Is a small parish of 2,877 acres, in Leath ward and petty sessional division; the rural deanery of Penrith East; the county council electoral division of Edenhall; and the poor law union, rural and county court districts of Penrith. The gross estimated rental is £3,349 15s., the ratable value of the land, £2,389; and of the buildings, £665 10s. The population in 1891 numbered 286. The village is large and irregularly built, on both sides of a small rivulet, 3½ miles N. of Temple Sowerby, and seven miles E. by N. of Penrith. The manor was part of the barony of Fitz-Swein, and has been held by the families of Spigurnell, Fitzwalter, Lancaster, Crackanthorpe, Hutton, and Middleton. In 1606 it was purchased by Agnes, widow of William Fleming, Esq., whose descendant, Sir Michael Le Fleming, enfranchised the tenants. It is now owned by Stanley H. Le Fleming. Skirwith Hall, the ancient manorial residence, was taken down in 1795, and a farmhouse built on the site. Skirwith Abbey, the residence of J.J. Owen, Esq., and the property of E.W. Parker, Esq., J.P., is a modern mansion, built, according to tradition, on or near the site of a religious house, supposed to have belonged to the Knights Templars. It was formerly in the possession of the Aglionby's, of Nunnery, from whom it was purchased, in 1822, by the late W. Parker, Esq. The principal landowners are Stanley H. Le Fleming, Rydal Hall; Montague Crackanthorpe, Esq., Newbiggin Hall; E.W. Parker, Esq.; J. and J. Bellas, Causeway Foot, Keswick; the Exors. of J.H. Jackson, J.W. Robinson, Jonathan Sanderson, James Walker, the Misses Hutchinson, and John Nelson.
The Church, which has been the theme of universal admiration, was founded and endowed by the late W. Parker, Esq., and completed by his successor, the Rev. Christopher Parker. It is a beautiful building, in the Decorated Gothic style of the 14th century, consisting of nave, south aisle, chancel, tower, and spire. It is built of stone from a local quarry, laid in even courses, and axe-dressed on the face, with Lazonby stone for all the dressings, windows, doors, internal columns and arches, and other details. The spire also is carried up in this stone, and has been built low to avoid the too great action of the winds, known in this neighbourhood as the Helm winds. The interior fittings are all characterised by their chasteness; the pulpit rests upon a base of Caen stone, with marble shafts, and carved capitals. The font is also of Caen stone, with wainscot crocketted cover. Steps of Kilkenny marble lead into the chancel, the floor of which is laid with Minto's encaustic tiles. This part is fitted with stalls, on which some elaborate carving has been bestowed. The windows are all filled with stained glass, many of them bearing Scriptural illustrations. The east window, a beautiful conception of the words, "Suffer little children to come unto Me," is a memorial to the benevolent founder of the church, inserted by the Rev. C. Parker. The walls of the chancel are chastely decorated, and scroll work bearing appropriate texts of Scripture adorn other parts of the edifice. The church will accommodate 200 persons, and has cost, including house and endowment, about £9,000. It is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, and was consecrated by the Bishop of Carlisle on the 25th August, 1859. A district of 2,874 acres was allotted to it, and in 1869 the benefice was constituted a vicarage, with all parochial privileges attached. The living, worth £120, is in the gift of E.W. Parker, Esq., and the incumbency of the Rev. Charles H. Wallis, M.A. The vicarage is a neat mansion, a short distance from the church.
The School is a good stone building, erected in 1878, at a cost, inclusive of residence, of £1,600, part of which was raised by subscription, and the remainder from the endowment of the old school, which was capitalised and applied in the erection of the new premises. In 1891 a class-room was added, at an outlay of £250. Average attendance, 70 (mixed).
The Wesleyans have a chapel here, a neat stone building, erected in 1868, at a cost of £560. It will accommodate 250 persons. The east window is filled with stained glass. The old chapel is now used as a Sunday school. There is also in the village a Reading Room and Library, supported by subscriptions and voluntary contributions.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman