This is a parish in Bootle ward, petty sessional and electoral divisions, poor law union and rural district; the deanery of Gosforth; and the county court district of Whitehaven. It extends from the coast eastward to the confines of Millom, and as far north as Whitbeck. Its entire area is 7,502 acres, of which 4,883 are ratable. The assessment value is estimated at 3,546, and the population at 300. It contains the village of Silecroft, but has not one of its own name. The soil towards the sea is fertile, but eastward the parish stretches over hilly ground, which is better adapted for sheep pasture than any form of tillage. Part of the parish is within the lordship of Millom; the remainder is held of the Earl of Lonsdale. Whicham Hall is now occupied as a farmhouse; and near it is a field known as Scots' Croft, where, according to tradition, a battle was fought between the English and Scotch in the turbulent days of border warfare.

The Manor, which has been variously called Whittingeham, Whitcham, and Wichehan, was formerly held as a fee of Millom, and is said to have received its name from one Wyche, its possessor, in the reign of Henry I. In the time of Henry III Ralph de Bethern held land in Whicham. In 1315 the manor appears to have been held by another family. It was subsequently divided into severalties, and passed through many hands, but all account of these transfers appears to have been lost. Whicham and Silecroft are now held by the Earl of Lonsdale, the former estate having been purchased by Sir James Lowther, Bart., from Mr. Henry Fearon and others. The principal landowners are the Earl of Lonsdale, W.B. Walker, Esq., J.P., John Caddy, and J.B. Brockbank.

The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain ancient structure, consisting of chancel, nave, north transept, and belfry containing two bells. In 1858 it underwent reparation, when new windows were inserted and the transept added. There are several fine stained-glass windows. It is proposed shortly to thoroughly restore the edifice, the cost of which will be about 900; the architects, Messrs. Austin & Paley, of Lancaster. The church was given at an early date by "Reynard the Fewer," to St. Mary's Abbey, York, to which it remained attached until the Dissolution of Religious Houses, when the patronage was granted to Hugh Askew, Esq. It subsequently passed to the Penningtons, but the time and manner of the transfer are alike unknown. The advowson remained in this family until sold by Lord Muncaster to the Earl of Lonsdale, to whose descendant it now belongs. The benefice is a rectory valued in the King's Book at 8 15s., and certified to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 49 13s. 3d. The tithes were commuted in 1838 for 160 per annum., and there are also 84 acres of glebe belonging to the living, which is now valued at 200. The oldest registry in the church bears the date 1569. The present rector is the Rev. William Pelisier Ingledow.

The School, formerly the Whicham and Millom Grammar School, was rebuilt in 1862 and consists of two departments with an accommodation of 150.

CHARITIES. - Whicham and Millom Grammar School is supposed to have been founded by a person of the name of Hodgson, a native of this parish, who endowed it with 16 a year, which from 1640 have been regularly paid out of the revenues of the Crown, in the county of Cumberland. In a Chancery suit which continued from 1687 to 1691 between the parishes of Whicham and Millom, it was contended by the latter that the school was founded by one of the Kings of England prior to the reign of Elizabeth. It is now it public elementary school.

There was formerly a poor-stock of 33 belonging to this parish, viz., 3 left by Daniel Mason, the interest thereof to be distributed to six poor widows; 5 given by the Rev. Robert Crompton, rector of the parish in 1630, the interest to be distributed annually amongst the poor. The remainder was left by unknown donors, half the interest thereof to be applied to the repairs of the church and half to the poor.

Silecroft is a neat village near the sea, four miles S. by E. of Bootle, and about eight miles S.W. of Broughton-in-Furness. It is on the Furness Railway, which company have a station here. This little place is every way fitted for a seaside resort, possessing not only a splendid beach, but being in close proximity to the sombre looking height of Black Combe (1,969 feet), part of which is situated within the confines of the parish. (See Whitbeck.)

About three quarters of a mile from the village is a bed of clay, 40 feet deep, from which bricks, tiles, drainpipes, etc., are made by patent machinery. It is the property of W.B. Walker, Esq., and worked by Mr. James Lings.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman