Aldingham Parish

  > Is bounded on the east by Morecambe bay; on the south west by the parish of Dalton; and on the north-west by that of Urswick. It is five miles in length, and three and a half in breadth; contains 4458 statute acres; and the annual rateable value of its property, in 1841, was estimated at 7521. Its population in 1801, was 633; in 1811, 696; in 1821, 760; in 1831, 884; and in 1841 it amounted to 907 souls, viz., 469 males, and 438 females. Dr. Todd derives its name from Hald-hing-ham, "oppidum ad lapides antiquum pensiles," - a habitation near hanging stones, and Mr. Baines, from eald, old, ing, a meadow or pasture, and ham, a habitation. It has been also derived from the British word alltig, or aldig, a cliffy place, and the Saxon word ham, a house or place of abode. It is divided into the four townships of Aldingham Lower and Upper, Gleaston, and Leece; and its principal land owners are the Earl of Burlington, C.D. Archibald, Esq., and Messrs. Peacock, Rd. Simpson, Rd. Presow, and Geo. Coulton. The entire parish is included in the manor of Muchland, originally called Michael-land, from Sir Michael le Fleming, who received a grant of the demesne of this manor from the Conqueror. In process of time the name Michael was changed into the Scotch epithet Mickle, which signifies much, and the lands were finally corrupted into the appellation of Much-land. This also includes part of the parish of Urswick, called Much-Urswick. A court leet and baron, which were granted in 1199, by King John to William le Fleming and his heirs, are still held in this manor twice a year, at the court room at Seawood. In this grant the king reserved for his manor of Aldingham, a rent of ten pounds a year, which, with the homage and service due for the manor, was subsequently granted by Henry III to the abbot of Furness and his successors, and which is still paid to the lord of the liberty. In 1269 the manor passed in marriage to Richard de Caunesfield, and afterwards to the families of Harrington and Bonville; and, in 1457, to the Greys, Marquises of Dorset. Henry Grey was created Duke of Suffolk by Edward VI, but was beheaded for high treason against Queen Mary, in 1554. By his attainder, the manor was forfeited to the crown. Several parts of it were afterwards dismembered by James I and Charles I, the latter of whom, in 1629, conveyed it to the Earl of Holland and others, for ninety-nine years, in trust for Queen Henrietta during her life, and after her death to the use of the king, his heirs and successors. In 1672, Charles II conveyed it for the residue of the said term to the Earl of St. Albans and others, in trust for his queen, Catherine, during her life; and, in 1679, granted it to Bertie1 and others in fee, in trust for Charles, Earl of Plymouth, his natural son, by Mrs. Catherine Peg, and the heirs of his body, but the next year, the Earl dying without issue, it again reverted to the crown, in which it remained till 1693, when William and Mary conveyed it to George and John Sayer for a term of ninety-nine years, from the death of Queen Catherine, which took place in 1705. These were to pay for it a yearly rent of 10s., and discharge the 10 a year due to the lordship of Furness. This lease expired in 1804, when the Duchess of Buccleugh, daughter of the Duke of Montague, became lessee. It was afterwards leased to Michael Knott, Esq., of Waterhead house, Monk Coniston, the assignment of whose grant passed to Thomas Richard Gale Braddyll, Esq., of Conishead priory. A fine of two years' rent is paid by the tenants to the lord on their admission. Formerly every tenant paying 40s. rent was obliged to find a horse and harness for the King's service, and those paying 20s. rent were each bound to furnish a man harnessed for the like service.

The village of Aldingham, which was once nearly a mile in length, has been swept away by the encroachments of the sea. It stood at the foot of a rock, near "the Moat" or Hall, and the rectory, the only two dwellings now remaining, with the church between them, distant about six miles S. of Ulverston. Mr. West says, "this moot or moat has the appearance of an exploratory mount, and might have been such as it commands a view of the coast and bay of Morecambe."

Near the farm-house called the Moat, is an artificial mount and a square entrenchment, on which stood the ancient mansion of the Le Flemings.

The church, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, is an ancient fabric. It was renewed and repaired about the reign of Henry V by one of the Harringtons, but the three cylindrical columns of the south aisle, and the circular door of the old edifice were retained. Its foundation is doubtless of a more remote origin than the commencement of the thirteenth century, when the first mention of it is made in the abbot's grant of 100s. a year to H. Parson, of Aldingham, out of the vicarage of Dalton. In the arch leading to the chancel is a small aperture, formed from one of the pews, for the purpose, as is supposed, of witnessing the elevation of the host in Catholic times. Another side-aisle was added to it by the late rector, at a cost of 300, so that it is now capable of seating three hundred and fifty persons. It consists of a nave, chancel, and two side-aisles, with a tower in which are three bells. The benefice, which is a rectory, in the gift of the crown in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, is now worth about 1,093 per annum, and is enjoyed by the Rev. John Macauley, M.A., who resides at the rectory house, a pleasant dwelling near the church. The Rev. John Stonard, D.D., late rector, who died April 22nd, 1849, in the 81st year of his age, was author of several works which evinced great talent and research.

Baycliffe2 is a hamlet in Aldingham township, situate near the shore, five miles S. of Ulverston; Newbiggin is another hamlet in the same township, four miles S.E. of Dalton, and Rossbeck,3 another hamlet, four and a half miles S.S.E. of Dalton. Scales is a village in Aldingham, five miles S. of Ulverston. The hill called Scales haggs contains many large subterraneous cavities, in one of which some human skeletons have been found.

Sunbreak4 is another small hamlet in this township, three and a half miles S. of Ulverston.

GLEASTON township contains a village in a low situation, near a brook, two and a half miles S.E. of Dalton. The name is probably a contraction of Glasserton, which is derived from the British words, glas, green, er, fallow or ploughed land, and ton, a town or village. A little to the north-east of the village appear the venerable ruins of Gleaston Castle, whose shattered walls of massy thickness, and mouldering towers lighted by small apertures, demonstrate the design for which it was erected, and awaken in the mind historical associations, contrasting widely with the calm and settled tranquillity of the present age. Although this castle was undoubtedly intended as a place of security for the lord of Aldingham, against the frequent incursions of the Scots, and though its walls have been of a considerable height, and eight or nine feet in thickness, "yet," says Mr. West, "it can never have been a place capable of much resistance, for the interior part, instead of being filled with grout work, as in the walls of the Pile of Fouldrey, has been constructed with mud and small stones." It is traditionally said to have been erected about the 13th century, by the lords of Aldingham, in consequence of the lower part of the parish in which they originally resided, having been swept away by the sea. The main tower or castle has been defended by a thick wall, encompassing an oblong square plot of ground, and a tower at each corner. The two longest sides of the enclosure measure 228 feet each within the wall; another side is 168 feet; and the fourth 132. The two smallest towers are still entire, but one of the others is almost completely demolished, and the other much dilapidated.

LEECE township has a small village of its own name, built round a tarn, three miles S.S.E. of Dalton. The name is supposed to be derived from the British words le and is, which mean a place lower than some neighbouring place. The township contains also the small hamlet of Dendron, two and a half miles S.S.E. of Dalton. Here is a chapel of ease, erected in 1642, by Robert Dickinson, a citizen of London, but a native of Leece, who also endowed it with 200, which, with another small benefaction, now yield about 9 per annum. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester, in 1776; and, in 1796, was rebuilt by Thomas Green, Esq. of London, who received a part of his early education at this place. In 1833 it was considerably improved and enlarged, at the expense of the principal inhabitants, who also removed the school which was attached to it, in consideration of having free sittings in the chapel when enlarged. It is now a handsome edifice, containing one hundred and sixty sittings, twelve of which are free. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the rector of Aldingham, and incumbency of the Rev. John Pattinson, who is also master of the free school, which was originally erected by the above-named Mr. Green, and rebuilt on a new site, as before stated, in 1833. In 1773, 1780, and 1792, the curacy received three lots of Queen Anne's Bounty, amounting to 800, with which land was purchased in the parishes of Dalton and Urswick; and, in 1845, it received 31 per annum from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, so that the benefice is now worth about 90 a year. The parsonage house is a neat and commodious dwelling, purchased in 1845, with 400, of which, 200 was obtained from the commissioners of Queen Anne's Bounty, to meet a similar sum given in advance, viz., 100 by Pyncombe's trustees; 50 by Dr. Stonard; and 50 by Marshall's trustees. In George Fox's Journal it is stated that he preached in the old chapel, A.D. 1652.

Mannix & Co., History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland, 1851




1. A surname has evidently been omitted here.
2. Now Baycliff.
3. Now Roosebeck.
4. Now Sunbrick.

19 June 2015


Steve Bulman