This parish, which is about two miles in length and one and a half in breadth, is bounded on the north by Gosforth, on the south by the river Mite, which separates it from Muncaster, on the east by Miterdale and Wasdale, and on the west by Drigg. It is comprised within the ward and petty sessional division of Allerdale-above-Derwent; the county council electoral division of Muncaster; the deanery of Gosforth; the union and rural district of Bootle; and the county court district of Whitehaven. The river Irt, from which the parish has derived its name, flows in a south-westerly direction through it. It is a purely agricultural and grazing district of 6,046 acres, which are assessed at £4,100, and inhabited by 530 souls. In 1801 the population was 466; in 1851, 572; and in 1881, 614; showing a decrease between then and the present time of 84. The parish contains one township, Irton-with-Santon, and several hamlets. The surface is hilly, and in the northern parts rather mountainous; the soil varying in quality from gravel and clay to a mossy earth. Granite is plentiful at Irton Hall, but neither coal, limestone, nor freestone is found in this parish. The river Irt, according to Camden, was famous for its pearl-producing mussels; and Nicholson and Burn, in their history of Cumberland, tell us that Mr. Thomas Patrickson, of How Hall, in this county, having employed divers poor inhabitants to gather these pearls, obtained such a quantity of them as he sold to the jewellers in London for about £800. The river is also frequented by salmon, and abounds with trout and small fry. The parish was enclosed pursuant to Act of Parliament, passed in 1809. The principal landowners are Thomas Brocklebank, Esq., Irton Hall; Sir Thomas Brocklebank, Greenlands; Charles R. Fletcher Lutwidge, Esq., J.P., D.L.; Lord Muncaster, Exors. of Jacob Gaitskell, Joseph Burrough, Mrs. Shirwen, John Musgrave, Mrs. Sim, etc., etc.

IRTON-WITH-SANTON township contains several scattered houses lying between the Irt and Mite, from two to four miles north-east of Ravenglass.

The Manor was held by a family of the same name from the Norman Conquest to the death of the late Samuel Irton, Esq., J.P. In the 35th of Henry VIII it was found by inquisition that Richard Irton, Esq., held the manor and town of Irton of the King, as of his castle of Egremont, by homage and fealty, 1d. rent, and suit at the court of Egremont. He also possessed Cleator, and a moiety of the manor of Bassenthwaite. A few years later (1578) Richard Irton held the manor of Irton by homage, fealty, and suit of court, and by the rent of 7d. for cornage. One of the early members of this family, Adam D'Yrton, of Yrton, was a skilful swordsman, and rivalled in some of his feats the exploits of Richard I. He was one of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and was present at the capture of the Holy City by the first Crusaders under Godfrey of Boulogne. It is said of him that on one occasion he slew a Saracen general, severing his head from his body by a single blow. The demesne is large; but only three estates now pay customary rents, arbitrary fines and heriots, with other boons and services; all the rest have been enfranchised. On the death of the late Samuel Irton, Esq., the estates passed to Mr. Ryder, a relative; but, on the demise of the latter shortly afterwards, the property was offered for sale, and purchased by S. and J. Lindow. Mr. Burns, the nephew of J. Lindow, succeeded to the estates, and adopted the name of Lindow. From the Exors. of the late Jonas Lindow-Burns-Lindow the estates were purchased by Thomas Brocklebank, Esq., in 1896, in whose possession they have since remained.

Irton Hall, for generations the manorial home of the Irtons, is delightfully situated on the summit of an eminence, surrounded by beautiful sylvan scenery. Much of the hall has been modernised, but there still remains one interesting archæological feature - the old quadrangular tower, built in the castellated style with embrasures, and was probably the principal part of the old hall. In the front of the house is the trunk of a gigantic old oak, whose girth three men can scarcely encompass with their arms extended.

The Church, dedicated to St. Paul, is a handsome modern structure, rebuilt in 1795, and again remodelled in 1856, when the chancel was enlarged, and a new vestry built. The west end is surmounted by a lofty castellated tower, containing a peal of eight bells. Within the church are several monuments to the memory of different members of the Irton, Lutwidge, Winder, Mossop, and Brocklebank families. The windows are all filled with stained glass, which modify the light, and impart to the interior a feeling of quietness and devotion. According to Tanner, this church, which he erroneously calls St. Michael de Yirrton, was appropriated in 1227 to the nunnery of Seaton, or Seakley. On the suppression of monastic institutions, it was granted to the Penningtons of Muncaster, ancestors of the present Lord Muncaster. The tithes and right of presentation were purchased from Lord Muncaster by the late Samuel Irton, Esq. The present patrons are the Messrs. Lindow, of Cleator. There is no mention of this church in the King's Book; but to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty its annual value was certified at £4 13s. 4d. When the parish was enclosed in 1809, an allotment of land was given to the church in lieu of tithes. The living is now worth £160, with residence, and is in the hands of the Rev. Walter Horatio Spurrier, M.A. In the churchyard is an ancient cross, nearly ten feet in height, having its four sides richly carved with elegant scroll work, frets, and knots, very much in the style of the Runic crosses found in the Isle of Man.

CHARITIES. - Poor Money - The interest of £17 is given away annually at Easter, among poor householders of the parish, who have not received parochial relief. Bread and Cheese Money - The sum of 3s. 4d. is annually paid under this description out of the Muncaster estate. The origin of the payment is unknown. School. - Henry Caddy left by will, in 1716, £150 towards the maintenance of a master, who should teach the children of those parishioners only who contributed to the erection of a school on Irton Moor. The interest arising from endowments, together with voluntary subscriptions, amounts to £30 a year. In 1872, William Birkett, of Hewrigg, Irton, gave the sum of £100, the interest of which is added to the school funds. Admiral Lutwidge left by will three guineas per annum, charged upon land, to be distributed at Christmas amongst six poor widows.

SANTON, SANTON BRIDGE, and HALL SANTON consist of several scattered houses on the north side of the Irt.

The Manor of Santon in the time of Richard III appears to have been held by Alan de Copeland. A survey taken in 1578 records Roger Kirkby, Esq., as holding Santon, and certain lands in Gosforth, Hale, and some other places by homage, fealty, and suit of court, and the payment of 6s. 8d. for fee farm, cornage, seawake, &c. It was subsequently held by the families of Irton and Winder. The manor eventually became the property of the Lutwidge family, and is now held by Charles R. Fletcher Lutwidge, Esq. Holm Rook Hall, the residence of the Lutwidges, is pleasantly situated on an eminence, on the northern bank of the Irt, three miles north east from Ravenglass.

The Wesleyan Chapel, situated at Santon, was erected in 1828. It will seat 90 worshippers.

The village of Holm Rook is pleasantly situated on the northern bank of the Irt, on the high road from Ravenglass to Egremont. The greater part of the village is in the parish of Drigg, but a part of it lies within Irton parish. Here is the Reading Room and Library containing 700 volumes.

Opposite to Irton Hall, are the extensive nursery grounds of Mr. William Henry Bewlay, chiefly covered with shrubs and forest trees. Lower down is the delightful villa of Greenlands, the property and seat of Sir Thomas Brocklebank.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman