Eskdale and Wasdale

Form a joint civil parish in Bootle ward, petty sessional division, poor law union, and rural district, the county court district of Whitehaven, and the county council electoral division of Muncaster, containing the chapelries of Eskdale and Wasdale Head. The area comprised within its limits is 17,419 acres, but a large portion of this land is not subject to assessment. The ratable value is about 2,128, and the population 434.

Scawfell, the loftiest eminence in England, is in this parish, and here, until the eighteenth century, the red deer found a safe retreat within its glades and along its rocky sides.

The manor of Eskdale belongs to the barony of Egremont, but the farms have been enfranchised, and are now discharged of fines, heriots, and customary service, except the payment of door-toll and greenhew, doing suit and service at the courts leet and baron, etc., at Ravenglass. From an inquisition of the whole barony of Egremont, taken in 1578, we learn that the sum total of the rents of Eskdale at that time amounted to 7 15s. 4d. The same document informs us that the tenants of Eskdale paid a door-toll, amounting to 5s. 2d. per year, for every tenement, for which they were free in all the fairs and markets within the lordship of Copeland. The tenants of Miterdale enjoyed the same privileges, by the payment of door-toll amounting to 1s. 4d. a year, the sum total of the rents of Miterdale reaching 3 4s. 5d. The rights and privileges of the manor are possessed by Lord Leconfield. The following are also landowners: Edward Tyson, Dixon Sharpe, E. Sharpe, J. Hird, W. Hird, Towers Tyson, E. Sharpe, J. Tyson, and several others.

Although Eskdale and Wasdale constitute one civil parish, they are each distinct chapelries in the parish of St. Bees for ecclesiastical matters.

Eskdale Chapel, which stands near Boot, fourteen miles from the mother church, is dedicated to St. Catherine. The building has lost much of its ancient appearance by a partial restoration effected in 1881, at a cost of 750; a new vestry was added, and the interior greatly improved. All the windows are now filled with stained glass, beautiful alike in design and colouring. An old window, representing St. Catherine and a wheel, the instrument of her martyrdom, has been removed from the wall, and is now preserved at the vicarage. A well, contiguous to the church, still retains the name of St. Catherine's well. The pulpit is of oak, erected to the memory of Horatio Nelson Creeny in 1898. The benefice, a perpetual curacy, worth 65, is now held by the Rev. Richard Herbert Snape. Formerly, the parishioners exercised the right of presentation to the living, but the patronage has now for some time been invested in the Stanleys, of Ponsonby. For the convenience of the people of Eskdale Green, a new mission church, with day school, dedicated to St. Bega, was erected and opened in 1890, at a cost of 2,000, raised by subscription. It has seating accommodation for 120. The Wesleyan Chapel, erected here in 1849, was enlarged and improved in 1890 at an outlay of 300. The High school, near the village of Boot, which dates from 1863, has accommodation for 100 scholars, and is attended by about 34 children. The Low school, at the Green, has room for 100 pupils.

CHARITIES. - There is attached to the chapelry a poor stock, amounting to 107 4s. 9d., the interest of which, 2 19s., is applied to the poor just after the 31st March each year. The interest of 137 has been left by several donors for the education of the poor of Eskdale, and the interest of a further sum of 400 is divided on the first Sunday after Easter, among the poor who have not received parochial relief during the year. A small endowment of land produces 5 2s. yearly, which is applied to the High school.

The late John Vicars, Esq., in 1889, bequeathed the sum of 200 to the school. The interest is applied in rewards for attendance and progress.

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway was opened in 1876, and has stations at Boot, Beckfoot, and Eskdale Green.

The parish possesses a bobbin manufactory, a hoop and basket factory, and a corn mill. The latter is in the village of Boot and has been in active operation for over 200 years. The motive power of the mill is the water of Whillan Beck, which, a short distance above this spot, flows among and over rocks, forming a very pretty waterfall. Eskdale Green and Boot are villages in this parish.

Miterdale is a beautiful glen lying between the Screes and the hills on the north side of Eskdale. On a stone near Buck Crag are the impressions of the foot of a man, a boy, and a dog, which appear to be the work of nature. Doe Crag and Earn Crag are two remarkable precipices in this district, the former being 480 feet in perpendicular height, and the latter 360 feet. The Screes is a mountain range composed of loose stones on the south side of Wast Water, but best seen to advantage on the road leading from Nether Wasdale to Wasdale Head. After a frost the stones are precipitated down the side into the water below, making a tremendous noise in their fall.

The Fell Dales Association was established about thirty-four years ago for the purpose of improving the Herdwick or heath-going stock of sheep. The annual show is held at the Wool Pack Inn, in the month of September.

Wasdale Head Chapelry. Wasdale Head forms part of the manor of Eskdale, and was, Mr. John Denton tells us, inhabited by the red deer. The chapel is said to be the smallest one in England. The sacred edifice measures 40 feet by 17 feet, and at the easings the height is only 5 feet, 4 inches; it contains fourteen open pews. The ancient stone piscina is in the chancel. The value of the living is returned at 146, in the gift of the vicar of St. Bees, and at present held by the Rev. William M. Plues. The late vicar, the Rev. T.P. Bell, is the first person interred here; it is expected that the churchyard will be consecrated for burials shortly. The chapelries of Wasdale Head, Nether Wasdale, and Eskdale, adjoin each other, and form a mountainous region of about forty square miles.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman