This is a parish in Allerdale-below-Derwent ward and petty sessional division; and the deanery, poor law union, rural and county districts of Wigton; and the county council electoral division of its own name. It is bounded on the north by Thursby, on the east by Sebergham and Dalston, on the west by Wigton, and on the south by Boltons and Caldbeck parishes, and is about six miles in length, from north to south, and five in breadth, from east to west. The soil, which is in a high state of cultivation, consists chiefly of a strong fertile clay, with a portion of sand, in Woodside quarter, and produces excellent crops of wheat, oats, etc., except towards the south and south-east parts, where it is rather cold and wet. The higher ground abounds with limestone; and the Shawk and Howrigg quarries have long been noted for the production of red and white freestone, slate flags, etc., esteemed the best in Cumberland. Here are also seams of cannel and other coal; but these minerals have not been wrought for many years. Westward is divided into four townships, viz.: Stoneraise, Woodside, Rosley, and Brocklebank, whose united area is 12,991 acres. It has neither township nor village of its own name. The parish is rated to the poor at £11,415. Its population at the last census was 1,052.

The Manor, which comprises the whole parish, was, at the period of the Norman Conquest, forest ground in Allerdale, and was given by Alan, second lord of Allerdale, to Henry II. The king annexed it to his royal forest of Inglewood, and, as it formed the western ward of the forester's charge within the forest, it received the name of Westward.* It continued to be held by the crown till 1344, when Edward III granted it to Thomas Lucy, on his marriage with the King's cousin. Their daughter and last surviving heir conveyed the estate to her husband, Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland. Westward was a portion of the grant of the sixth earl to Henry VIII, as stated in the account of the parish of Uldale. Queen Mary re-conveyed these possessions to Thomas Percy, brother of the sixth earl; but on his attainder, in the reign of Elizabeth, for an abortive attempt at insurrection in favour of the old religion, they reverted to the Crown. The title and estates were transferred to the brother of the attainted earl, and this manor has descended through the earls of Egremont to Lord Leconfield, the present owner. The other chief landowners are Sir Musgrave Brisco, E.H. Banks; Messrs. Hill, Shaw, and Webster, of the Wigton Hall Estate; Colonel Aglionby, and Mrs. Jefferson.


The area, ratable value, and population are included in the parish returns. The township has no village of its own name, though it is the largest and most fertile division of the parish.

Stoneraise township contains the hamlets of Church Hill, Foresterfold, Red Dial, and Warblebank, with several dispersed and pleasantly situated dwellings, bearing different names, among which are Greenhill House, the residence of A. Dudding, Esq., Forest Hall, Rays Lodge, Stoneraise Place, Greenrigg, Cunning Garth (i.e., A.S. Cyning Garth, or King's Garth), Westward Park, &c.

The Church is located on an elevated piece of ground overlooking a deep ravine in the hamlet of Church Hill, in this township, and three miles S. of Wigton. In early Norman times some hermit or recluse appears to have taken up his abode in this part of the forest of Allerdale, and dedicated his cell to St. Hilda. King John gave the hermitage to the monks of Holme Cultram, who erected a chapel or oratory in the neighbourhood, which, in process of time, became possessed of parochial privileges. This is supposed to have been the origin of Westward church. The forest of Inglewood does not appear to have been allocated to any of the parishes that surrounded it; and as early as the reign of Edward I the tithes of Louthwaite and Curthwaite, both of which were within the limits of the forest, proved a bone of contention. They were claimed by the king as being extra parochial, and his of common right; they were also claimed by the bishop as being within the parish of Aspatria; the prior and convent of Carlisle also put forth a claim, alleging that being an essart within the forest, they were included in the grant of Henry II to that house; and the parish priest of Thursby also claimed them as being within his parish. The settlement of the case in the king's favour put an end to all further disputes. Edward afterwards, in the year 1294, granted the tithes not only of the places mentioned, but of all other places in the forest of Inglewood that should afterwards be assarted, and not being within the limits of any other parish. By this charter the prior and convent of Carlisle became the impropriators of the tithes of Westward, and since the dissolution of that house at the Reformation, they have been in the impropriation of the dean and chapter, as the successors of the Augustinian monks of Carlisle. The benefice is a vicarage, certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at £23, but is now worth £300; and held by the Rev. T.W. Melrose. There are attached to the living 5 acres of ancient glebe and 40 acres allotted at the inclosure of the common in 1822. It was also augmented by a Parliamentary grant of £1,200, and a further sum of £22 a year is received from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. At the inclosure of the common, for which an Act was obtained in 1811, there were awarded to the dean and chapter of Carlisle, the patrons of the living, 1,408 acres in lieu of all tithes, viz., 893½ acres for the tithes of the common land, 360 acres in lieu of the tithes of the ancient land, 67 acres as a modus for the tithe of meal, 38½ acres for the tithe of geese, and 49 acres in lieu of the tithe of wool and lamb. The church was restored in 1879 at a cost of £570, when a complete transformation of the interior took place. There are monuments to the Barwis family, one of whom was Richard Barwis, a man of gigantic stature, whose monument, dated 1648, bears an amusing and quaint inscription. The east window is of stained-glass, three lights, representing the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection, and is a memorial to members of the Skelton family of Forest Hall. On the south side is another, also of three lights, an illustration of the Ascension, in memory of the Peat family, late of Green Hill. In 1896 a beautiful brass eagle lecturn was presented by Mr. George P. Hayton in memory of his father, mother, and brother, who formerly resided at Gerrard House. The seats and woodwork of the church are of oak.

The School is situated close to the church and has an average attendance of 60 children.

The charities are now distributed according to a scheme of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

CHARITIES. - Francis Barwis, in 1657, left to the poor of Westward and Wigton, a rent-charge of 40s. upon a parcel of ground near Wigton, called Stankbank.

John Jefferson, of Brackenthwaite, left by will in 1747, the sum of £60, the interest thereof to be applied to the education of six poor children of the parish. The money was invested in a cottage and two acres of land near Dalston.

The Rev. John Pape bequeathed £20, the interest to be applied in the education of one child, when the incumbent is not the master of the school. Should he be, the interest to be given to the poor.

Robert Jefferson, left £100 in 1793, for the support of the poor not receiving parochial relief, or the education of their children.

Joseph Hodge, in 1844, left by will £800, for the clothing and maintenance of poor women, or the education of children of Westward parish.

The name of Ilekirk, a contraction of Hilda's Kirk, indicates the spot where Roger, the recluse, shut himself out from the world and its gaieties, and sought retirement in the midst of the forest. Beyond his name, we know nothing of the hermit, the time he lived, nor by whom the little cell was endowed. After the suppression of monastic institutions, the Hermitage of Hildkirk or Ilekirk, with all the land thereto belonging, was granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Dalston, Esq., for which he agreed to pay, at the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, yearly, 15s. 8½d. The grantee conveyed it the following year to Anthony Barwis, by whose descendants it was held for several generations. One member of this family, Richard Barwis, was famed for his gigantic stature. Many stories are yet current of the feats of strength he performed. It is said that he was wont to exhibit his muscular powers by walking round the court-yard of Ilekirk Hall, carrying, at arm's length, his wife on one hand, and a stone of prodigious size on the other. There is also a tradition that he once walked along Eden Bridge, at Carlisle, with his fair spouse seated on his hand, and elevated over the battlements. There is still to be seen at Ilekirk a large stone, which, it is asserted, he could throw with ease the whole length of the courtyard, though there are few men who can now raise it from the ground. This Hercules died in the 47th year of his age, 13th February, 1648. The hall, now a farmhouse, stands in a deep valley, near a small stream, about a mile W. of the church.

Old Carlisle, an important Roman station, supposed to be the Olenacum of the Notitia, is situated in the township of Stoneraise, nearly two miles S. of Wigton. The Imperial legions, masters of the science of military engineering as then practised, selected here the summit of an eminence, guarded on two sides by a deep ravine, through which flows the Wiza. From the station an uninterrupted prospect is obtained of a wide extent of country, reaching to the sea on the west. Mr. Hutchinson, in his "History of Cumberland," says:- "The remains of the station are very extensive, foundations of innumerable buildings being scattered over many acres, as well within the vallum as on every hand without, except to the westward, where the ground descends precipitately to the brook Wiza. The station is an oblong square, 170 paces in length and 110 in breadth, with obtuse angles, defended by a double ditch, with an opening or approach in the centre of each side; the whole ground discovers a confusion of ruined edifices." Sacrificial instruments, statues, images, altars, coins, inscriptions, and many other relies of antiquity, bearing their silent but unimpeachable testimony of the presence and ascendancy of the Roman eagle in the western portions of the county, have been found in considerable numbers. If we may believe an old tradition, Odard, first baron of Wigton, built the church of that town with materials taken from the ruins of this station. Many of the inscriptions found here are given in Hutchinson's "Cumberland," and others may be seen in the work of the Messrs. Lysons.

In 1845, a Roman altar was dug up here, 3 feet 2 inches high, 1 foot 5 inches broad, and 5 inches thick, bearing the following inscription, which records its dedication to the goddess Bellona, by Rufinus, prefect of the cavalry of the Augustan ala (or wing), and his son Lainianus:


This stood for several years at the Red Dial Inn, but it was removed a few years ago, and its whereabouts have been lost sight of.

One of the most interesting of the many inscribed stones found here was dug up in 1775, and is now in the Netherby collection. It bears the following inscription:

I [ovi] O [ptimo] M [aximo]
Pro salvt [e]
Imp[eratoris] L. Septim [ii]
Severi Aug[vsti] nostri
Eqvites Alae
Avg [vstę] evrante
Egnatio Vere
cvndo Pra
ef [ectvs] posvervnt.

Which may be read: "To Jupiter, best and greatest, for the safety of the Emperor Lucius Septimus Severus our Augustus: the cavalry of the wing styled the Augustan under the direction of Egnatius Verecundus Prefect placed this." Amongst others found at Old Carlisle are the following:


...... IP. AELI.

Now at Wigton.


I. O. M.
............ IVSTINVS

Preserved at Lowther Castle.


I. O. M.

Now at Lowther Castle.


(At Greenhill, Wigton.)


This township, or quarter, forms the southern extremity of the parish, and is a hilly district, bounded on the south by Catland and Warnell Fells. The district is sparsely peopled; the number of inhabitants are returned in the township of Stoneraise, with which for local purposes it is united. Besides the hamlet of Brocklebank, the division contains the small hamlets of Clea Green, Reathwaite, and several dispersed dwellings. Clea Hall, now a farmhouse, was once the residence of a younger branch of the Musgraves of Crookdake, and subsequently of the Fletchers of Dearham, to whom it passed by inter-marriage with the heiress. The principal landowners are Lord Leconfield and the resident yeomen.



This ecclesiastical district was formed in 1868 by the sub-division of Westward parish. For all civil and poor law business Westward retains its ancient limits, but for ecclesiastical purposes the townships of Rosley and Woodside have been constituted a distinct parish. It comprises about 5,800 acres, and has a population of 612.

ROSLEY TOWNSHIP - The area, ratable value, and population are included in the parish returns. The village of Rosley occupies a delightful situation on the southern acclivity of an eminence five miles E.S.E. of Wigton and nine miles from Carlisle. It has long been noted for its large horse and cattle fairs, which are held annually on Whit-Monday, but since the establishment of agricultural auction marts in the large towns of the county these fairs have dwindled into insignificance, and will soon be only remembered as things that were. Rosley Hill is a large piece of common, from which extensive panoramic views are obtained. Brackenthwaite and Craggs are two hamlets in this division, the former 2½ miles and the latter 3 miles S.E. of Wigton.

WOODSIDE - The acreage, ratable, value, and population of this quarter are included in the returns of the parish. The following hamlets are comprised in the division, viz.:- Westwoodside, Eastwoodside, East and West Curthwaite and Howrigg, and The Height; all of which lie from 2½ to 5 miles east of Wigton. The principal landowner is Sir Musgrave Brisco, besides whom there are several resident yeomen.

Here is a small manor, called Twenty Houses, held on customary tenure, under arbitrary fines, the joint property of Sir Musgrave Brisco and Sir Wilfrid Lawson. A meal tithe was levied on this manor by one of the lords of Inglewood Forest, for the support of the hounds which were kept at Forester Fold, and the inhabitants were subject to its payment till the enclosure of the commons, when land was allotted in lieu thereof. They are toll free at Rosley, Wigton, and Penrith, and formerly possessed the privilege of two votes.

The Church, situated midway between Rosley and Curthwaite, was erected as a chapel-of-ease to Westward in 1840, and continued as such until the division of the parish. The building was reseated some few years ago at a cost of £150, and a new organ installed at a further outlay of £115. The benefice is styled a vicarage, and is in the gift of the dean and chapter of Carlisle, and valued at £300. A good vicarage-house was built at a cost of £1,500. A Burial Ground, adjoining the church, was purchased in 1888. The school dates from 1875; it has an average attendance of 54 children.

Previous to the enclosure of the common land, several trenches and other vestiges of encampments could be traced in this parish, particularly near The Height, but most of them have been levelled, and large quantities of stone removed from their sites.

CHARITY - Mr. Joseph Hodgson, in 1851, bequeathed the sum of £50, the interest thereof to be applied to the maintenance of the poor or the education of their children. Several other sums have since been left, but all are equally divided between the two parishes.


*The following extract from the survey taken in 1578, contradicts the above statement, which is made on the authority of Nicholson and Burn: "It appeareth that the said Westward is not within the limit of the forest of Inglewood, for that in a perambulation of the said forest, made the 6th of August, in the ninth year of the reign of Richard II, the Westward is not included."



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman