Plumbland

Adjoins the parishes of Gilcrux, Aspatria, and Torpenhow; and comprises an area of 2,498 acres; ratable value, 4,195 10s.; gross rental, 4,835. The population at the beginning of the last century, was 330, in 1881 it was 650, and at the present time is about 670. Plumbland lies in Derwent ward and petty sessional division; the county council electoral division of Bridekirk; the county court district of Cockermouth and Workington; the union and rural district of Cockermouth; and the deanery of Maryport. Both coal and carboniferous or mountain limestone are found in the parish. The lime works, which formerly gave employment to a number of hands, are now in disuse. The coal measures occupy the northern part, and were at one time worked on a large scale. The two principal seams were those known as the "Metal band" and the "Thirty-inch band ;" but these have been exhausted, and the remaining seams are not of sufficient thickness for profitable working. The inhabitants, however, find employment in the neighbouring collieries. The soil throughout the parish is of good quality, and has been much improved by cultivation. The parish of Plumbland was once remarkable for the longevity of its inhabitants, and there are even now instances of individuals reaching a good old age. The physical features of the district remain the same, and the air is as invigorating and health-giving as in the past, but the conditions of life have changed. The influx of so many miners and higher wages have led them to abandon the simple lives of their fathers, for a more luxurious and less temperate mode of living. The principal landowners are :- Exors. of L.F.B. Dykes, Esq., Dovenby Hall; Mrs. Thirlwall, Plumbland House; Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Brayton Hall; Joseph Harris, Esq., Calthwaite Hall; Mrs. E. Hodgson, Rev. E.H. Curwen (glebe), J.M. Strong, Joseph Jackson, and G.A. Walker.

The parish consists of four manors, each having its own little village or hamlet. That of Plumbland formerly belonged to the Orfeur family, who are recorded as being in possession as early as the reign of Edward II. This family continued to hold it until the 18th century, when it was sold by Charles Orfew, Esq., to Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bart., in whose family it still remains. The manor has since been enfranchised, but the demesne land, called High Close, with the ancient manor house, is still retained in the family. A rent called was cornage was formerly paid by the tenants, and about 60 years ago an attempt was made by the lord of the manor to revive it. The tenants resisted the claim, urging its non-collection for a number of years was a bar to its re-imposition, and were successful.

Near Ewe Close, on Ward Hill, are the remains of what is called a Roman camp, and in later times watch and ward (guard) were kept here, and signals given by beacon fires in case of danger.

The Manor of Arkleby was held in ancient times by a family bearing the local name. From the Arklebys it passed to the Martindales, in whose possession it continued until the reign of Elizabeth, when the head of the house, Roger de Martindale, having joined in the insurrection of the northern earls, in favour of Mary, Queen of Scots, the manor was forfeited to the Crown. Elizabeth granted it to Sir John Penruddock. It subsequently passed through several families, and was at last purchased by Sir Wilfrid Lawson, and is now the property of his representative.

Parsonby Manor, as the name signifies, is held by the rector, for the time being. Warthole, Wardale, or Wardhall is an estate or manor granted by one of its early possessors to the Monks of Calder. After the suppression of monastic houses, it came to the Dykes' family, and has since been held by them. For many generations Ward Hall was their residence, but after their removal to Dovenby Hall, Warthole fell to decay, and now a couple of cottages and all old building are all that remain. Near the cottages is an old mulberry tree, fenced round with a wooden pailing to prolong its waning years. Here Thomas Dykes, a devoted Royalist, secreted himself after the defeat of his party at the battle of Marston Moor, when the adherents of Charles were everywhere hunted down by the soldiers of Cromwell. The hidden Royalist was regularly fed by his wife and daughter, who brought food from the hall; but, though he escaped for the time, he afterwards fell into the hands of the Cromwellians, and was imprisoned in
Cockermouth Castle, where he died. He was offered his liberty and the restoration of his property, if he would become a traitor to his King by joining the Parliamentarians, but his reply was :- "Prius frangitur quam flectitur'' (Rather break than bend), which has since been adopted as the family motto.

A tradition, related by Hutchinson in his History of Cumberland, tells us that one of the owners of Wardhall was An enthusiastic card player. Having on one occasion played high and lost heavily, in his desperation, he staked the Wardhall estate on a single game of "Put". The game ran nearly to the concluding deal, so goes the story, when he exclaimed :-

Up now with a deuce or else a tray,
Or Warthell's gone for ever and aye.

The cards turning up according to his wishes, he saved the estate.To perpetuate the memory of this fortunate deal, he had the duce and tray cut in stone.

The Church. - The situation of the church is somewhat anomalous since it stands in one township and takes its name from another. This circumstance has given rise to the following well-known distich :-

The greatest wonder ever was seen
Is Plumbland Church on Parsonby Green.

It is dedicated to St. Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, who, like Kentigern of Scottish fame, is the patron saint of many northern churches. The building is a mixture of the Norman and Gothic style, and consists of chancel, nave, north and south-aisles, and an organ chamber separated from the chancel by a Gothic arch. The chancel arch is Norman. The church contains some fine stained-glass windows, one in the chancel containing five lights, to the memory of the Dykes' family is particularly beautiful. Others, are in memory of members of the Yeoward, Thirlwall, Bird, Hodgson, and Ritson families. In the north wall of the organ-chamber is one of three lights, representing St. Cuthbert and St. Bede, with a knight in armour in the centre, with the following inscription, - "This window was placed by Henry Curwen, of Workington Hall, to the memory of his father, Edward Stanley Curwen, 1878." The living is a rectory worth 381, in the patronage of H.F. Curwen, Esq., and the incumbency of his cousin, the Rev. Edward Hazell Curwen, D.C.L. The tithes were commuted about the year 1853 for 123; but the High Close, Arkleby Hall, and Warthole estates only paid a small modus, and have continued to do so. The rectory was erected by the Rev. John Bird in 1788.

The Grammar School of Plumbland was founded by Captain John Sibson, who, in 1759, bequeathed to it a sum of money, which is invested in the funds, and now produces a little over 70 a year; 4 of which goes to poor widows, six guineas to the clerk of the governors, and the rest to the school. The bequest was not to take place till after the death of his wife, which occurred in 1797, and in 1799 the school was built. All children, with some specified exceptions, and all children who bear the name of Sibson, wherever they come from, have the liberty of attending this school, and being instructed in Latin and English, in writing and accounts, without any charges or expenses whatever.'' The school is under the management of eight governors, three ex-officio, four representative, and one appointed by the County Council. The school is entirely free. The village of Plumbland is about seven miles E. by N. of Maryport, and here the Congregationalists have a small chapel, erected in 1842, capable of seating about 150 persons. Parsonby lies contiguous to Plumbland, Arkley [sic] a short distance to the north, and Warthole to the west.

The parish is bounded on the east by a small stream called the Popple. In its short course of five miles it encounters the mountain limestone, through which it has formed for itself a subterranean passage, a mile in length, and emerges on the other side largely increased in volume. Tradition says this stream ran blood on the day Charles I was beheaded - a belief which is not even yet extinct.

THE DYKES FAMILY. - This family appears to have been at an early period located near the Great Roman Wall, or Dyke, which crossed the country from the mouth of the Tyne to the Solway Firth; and from this circumstance they were named Del Dykes, and their abode was called Dykesfield. They are said to have been seated here before the Norman Conquest. A branch of the family at an early period removed into Sussex, and another was settled in Kent. The earliest portion of the line is lost in the mists of antiquity. A charter without date, but supposed to be of the time of Henry III or Edward I, notifies the fact that Robert del Dykes conveyed some land which he possessed at Burgh, to one William del Monkys. The first name on the unbroken genealogical roll is that of William del Dykes, who lived about the time of Edward I. This family name descended through the six succeeding generations. William del Dykes, the sixth of the name, represented the county in Parliament, in the reign of Henry VI. He received the manor and lands at Wardhall (still in the family) from one Robert Whitehede. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William de Leigh, of Isel, who claimed her descent from Emma, sister to William the Conqueror, and Harlowen de Conteville, or de Burgo, who could trace his pedigree in the direct male line to Charles, Duke of Ingleheim, fifth son of Charlemagne. He was succeeded by his son, William Dykes, of Wardhall, who married Christiana, daughter of Sir Richard Salkeld, of Corby. Thomas Dykes, of Wardhall, his son, lived in the reign of Henry VII, and married Isabel, only child and heiress of John Pennington, Esq., of Muncaster Castle, son and heir of Sir John Pennington. His son, Leonard Dykes, succeeded, and had by his wife, a daughter of John Layton, Esq., of Dalemayne, a son Thomas, who succeeded him, and was
escheator of Westmorland, in the time of Queen Elizabeth. His wife was Jane, daughter of Lancelot Lancaster, Esq., of Sockbridge, who was descended from Ivo de Tailbois, first baron of Kendal, and uncle of Geoffrey Plantagenet, father of Henry II. Leonard Dykes married Elizabeth Anne, heiress of Thomas Radcliffe, Esq., of Mayland and Bishopton, in Durham, for which he was arraigned for treason, she being at the time a minor and a ward in Chancery. He received a pardon, under the great seal, which is still preserved among the family papers. He was sheriff of Cumberland, and held the office of treasurer to the king's forces for the county. He married a second time Margaret, daughter and co-heir of John Frecheville, of Staveley. His son, Thomas, by the first wife, succeeded. He was a devoted royalist. We have spoken elsewhere of his escape from the Cromwellian soldiers, by hiding in a mulberry tree. He married Joyce Frecheville, daughter and co-heir of John Frecheville. This lady was descended in a
direct line from the Conqueror. His second wife was Jane, daughter of Ralph de la Vale, Esq. Leonard Dykes succeeded his father, in the reign of Charles II, and married Grace, daughter of John Salkeld, of Threapland, who also traced her descent from the Conqueror. He was twice sheriff of the county, and rebuilt his mansion with an ornamental stone front, designed of Inigo Jones, architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Frecheville Dykes, his son and heir, married, in 1697, Jane, sister of Gilfrid Lawson, and was succeeded in the estates by his son, Leonard Dykes, who married, in 1728, Susannah, only surviving child of the Rev. Thomas Capstack, vicar of Newburn. Their eldest son, Frecheville Dykes, of Wardhall, companion in arms of General Wolfe, married, in 1763, Mary, daughter of John Brougham, Esq., of Cockermouth, and also heiress of her brother, Peter Brougham, of Dovenby, who assumed the name and arms of Lamplugh. There was only one surviving child of this marriage, Mary, consequently her uncle, the younger brother of her father, inherited the estates. His wife, Jane, was the daughter and heiress of John Ballantine, Esq., of Crookdake Hall, and he took the name and arms of Ballantine, in addition to his own, by sign manual. Their eldest son and successor, Joseph Dykes Ballantine, Esq., married his cousin, Mary, only surviving child of Frecheville Dykes, as before mentioned, and assumed again the name of Dykes by sign manual. The Trustees of L.F.B. Dykes, Esq., Dovenby Hall, are now the representatives.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman