With Kinniside, forms a united civil parish and chapelry in Allerdale-above-Derwent ward, and petty sessional division; the deanery, county court district, poor law union, and rural district of Whitehaven; and the county council electoral division of Lamplugh.

The parish contains a lake which covers an area of 1,400 acres. The river Ehen, which takes its rise in the lake, and runs through the district, has given its name to the dale - Ehen dale - corrupted into Ennerdale. The word Ehen is from the same source as Anan, and signifies water. Ennerdale, i.e., watery dale, is highly descriptive of the leading physical characteristics of the place. The water of the lake is of remarkable purity, and is the source of the Whitehaven water supply. It is neither large nor deep, but abounds with trout and char. Ennerdale appears to have been many years ago a forest, which according to the Sandford MSS. was well "stocked with deer, harts, and stags;" and frequent references are made to the "bow bearer of Ennerdale forest." All the ancient records are silent as to the time or manner of the disforesting of the district. The manor of Ennerdale, like the chapelry, was of considerable extent, and Ranulph de Meschines divided it into two portions - one he conferred upon the priory of St. Bees, and the other portion passed successively to the Harringtons, Bonvilles, and Greys; and was ultimately forfeited to the Crown in 1554 by the attainder of Henry, Duke of Suffolk, father of Lady Jane Grey. The manor was granted by Queen Elizabeth, in 1568, to the tenants; but the rights and privileges are now vested in the Earl of Lonsdale, having been purchased by that noble house in 1821.

How Hall or Castle How and its estate were anciently the residence and property of the Patricksons, from whom it passed by purchase in the 17th century to Joseph Tiffin, Esq. It was subsequently sold to Joseph Senhouse, Esq., of Calder Abbey, who rebuilt the house, but carefully preserved the antiquities of the old place. On a tablet in the wall is the following inscription:- "This house was built A.D. 1566 by Anthony Patrickson and Frances his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Swynbourne, one of the Privy Council to Henry VIII." How Hall is now a farmstead.

The village of Ennerdale Bridge is situated on the banks of the Ehen, about a mile to the west of the lake, and eight miles from Whitehaven. An annual sheep fair is held here on the second Tuesday in September. On the banks of the stream, and near the lake, are the bleach works of Messrs. D. and J. Ainsworth. They were built in 1866, and are driven by water power, supplied from the lake. The Chapel is a neat structure in the Norman style, erected in 1858, on the site of the old one. The small turret contains the bell from the old chapel, which, from the legend round the rim - "Sancta Bega Ora pro nobis" (St. Bega pray for us) must be a relic of pre-reformation times. Wordsworth has embalmed the memory of this chapel in his poem of "The Brothers" -

"In our churchyard
Is neither epitaph nor monument,
Tombstone nor name - only the turf we tread
And a few natural graves."

The Church was built by subscription, aided by a grant of 60 from the Church Building Society. The curacy was certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 4 13s. 4d., which was paid by the lay impropriator, Lord Lonsdale. The tithes were commuted in 1846 for a yearly rent charge of 143, viz., 68 for Ennerdale, and 75 for Kinniside. The living is a perpetual curacy, valued at 84, and is now held by the Rev. J. Tyson. The patronage belongs to Allan De Lane Curwen, Esq. The registers commence in 1548. The parochial school is attended by about 80 children.

CHARITY. - The interest of 27 (donor unknown), 1 1s. 9d., is distributed among the poor every Easter Tuesday.

An attempt was recently made by a few capitalists to obtain Parliamentary powers for the construction of a line of railway six miles in length through Ennerdale. Their object they alleged was to develop the mineral resources of the valley. The bill was read the first time, but the strong opposition of local landowners and others to the scheme succeeded in causing its rejection in committee. Well might the poet ask -

"Is there no spot of English ground secure
From rash assault ?"

Kinniside is separated from Ennerdale by the river Ehen, and consists mostly of fell land, dotted here and there with scattered farmsteads. Lord Leconfield is lord of the manor, but the land is owned chiefly by the resident yeomen. In an inquisition taken in 1778, Kinniside is returned as within the forest of Copeland, and it is stated that the tenants there paid yearly to the lord, for "the freelage of their tolls through all the markets and fairs in Copeland, a certain custom called Door-toll, viz., for every tenements' door, 2d," which then amounted to 6s. 10d. The sum total of the rents in Kinniside reached 6 18s. 5d.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

24 July 2003

Steve Bulman