Extends about three miles along the coast, and two and a half miles inland, having the parishes of Bootle and Whicham on the north and south, and the Black Combe on the east. The soil towards the sea is rather sandy, inclining to a clay, and towards the Black Combe gravelly. The surface of the parish is irregular and uneven. A band of peat moss, extending in some places to nearly one-fifth of the breadth of the parish, runs longitudinally through the greatest part of the land, dividing the soil into two kinds. Here, as in some other places along the west coast, the sea has made considerable encroachments, and traces of old roads and hedges are still visible below low water mark. The parish is in Bootle ward, petty sessional division, poor law union, rural district, and county council electoral division; county court district of Whitehaven; and the rural deanery of Gosforth; and consists of about 4,343 acres, about half of which consist of mountain and moorland. The assessment is valued at 2,793, and the population in 1891 was 188.

Black Combe, the termination of a mountain ridge, is in this parish. Its name is truly descriptive of its appearance. Although inferior in elevation to many of the neighbouring giants, yet it is said by the late Colonel Mudge to command a more extensive view than any other point in Britain. Fourteen counties of England and Scotland may be seen from its summit, and Talk-on-the-Hill, in Staffordshire, can be distinguished at the distance of 100 miles. "The base of the mountain being on the sea shore, the prospect from its summit abounds with great variety. The sublime ocean occupies half the circumference; rising from its surface, on the south, are seen Piel Castle and the Isle of Walney. The Isle of Man is a conspicuous object on the west." On the summit of the hill is a capacious cavity, supposed to have been the crater of an extinct volcano.

"This height a ministering angel might select,
For from the summit of Black Combe
*  *  * the amplest range
Of unobstructed prospect may be seen
That British ground commands." - Wordsworth.

Mr.Hutchinson, in his "History of Cumberland," prints a communication by the Rev. William Pearson, in which he says:- "When the wind blows from the east over Black Combe, the inhabitants of the houses which stand close under its base find it most violent; when the wind blows from the sea, the most temperate. In Whicham, behind the mountain, it is quite the reverse; so that whenever it is calm in one parish it is stormy in the other, when it blows from the east or west." The same writer mentions the following quaint customs and superstitions as prevalent in his day (1794); and some of them may yet be found lurking among the Cumbrian hills, though the light of the past century exerted its potent influence in dispelling these dregs of the ages of Ignorance. "Newly-married people beg the corn to sow their first crop with, and are called
corn-laiters. People always keep wake with the dead. The labouring ox is said to kneel at twelve o'clock at night on Christmas Eve; bees are heard to hum at the same hour. To whichever quarter a bull faces in lying on All-Hallows Eve, from thence the wind will blow the greatest part of the winter."

Of the early history of the Manor of Whitbeck but little is known. It appears to have been held by Sir William Morthing, who gave it by fine to Conishead Priory, in Furness. The Morthings were a family of considerable importance in the locality as early as the reign of Henry III. The manor continued in the possession of the priory until the dissolution of that house by Henry VIII, when it was seized by the Crown. Some years subsequently it was granted to a Mr. Lawrence Parke, a resident of the parish, and it continued in the possession of his descendants until 1797, when it was sold by Charles Parke, Esq., to Lord Lonsdale.

The other principal landowners are the Trustees of William Grice, Mrs. Ann Hunter, David W. Coward, John Grice, the Trustees of J.B. Wilson, Thomas H. Coward, Exors. of John Grice, Emily Petherick, F. Barratt, Richard Grice, W.B. Walker, and William Parker.

Monk Foss, a small manor in this parish, owes its appellation to the circumstance that it was once a part of the possessions of Furness Abbey. After the suppression of that monastery it was granted to the Huddlestons, lords of Millom. The lordship of Millom was sold in 1774, and in 1777 Monk Foss was the property of Edward Gibson, Esq., of Whitehaven, from whose family it passed to the Lewthwaites, and still remains in their possession. Scroggerbar, another small manor, was severed from the lordship of Millom by Sir William Huddleston, and given to his second son Joseph; but by the death of Ferdinand, the elder brother, he became possessed of Millom, and Scroggerbar was united again to that lordship.

The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is situated in the hamlet of Newton or Town End. It is an ancient edifice, dating probably from about the middle of the thirteenth century, but the beauty and simplicity of the original style have been barbarously mutilated by modern restorations. The church consists of nave and chancel, separated by a fine pointed arch supported on granite pillars, and bell turret at the western end containing two bells. In the church is preserved the monumental effigy of a lady clad in a loose flowing robe gathered in graceful folds under the left arm. Her chin is bound by a wimple, and her head is covered by a veil which falls over her shoulders. The effigy is now in a very mutilated condition; it formerly lay in the churchyard, and the features have been worn away by the passing of many heedless feet, and the stone has been otherwise roughly used. The figure is known in local tradition as the Lady of Annaside, and is probably a memento of one of the Huddlestons of Anneys. Whitbeck Church was given by Gamel de Pennington to the priors of Conishead, and was held by that convent until the dissolution of monasteries. The advowson as well as the manor was held by the Parkes from 1687 until 1807, when they were purchased by the Earl of Lonsdale, whose descendant is the present patron and lay-rector. He is also the impropriator of half the tithes. Having been a dependant of a monastic house, the title of the living was only a perpetual curacy until the passing of Lord Blandford's Act, by which it became a vicarage. It was certified to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 9 14s. 8d., and in 1835 was returned as of the annual value of 76. The tithes have been commuted for the yearly rent charge of 60. The benefice was augmented in 1747 with 200 from Queen Anne's bounty, and 250 given by the patron and impropriator, being the produce of the sale of a portion of the tithes. About the year 1760 it received a farther grant of 200, and in 1785 another 200 from Queen Anne's Bounty, and a further augmentation of 200, with which a house and land were purchased, now occupied by the vicar, the Rev. Thos. Metcalfe. The living is valued at 123. The registers commence in 1597.

Newton or Town End is a small hamlet on the Broughton road, 2 miles south of Bootle. Annaside is another hamlet near the sea, 1 miles S.W. of Bootle.

The numerous Druidical remains found in this parish bear evidence to the importance of Whitbeck at a time when our Celtic ancestors roamed half clad and half wild through the wooded glades of Cumberland. At Hall Foss are vestiges of a Druidical temple, locally known as Standing Stones; near to Annaside is a circular monument, consisting of twelve large stones and on the Moorgreen farm is another monument, composed of thirty large stones arranged somewhat similar to Stonehenge. These are called Kirkstones. Near these latter is a large cairn, which probably covers the remains of some ancient Briton, whose deeds of valour obtained for him this lasting monument.

At Gutterby there is a spa well, formerly much frequented as a sovereign remedy for scurvy and gravel. An analysis of the water gives the following results:- "A large quantity of chloride of sodium, also sulphate of soda, sulphate of lime, and carbonate of magnesia, and is somewhat similar to the saline spring at Cheltenham. When taken in quantity, the medicinal effect would be slightly purgative, and may have a tendency to prevent the formation of urinary calculi."

CHARITIES. - The Hospital was built by the parishioners, and endowed in 1632, by Mr. Henry Parke, of Kendal, mercer (a native of the parish), with 400, the interest to be distributed to six poor people. In 1722 it was certified that an hospital was built, and that the money left by Mr. Parks had been vested in lands which yielded 24 per annum. It is now the asylum of six poor parishioners, who each receive 8 a year. in 1722 there was a poor stock of 30 belonging to this parish; and the following benefactions are entered in the register:- In 1580, John Kitchen gave 20 marks, half the interest thereof to be applied to the poor, and the other half to the church. In 1617, Lawrence Parke gave 10 for the like purpose. In 1634, Arthur Myers gave 10 for the use of the schoolmaster; in 1674, Henry Robinson gave 5 for the same purpose. In 1735, Agnes Walker gave 10 for the use of the poor; and, in 1737, H. Parke gave the interest of 6 for the like purpose. Henry Parke and John Huddleston gave a donation for the poor on their entering into the hospital.


Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman