Lorton

Now constituted a distinct parish for all civil and ecclesiastical matters, is comprised within the ward and petty sessional division of Derwent; the rural deanery and county court district of Cockermouth and Workington; the county council electoral division of Derwent Fells, and the poor law union and rural district of Cockermouth. It covers an area of 5,264 acres, which are assessed at 3,336, and contains a population of 377, who are chiefly engaged in agriculture. The word Lorton is said to be a contraction of Lower Town. The civil and ecclesiastical parishes are not co-extensive; the latter includes part of Brackenthwaite, and the eastern portion of Whinfell extending to and including the hamlet of Rogerscale. The whole of the civil parish belongs to the honor of Cockermouth, as a parcel of the manor of Derwent Fells, except a small customary manor, which belongs to the dean and chapter of Carlisle, to whose court here their tenants in this neighbourhood are amenable. "The customary tenants pay a fourpenny fine upon change of tenant by death; but the lord never dies. And the tenants are entitled to all wood upon their respective customary estates." Hutchinson says, "In the reign of Henry VIII it was held in severalty by three persons, Winder, Sands, and Huddleston; but we do not find how they derived their title." The landowners are A.J.S. Dixon, John Wilson, William Lancaster Alexander, John Norman Dixon, Mrs. Tate, and several others.

The Church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, is situated between the villages of High and Low Lorton. It is a plain substantial building, with a small square tower or belfry, and was extensively repaired in 1872, chiefly by the late R. Harbord, Esq. The church was made parochial in 1898, and a district of 9,712 acres allotted to it. The living is valued at 144, and is now hold by the Rev. William Henry Cockett. The registers commence in 1538.

The School was built in 1809, rebuilt and enlarged in 1859, and further extended in 1895, chiefly at the expense of W.L. Alexander. Average attendance, 92; George Oglethorpe, master. The school possesses an ancient endowment of 100, the bequest of various donors now unknown. Besides this sum it has the interest of 100, left in 1844 by A. Bowe, Esq.; and 100, left in 1847 by G.L. Bragg, Esq.

The charities of this parish are now distributed according to a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated September 25th, 1896, by a body of seven trustees, three representative and four co-optative. The sums are as follows:-

Consolidated guaranteed 4 per cent. Stock of the London and North-Western Railway Co. 62 0s. 0d.
Charity of Arthur Bowe, 108 169. 10d. income, 2 19s. 8d.
        "      John Bragg, 50 0s. 0d.      "       1 10s. 0d.
        "      Geo. L. Bragg, 97 19s. 2d.      "       2 13s. 8d.
        "      Arthur Dover, 201 0s. 1d.      "       5 10s. 4d.


The school site and buildings are held for a customary estate of inheritance of the manor of Lorton. The income of the Lorton General School (if any) and of the Free School Charity, otherwise the school stock, and of the charities of Arthur Bowe, John Bragg, and Arthur Dover shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be applied by the Trustees for the general purposes of the school of the charities. The Trustees may apply the whole or any portion of the income of the several charities in or towards the maintenance of Evening Classes in one or both townships of Lorton and Whinfell.

High and Low Lorton are two villages in the township, distant about half a mile from each other, and four miles S. by E. of Cockermouth. A flax spinning and thread manufactory is carried on in the village of High Lorton, by Mr. W. Jennings. The Wesleyan Chapel is a small stone building with cemented front, erected in 1840.

The Vale of Lorton, through which runs the river Cocker, is about three miles in length, and beautified with rich meadows, wood-covered eminences, and scattered hamlets. Mr. Gilpin says, "Nature, in this scene, lays totally aside her majestic frown, and wears only a lovely smile. The vale of Lorton is of the extended kind, running a considerable way between mountains, which range at about a mile's distance. They are near enough to screen it from the storm; and yet not so impending as to exclude the sun." The charm of the vale consists in the quiet pastoral beauty with which the scene is everywhere fraught, and the tranquilising effect it produces upon the mind after the excitement caused b a visit to the neighbouring rugged mountains and romantic scenery. In this valley is the famous yew tree immortalised by Wordsworth. The tree is of an age which would be difficult to compute, but judging from the thickness of the trunk it must be several hundred years. It is thus described in the beautiful lines of Wordsworth:

"There is a yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore.
Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands
Of Umfraville or Percy, ere they march'd
To Scotland's heaths; or those that crossed the sea,
Perhaps at earlier Cressy or Poictiers.
Of vast circumference and gloom profound,
This solitary tree ! - a living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed."

The air of this parish appears to he particularly conducive to longevity, as is shown by the ages engraven on the tombstones in the churchyard; one of them for instance bearing the following inscriptions:- "In memory of Wm. Jennings, of High Lorton, who died March 4th, 1848, aged 97 years, and Elizabeth, his wife, who died April, 1830, aged 83 years, also of their family, John Jennings, of the Scales, who died April 16th, 1876, aged 93 years, Peter Jennings, who died May 5th, 1876, aged 94 years.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman