This parish, formerly a chapelry and township in Greystoke, embraces a district containing 5,955 acres, lying on the east side of Keswick, and having Saddleback for its northern limit. It is said to be the oldest in the diocese of Carlisle, but the date of its formation has not been ascertained with certainty.

The parish contains about 2,098 acres of ratable land, assessed at 2,788, and has a population of about 500. It is comprised within Leath ward; the county council electoral division of Greystoke; the poor law union, rural, and county court districts of Penrith; and the petty sessional division and rural deanery of Keswick. Syenitic granite is abundant, and is extensively quarried by the Threlkeld Granite Company. These quarries were opened more than twenty years ago by Mr. H.H. Harkwitz, and the business formed into a Limited Liability Company, in 1892. The material is in great demand for setts, kerbing, and chanelling, and on account of its great toughness and durability, is one of the best road making metals. The company also manufacture granite concrete flags, the output of which is about 160,000 yards, and of granite macadam, over 100,000 tons per annum. Close to the works is a school, known as the Granite Quarry School, entirely supported by that company. It was opened in 1897, and is attended by about 58 children, ably taught by the mistress, Mrs. A.J. Savill. Ores of lead and zinc are worked by the Threlkeld Mining Company, who have recently made considerable extensions in the mines. From 50 to 60 tons of lead ore are raised per month, and from 80 to 100 tons of blende (zinc). About 100 people are employed.

The manor of Threlkeld belonged, at an early period, to a family who assumed the local name. It subsequently passed by marriage to the Pickerings. The hall and demesne appear to have been severed from the manor, and carried in marriage to the Irton and Spedding families in succession, by the latter of whom it was sold to the Duke of Norfolk. The manor came into the possession of the Lowther family by purchase previous to 1632, and in 1635 the tenants were released from their servile tenure for the sum of 1,360. The Earl of Lonsdale is lord of the manor, but H.C. Howard, Esq., as owner of the hall and demesne, possesses the manorial rights of that estate, to which boon service is still paid. The land is customary (fourpence fine being paid on the death of the lord or tenant) and is owned chiefly by the Earl of Lonsdale, John Crozier, Esq., Riddings; Mr. W. Sawyer, W. Rothery, Esq., Henry Robinson, and J. M. Moorsom.

The village of Threlkeld is about 4 miles E. by N. of Keswick, with which it is connected by rail.

The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, in honour of whom one of the bells in the tower is inscribed, "Ave Maria gratia plena," i.e., Hail Mary full of grace. The date of foundation is not known, but it was anterior to 1341, in which year a dispute arose respecting the nomination of the curate. The old thatched church was taken down and rebuilt by subscription, in 1776, one of the principal subscribers being Raisley Calvert, of Wallthwaite, Wordsworth's early patron. An old chain Bible, bearing the date 1613, formerly in use in the church, is in the possession of J. Crozier, Esq. A very singular custom once prevailed in the chapelry, as will be seen by the following extract from the register, which commences in 1573:- Formal contracts of marriage are herein recorded, and sureties entered for the payment of five shillings to the poor by the party that draws back." The living in 1720 was certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 8 16s. 6d.; and in 1747 an augmentation of 200 was received, with which land near Kendal. was purchased. Other grants have since been received which have increased the value of the living to 150 a year. The incumbency was held from 1705 to 1858 by the Revs. Alexander Naughley, Thomas Edmondson, and Thomas Collinson, an average of 50 years each. The present vicar, the Rev. J.O. Crosse, was inducted in 1896. It is again proposed to rebuild the church, and the necessary funds are being raised by subscriptions. The Parsonage-house is an ornamental square building, erected in 1857, at a cost of 400, exclusive of the site.

The school was built in 1849, by the Rev. A.E. Hulton, and is endowed with 6 a year. It was enlarged by a classroom in 1879, and is now attended by about 114 children. The master's residence was erected in 1894, by Mr. Crozier, as a memorial to his wife.

The Wesleyans have a chapel at Scales, capable of accommodating 80 persons. It was erected in 1842 upon a plot of land given by Mr. Joseph Herd, and cost about 100.

On Threlkeld Knotts are the remains of what appears to have been an extensive walled village and burial ground.

CHARITIES. - In 1744, a messuage, tenement, croft, and several closes of land situated at Towngate, were purchased with 105, public money, nearly one-half being poor stock, and the remainder, "school stock, church stock, and parson's stock." The rents are applied to the relief of the poor, the support of the school, and the repairs of the church. The Rev. O. Cockbain left 50 in 1844, the interest of which to be expanded in the purchase of bibles and prayer books.

Wescow and Scales are two hamlets in the parish. Threlkeld hall, the ancient manorial residence, has long been in a state of dilapidation. The hall has fallen from its high estate, and now fulfils the humble purposes of a farmstead, but with it is connected one of the most interesting and beautiful episodes in the traditionary lore of the north. The incident occurred during that unhappy period of England's history, when her nobility and gentry were arrayed in opposing factions, distinguished as Yorkists and Lancastrians, after the rival families who were fighting for the crown. The Cliffords, barons of Westmorland, had espoused the cause of the House of Lancaster, and Thomas, eighth Baron Clifford, fell with the red rose (the Lancastrian emblem) in his cap at the battle of St. Albans. His son John, named the Black-faced Clifford from his fierce disposition, meeting the youthful Earl of Rutland, brother of Edward IV who was being led away for safety by his tutor and chaplain from the battle of Wakefield, stabbed him to the heart, bidding the priest "go and tell the boy's mother." Retribution soon followed the inhuman act. Three months afterwards he was slain at the battle of Towton, where the fortunes of the Red Rose were crushed for a time, and the house of Clifford utterly ruined. The lands of the family were seized by the Crown, and the widow, in mortal dread lest her two boys should be sacrificed in vengeance by the victorious Yorkists, sent the younger one into the Netherlands, where he died, and the elder one, a boy seven years old, she delivered over to a shepherd on her father's estate at Londesborough, in Yorkshire, where the young lord was brought up among the moors and hills as one of the shepherd's own children.

Lady Clifford afterwards married Sir Lancelot Threlkeld, a kind-hearted man, and withal a Yorkist. When the boy was about fourteen years of age, the noble lineage of the young shepherd oozed out, and a rumour reached the Court that the son of the Black-faced Clifford was living in concealment in Yorkshire. His mother, alarmed for her son's safety, had him removed to the vicinity of Threlkeld, where he herded the sheep on the fells of Cumberland. The battle of Bosworth Field decided the fortunes of the Red Rose, and Henry VII was not slow to reward those who had supported the House of Lancaster. The lands of the Cliffords were restored, and the shepherd lord took possession of his ancestral home. Wordsworth has made this incident the subject of a poem, "Song of the Feast at Brougham Castle," and he also alludes to it in his poem of the Waggoner:-

And see beyond that hamlet small,
The ruined towers of Threlkeld Hall,
Lurking in a double shade.
By trees and lingering twilight made!
There at Blencathara's rugged feet,
Sir Lancelot gave a safe retreat
To noble Clifford; from annoy
Concealed the persecuted boy.
Well pleased in rustic garb to feed
His flock, and pipe on shepherd's reed,
Among this multitude of hills,
Crags, woodlands, waterfalls, and rills.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman