This parish embraces the district lying between the rivulets Croglin and Ravensbeck, and extends from east to west a distance of about four miles, and from north to south about two miles. It contains 4,300 acres, and is comprised within Leath ward; the union and rural district of Penrith; the electoral division of Kirkoswald; the deanery of Penrith E.; and the petty sessional division of Leath ward. The population in 1891 numbered 242. The soil is mostly of a gravelly nature, and, considering its proximity to the fells, rather fertile. The commons were enclosed pursuant to an Act of Parliament passed in 1814, when an allotment was made to Mr. W. Lawson, in lieu of tithes.

The first recorded possessors of the manor were the Staveleys, to whom it was granted by Henry I. This family became extinct in the reign of Edward I, and we next find Renwick among the possessions forfeited by Andrew de Hercla, Earl of Carlisle, by his rebellion and consequent attainder. It was given by Edward III to Robert Eaglesfield, Queen Phillipa's confessor, and founder of Queen's College, Oxford, who, in the year 1341, settled it upon his newly-founded college. The manor is co-extensive with the parish, and is held partly on freehold and partly on customary tenure; the tenants of the latter pay an annual customary rent, and a twelve-penny fine upon change of tenant, as settled by indenture made in 1644, wherein it was also agreed that "the tenants do scour and cleanse the watercourse to the lord's mill, from the bottom up to the mill trough-head, and maintain the said mill with wall and thatch, and bring the millstones to the same, and grind their corn thereat, paying a twenty-fourth mulcture; and that they shall cut down no timber trees, except what shall be set out to them by the steward for the necessary repairs of their houses." The landowners in this parish formerly paid a prescription in lieu of tithes, excepting the owners of one estate at Scalehouses, long held by the Tallantire family, who claimed exemption on account of an ancient owner having slain a cockatrice at some remote period.*

The principal landowners are the Trustees of Queen's College, Oxford, lords of the manor, who hold a court baron annually; William Salkeld, Esq., Ravenwood; Messrs. Harrison Bros., Orthwaite; George Armstrong, Carlisle; William Greenop, Renwick; Joseph Parker, Carlisle; John T. Duers; George A. Monkhouse; Mrs. H.G. Wells; William Parkin; J. Dixon; William Duers, Croglin; and Francis Mason, Sickergill.

The village of Renwick is situated on the west side of Thackmoor Fell, three miles E.N.E. of Kirkoswald. Its name is a contraction of Ravenswick, and was so called from its position near the banks of the Raven beck.

The Church, dedicated to All Saints, is a neat structure in the Norman style, rebuilt in 1733, at the expense of the parishioners; and again in 1845, at a cost of 480, raised by voluntary subscription, aided by a grant of 40 from the Society for Building and Enlarging Churches. Further improvements were effected in 1880, at a cost of 150. The chancel windows, which are filled with moulded stained-glass, are much admired. In the vestry stands an old bell, on which is the inscription AVE SANCTA MARIA (Hail Holy Mary), from which we infer that it dates from a time anterior to the Reformation. The living was possessed of rectorial privileges until its appropriation to the Priory of St. Mary, York. Previous to this appropriation it is said to have been granted to the Abbey of Hexham, but this we conceive is open to grave doubt. Queen Elizabeth, in the 20th year of her reign, granted to the Earl of Lincoln and Christopher Gowffe, gentleman, the Church of Renwick with its appurtenances, excepting the advowson, bells, and lead, to be held by them and their heirs, as of the manor of East Greenwich by fealty only, in free socage, and not in capite, at a yearly rent of 13s. 4d. From the grantees, the rectory and tithes were conveyed in parcels. The benefice was certified to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 4. From this fund a grant of 600 was received, and 200 from the Countess Dowager Gower, with which lands were purchased in the parishes of Addingham and Ainstable. The living, now worth 125, derived almost entirely from glebe land, is in the patronage of W. Salkeld, Esq. The Rev. A.S. Bannatyne, M.A., is the present vicar. The tithes valued at 27, are leased by A.C. Aglionby, Esq., and others. The register dates from 1600. There is preserved in the church a silver chalice or cup, supposed to be over 200 years old.

The Vicarage-house was erected in 1868, at a cost of 1,200, which was raised by subscription, and a grant from Queen Anne's Bounty Fund.

The old parish school, erected in 1838, has been superseded by one built by the School Board in 1876, at a cost of 800. It has accommodation for 84 children and an average attendance of 70.

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built by subscription in 1818, and repaired and a Sunday school added in 1863. It is endowed with the interest of 100 left by the late Richard Sowerby, Esq., which is used for repairs, etc.

Scale Houses is a hamlet in this parish, four miles N.E. of Kirkoswald.

* The Renwick bat or cockatrice, vulgarly called crack-a-christ, is founded on the following tradition:- " When pulling down the old church of Renwick, the people were startled by a hideous monster which flew amongst the ruins. Being filled with terror they abandoned the work, but one more courageous than the rest - John Tallantire - armed himself with a rowantree bough, led his retreating neighbours to combat, and succeeded in destroying the monster. For this act his estate was enfranchised to him and his heirs for ever. Record dated 7 James I. From this incident the parishioners are styled 'Renwick Bats.'"



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman