Greystokes, Harringtons, lords of Aldingham, and subsequently by marriage to the Curwens, but was sold in the reign of James I, by Sir Nicholas Curwen, to Sir William Pennington, of Muncaster, whose posterity have since enjoyed the manorial rights and privileges. Lord Leconfield is, however, lord paramount of the whole parish, and the tenants owe suit and service at the courts of the barony of Egremont. The lord of the manor claims flotsam, - wreck floating on the water; jetsam, - goods cast on shore from any vessel; and lagan, - goods that are sunk from any wreck. An inquisition of the barony of Egremont, taken in 1587, records that "Jos. Pennington holdeth certain lands in Dregg, late Richard Eaglesfield's, and before that, Thomas Wake's, by homage, fealtie, and suit of court, from three weeks to three weeks, and by the rent for cornage 6s. 8d.; for sea wake, 1s.; for sergeant's food, 4s.; wholly belonging to the lord de propartia, Dni. de Lucy."

The village of Drigg, consists of one street of well-built detached houses - each one bearing that mark of suburban gentility, a distinctive name. It extends from the vicinity of the sea to Holm Rook, on the Whitehaven road, two and a half miles north of Ravenglass. The origin of the name has not been satisfactorily ascertained - some seek its source in the Gaelic or Celtic word derigh or dergh, an oak tree; and suppose it to have been so named in consequence of the abundance of oaks growing in the parish. Another but very fanciful etymology has been advanced, and as it is founded on a circumstance that occurred many hundred years ago, and explains a little of the folk lore of the county, we will transcribe the account from the pages of Whellan's History of Cumberland and Westmorland:- "With respect to Drigg there is a well-known saying, 'Let us gang together like lads of Drigg and lasses of Beckermet,' which has reference to the manner in which Barnscar, or Bardscar, a ruined Danish city, or town, near the foot of Devoke Water, is said to have been peopled. This was accomplished by taking the men of Drigg and marrying them to the women of Beckermet, whose original helpmates had been slain in battle - what had become of the women of Drigg is a point on which the legend is silent. Drigg, formerly Dregg, may possibly take its name from the circumstance just alluded to - old Norse dreg, from the verb draga, to drag or lead away." The main features of this story closely resemble the expedient of the men of ancient Rome who, in order to, secure to themselves wives, carried off the Sabian women.

The present Church was erected in 1850 upon the site of an old one, which was, in monastic times, one of the possessions of Conishead Priory, in Furness. The old building, taken down in 1850, was a small plain structure, and thought by some to have been the original edifice. Of its foundation we have no evidence; but at an early period it was given by Anselm, son of Michael de Furness, to the monks of Conishead. At the valuation of monastic property by Henry VIII, the living at Drigg was set down at 7 7s. 4d., and at a later period it was returned to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty as worth 5 6s. 8d., a reduction of income arising from the impropriation of the living under a lay rector. The living is a vicarage worth 190 per annum. The Church is built in the Perpendicular style, and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, porch and belfrey. The west window is of stained-glass, representing Christ healing the sick, and is in memory of Abraham Thompson, M.D., of Ulverston, whose family have resided here for many generations. A new organ was placed in the chancel in 1897, to commemorate the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria. The church has sitting accommodation for about 180. At the dissolution of religious houses this church was granted to the Curwen family, and was sold with the manor by Sir Nicholas Curwen to the Penningtons of Muncaster. The late Lord Muncaster sold the advowson to Samuel Irton, Esq., by whom it was disposed of to the Messrs. Lindow, ironmasters, of Cleator, who are the present patrons. The tithes were remitted in the eighteenth century by the lay rector (Lord Muncaster), who received in exchange 1,100 acres of the common; the tenants were also enfranchised, and the whole parish is now freehold and tithe free.

The new vicarage was erected in 1891, at a cost of 2,500, defrayed by a grant from Queen Anne's bounty. The present pastor is the Rev. Keneth Mackenzie Pughe, M.A.

In 1723 a school was erected by subscription at Carleton, and in 1727 it was endowed by Joseph Walker with 260. The school was free to the children of those who had been contributary to its erection, with the exception of a small annual gratuity at Shrovetide, locally known as Cockpenny. Through bad management and other causes this endowment dwindled into insignificance, and the premises have been sold and converted into a cottage. Drigg school was founded in 1828 by the Rev. William Thompson, M.A., a native of the parish, and curate of Farnworth, near Prescot, Lancashire, who endowed it with a sum of money in the Three per Cent. Consols, producing an annual income of 42. According to the deed of foundation, the master was to teach eight poor children, natives of the parish, for the payment of 1s. entrance and 1s. per quarter each, but was allowed to take other pupils to the number of forty-five, who paid a regular quarterage. To meet the requirements of the Elementary Education Act of 1871, a new school was erected in 1878, at a cost of 800, subscribed by the landowners. The rules and regulations of the founder's charter still remain in force, with the exception of the clause limiting the number of scholars, which has been rescinded. The school is now open to all, and has about 80 names on the register.

Carleton, a constablewick lying between the rivers Irt and Mite, contains a number of scattered houses, and the hamlet of Hall Carleton, with Carleton Hall, from which fine views of Scawfell, the Pikes, Great Gable, and other lofty mountains may be obtained. Carleton, that is Carle, or Cearl-ton, the village of husbandmen (synonymous with the Villa Rustica of the Romans), reminds us of the bondage or serfdom of its inhabitants in the early age of our country. Part of the village of Holm Rook lies within this parish.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman