Arlecdon Parish

  > Extends about four miles from north to south, and two and a half from east to west, comprises the townships of Arlecdon, Whillimoor, and High and Low Frisington, and is bounded by the parishes of Saint Bees, Cleator, Dean, Moresby, Distington, and the parochial chapelry of Loweswater. Coal, iron ore, and limestone are found in this parish. The principal part of the parish is customary tenure, under the earl of Lonsdale and lady le Fleming, of Rydal Hall, Westmorland. It contains 211 souls, and about 5314 acres of land, nearly all freehold, of the rateable value of 3398 10s. The parish is tithe free, land having been awarded in lieu thereof many years ago.

Arlecdon is a small village, situate about six miles east by north of Whitehaven. Its name, which is variously written Arlecdon, Arlecden, and Arlochden, is supposed by Nicholson and Burn to be derived from Ar-floghden, signifying, "a place at the bottom of a deep valley," though neither its situation nor the component part of the word seems to favour such a derivation. Another writer derives it from the British word, Arlech, signifying, upon a rock, and dun, elevated ground. Its manor is a fee of Beckermet, and was granted by Wm. de Meschines to Sir Michael le Fleming, Knight, ancestor to lady le Fleming, the present proprietress. The township contains 1541 acres, rated at 1115 7s. 6d., and the principal non-resident owners of the soil (which is generally fertile), are John Lindow, Esq., and Mr. Alexander Spittall. The Church, dedicated to St. Michael, was rebuilt in 1829, at the cost of 798 6s. 4d. raised by a rate on the parishioners, except 100, which was given by the bishop of Chester. It is a small, but exceedingly neat edifice, consisting of a nave, chancel, and porch, with a turret carrying two bells. The bishop of Chester is appropriator and patron, and the Rev. George Wilkinson, B. D. is the incumbent, and resides at the Parsonage, a good substantial building in the Elizabethan style, and situate about three quarters of a mile from the church. It was erected in 1842 at a cost of 600 taken out of the fund arising out of queen Anne's bounty. The living was a rectory until the thirteenth century. It was given by John le Fleming, in the 26th of Henry III (1241) to Calder Abbey, and twenty-one years afterwards was appropriated and annexed to the archdeaconry of Richmond, by the archbishop of York, so that it is now only a perpetual curacy, the net value of which was certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners at 94. It was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at 10, and in the year 1764 was augmented with 600 by the countess dowager Gower; and in 1810 by a parliamentary grant of 200. The Rev. Thomas Baxter, who died in 1787, was minister for sixty-two years; nor is it unworthy of note that this parish has had only four incumbents for the space of 116 years, viz. from 1725 till 1829, when the present incumbent was inducted. There is a small Methodist Chapel in this township, built in 1839. Cattle fairs are held at Arlecdon on the 24th of April, the first Friday in June, and the 17th of September.

At New Asby, which is a hamlet in this parish, there is a school, supported solely by Mr. William Dickinson, of North Mosses, who has one of his extensive tile works in the parish. Mr. Philip Graham is the present master. The Messrs. Lysons say, it appears from the register, that of the parishioners buried here, one in six was aged from 80 to 89 inclusive, and about one in forty, from 90 to 99.*

Frisington, High and Low, form one township, extending from 3 to 5 miles E. of Whitehaven. This manor is also a fee of Beckermet, and was anciently held by a family of its own name, whose three co-heiresses, in the reign of Henry IV, sold it to William Leigh, in whose family it continued till purchased of a descendant, by Anthony Patrickson, whose grandson sold the Parks, to the Fletchers, of Hutton, and the remainder of the manor was subsequently purchased by Sir James Lowther, ancestor to the present earl of Lonsdale, who is the largest owner of the soil, and lord of the manor. The township contains 1884 acres, rated at 1561 10s. The land is fertile, and abounds in freestone, iron, and coal; two iron ore pits are now worked here - one by Messrs. Tulk & Ley, and the other by Mr. Atwood, both of which are very productive; a coal pit has just been opened by the Threapthwaite Coal Company, at which from 40 to 50 tons a day are already being raised. There is on the Cringlegill estate, a chalybeate spring, said to possess the same medicinal virtues as those at Harrogate. The baroness de Sternberg is the owner of Frisington Park estate. At a place called Crosslacon, in this township, is an ancient cross, of rude workmanship, about 3 feet high. There is a part cut out at the top, which is said to have been for holding the book while the monk read to the bearers of the corpse, in resting on their way to the priory of St. Bees for interment. The school at Frisington has been licensed for divine service, and duty is performed here every Sunday afternoon by the incumbent of Arlecdon, for the convenience of the aged and infirm, who are unable to travel to the parish church.

Whillimoor township, 5 miles N. E. of Whitehaven, contains 1889 acres, rated at 721 12s. 6d. and was formerly an open common. The land is generally sterile, a great portion being still covered with black heath or ling. The earl of Lonsdale, John Douglas, and J. L. L. Raper, Esqrs., are the largest landowners, and the former is lord of the manor. When the commons of this and Arlecdon townships were divided, in 1820, there were 200 acres allotted to the bishop of Chester, as rector of the parish, in lieu of tithes for Whillimoor, and 190 for Arlecdon, several acres having been previously granted for Frisington.

* The general average proportion of those who attain the age of eighty is said to be one in thirty-two, and in London, one in forty. - Lysons.


 Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847



19 June 2015


Steve Bulman