Torpenhow and Whitrigg

Form a joint civil parish, lying on the south side of the river Ellen, comprised within the ward and petty sessional division of Allerdale-below-Derwent; the deanery of Maryport; the poor law union, rural and county court districts of Wigton; and the county council electoral division of Caldbeck. The soil in general produces good crops of wheat, oats, barley, &c. The parish covers an area of 2,661 acres, which are assessed at 2,441, and has a population of 290.

The Manor of Torpenhow, at the Conquest, appears to have been a demesne of the barony of Allerdale; but soon after that event it was given by Alan, son of Waltheof, in marriage with his sister to Ughtred, son of Fergus, lord of Galloway. The manor was afterwards held successively by the de Valonais, Stutvilles, Mulcasters, Tilliols, Moresbys, and the Colvilles, from whom it passed by purchase to Sir George Fletcher and Thomas Salkeld, Esq., the latter having for his moiety the customary lands, the park, and mill. Henry Salkeld, Esq., dying without issue, a long chancery suit resulted, when it was at length awarded to the Charltons, of Hesleyside, who claimed their descent from a daughter of Francis Salkeld, Esq. W.J. Charlton, Esq., is now lord of the manor, but he does not own any land in the parish of Torpenhow. The principal proprietors are The Countess Ossalinski, Bedford; E.H. Railton, Esq., Rev. C.H Gem, John N. Sisson, T. Watson, J.E. Thornburn, Mrs. Elizabeth Thirlwall, Mrs. Mary Fawcett, John Southward, Miss J. Plaskett, A.E. Burdon, William Parkin-Moore, Messrs. Hayton, John Parkin, and Mark Pearson.

The village of Torpenhow occupies a pleasant situation a short distance from the Cockermouth road, about seven miles S.S.W. of Wigton, and 8 miles N. by E. of Cockermouth. Every syllable of its name had the same meaning in the several languages of the people who inhabited these parts. The Britons called it Pen, i.e., head or rising hill, the Saxons, who next succeeded, called it Tor-pen, that is, the pinnacle head; and their successors, not understanding perhaps either of the former names, denominated it Tor-pen-how, that is, the how, or hill Torpen. Others suppose it took its name from the Saxon word Dorp, or Thorp, a village, and the British word Pen, a head or hill top, and hence Dorpen-how, the town hill. Others again suggest that the name is derived from Turpin, an old Norse worthy, and How hill, Turpin's hill.

The Church, dedicated to St. Michael, is an ancient structure, containing some good specimens of Norman architecture. It underwent thorough restoration in 1882, at a cost of 900, but all the time-honoured features of the old edifice have been preserved with religious care. In carrying out the work of restoration, several interesting discoveries were made. The removal of the plaster which covered the walls enables us to assign the period at which different portions of the church had been erected. The first wall of the church was built of small square stones taken from the Roman camp, and in the jamb of the north-east chancel window may be seen a stone still bearing its Roman carving. The old piscina, with its curious decoration, has been brought to light. Some additions appear to have been made about the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). At the juncture of the chancel and nave was a small chantry chapel, cut out of the solid wall. The choir seats of the chancel are of beautifully-carved oak, and oaken benches have displaced the unsightly old pews of the nave. The work of restoration has been most efficiently carried out by Mr. Foster, of Wigton, under the supervision of Mr. Cory, architect, Carlisle. The floor is formed of deal parquetry, resting on a bed of concrete. In the chancel is a stained glass memorial window to the Moore family. It consists of three lights; in the centre is a representation of the Crucifixion, and in the two side lights the Blessed Virgin and the beloved Apostle. The west window is a memorial to H. Railton, Esq., and his youngest son. It is of two lights, representing Faith and Hope. The chancel contains a fine organ, built by Halinshaw, of Birmingham.

The church of Torpenhow was given by Sabilla de Valonois and Eustachius Estoteville to the prioress and convent of Rossdale, in Cleveland ; and, in an award made in 1290 by Bishop Irton, the glebe, &c., of Torpenhow, together with the great tithes of Torpenhow, Threapland, Aldersceugh, Applewray, Snittlegarth, Bellasis, and Bewaldeth were assigned to the vicar for the maintenance of three priests and one sub-deacon, who should assist him in his ministerial duties, and say mass daily for the prosperity of the Bishop and his successors, and for the dead. It is valued in the King's Books at 33 4s. 10d. At the enclosure, which was made in 1808, about 650 acres were allotted in lieu of all tithes; those of Torpenhow and Bewaldeth townships belong entirely to the vicar, for which he has about 329 acres, viz., 240 for the former, and about 80 for the latter. He has also 42 acres for the tithes of Bothel, and 25 for those of Blennerhasset; the great tithes of the former belong to Mr. Charlton, for which he received 80 acres; and for the tithes of Threapland 205 acres have been awarded. The living, valued at 210 a year, is in the patronage of the Bishop of Carlisle, and is now held by the Rev. O.H. Gem, B.A., Oxon.

The Memorial Sunday School, erected in 1855 by the late Joseph Railton, Esq., was in 1895 handed over to the school managers by his grandson. The building was added to by a voluntary rate, and is now used as a National School; it is mixed, and has about 52 names on the registers. The Mission Hall is used for religious services by members of the Dissenting body. The Jubilee Water Works were built by subscriptions raised in 1887, as a memorial of the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria, and the village is now supplied by a constant flow of pure water, at a cost of 112. The trust is under the management of the tenants of certain farms.

Whitrigg or Whiterigg, said to have been "so called of the waste ground there fashioned like a corn rigg," is a village and joint township with Torpenhow, from which it is distant one mile. The principal landowner is E.H. Railton, Esq., but Sir Wilfrid Lawson is lord of the manor, which was anciently held by the Brunes, and afterwards by the Skeltons of Armathwaite. Caer Mote, a rocky hill 900 feet high, is in this township. On the summit are the remains of a British camp; and on the northern extremity of the hill are vestiges of a beacon and a smaller encampment, surrounded by a fosse and rampart. The position of this camp and beacon is remarkably well chosen for military purposes. The fort commands a view of Blatum Burgii (Bowness), and Oleanum (Old Carlisle), and of the whole extent of Solway Firth, so that it "would receive the first notice from any frontier town, where the Caledonians made the attempt to cross the Firth, or had actually broken in upon the province."

BLENNERHASSET AND KIRKLAND, formerly a township in the parish of Torpenhow, have in accordance with the Local Government Act of 1894 been constituted a distinct parish for all civil purposes, but ecclesiastically they remain united with the above mentioned parish. It is comprised within Allerdale-below-Derwent ward and petty sessional division; Wigton poor law union; rural, and county court districts, and the county council electoral division of Aspatria. Within the limits of the parish 1,233 acres are embraced, which are assessed for rating purposes at 2,149,and have a gross rental of 2,434. The population in 1891 numbered 500. The commons were enclosed in 1807.

The Manor was given by Alan, lord of Allerdale, to his brother-in-law, Ranulph de Lindesey, from which family it came by inheritance to the Mulcasters. The marriage of the daughter and heiress of Robert de Mulcaster to Geoffrey Tilliol, brought the manor into that family, in which it continued for five generations, when it passed to the Moresbys by marriage with the heiress. The last of this name who held it was Sir Christopher Moresby, whose daughter conveyed it to Sir James Pickering, Knight. Subsequently an heiress of this family sold the manor to Thomas Salkeld, of Whitehall, to be held in capite by the service of the third part of a knight's fee, 12s. cornage, 6d. seawake, and puture. The manor of Blennerhasset has passed with Whitehall, and is now held by W.H. Charlton, Esq., of Hesleyside, Northumberland. The principal landowners of the parish are Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bart., Joseph Cape, Trustees of William Fletcher; Pattinson Hayton and family, J.J. Mitchell, Wm. Parkin-Moore, and John Parkin.

The village of that name stands on the banks of the river Ellen, 7 miles S.W. of Wigton. The Independent Chapel here was erected in 1828, at a cost of 240, and was re-seated some years ago, at the expense of the Rev. Mr. Robinson. The school is now under the School Board, and has an average attendance of 110 (mixed). The Reading Room and Library, containing 250 volumes, was built by Sir W. Lawson in 1890, and is let by him at the nominal rent of 2 per year.

The Manor of Kirkland, as the name signifies, was one of the possessions of the church, and, previous to the suppression of religious houses, was held by the prioress and convent of Rossdale. After the Dissolution it was granted to the Salkeld family, from whom it has descended to W.H. Charlton, Esq. It was let on lease for 999 years by Lancelot Salkeld, father of Sir Francis, for 6 15s. 1d. per annum; each tenant being subject every 21 years to a 20d. fine, called a gressom, on which new leases are taken, and a heriot on change by death, either of tenant or lord.

Mr. J.W. Hall, of Kirkland Guards, was successful in obtaining a first prize at the Royal Show at Birmingham (1898) for pen of three Border Leicester shearling ewes; also second for Border Leicester two-shear ram. He was also awarded a second and third at the Leicester meeting in 1896, and seven firsts at Carlisle in 1895.

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Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman