Askham Parish


Is bounded by the parishes of Barton, Lowther, and Bampton, and consists of two manors and townships, Askham, and Helton, which, in 1841, contained 635 inhabitants. It comprises about 4311 acres, of which 203 are woods and commons, and the remainder is in a high state of cultivation. The soil is mostly incumbent on limestone, and generally fertile, and the rateable annual value, 2695, viz., Askham township, 1476, and Helton 1219. The principal land owners are the Earl of Lonsdale, John Topping, Esq., Mr. George Foulstone, Rev. Wm. Jackson, D.D., Mr. Edward Clark, Mr. John Mounsey, and a few resident yeomen.

ASKHAM is a large village, in a pleasant situation, opposite to Lowther Park, five miles S. of Penrith. It was anciently written Ascum, or Ascom, which simply means the home or habitation of Aske, - the name, no doubt, of one of its ancient proprietors. The word hamlet is a diminutive of the Saxon ham. The insurrection, caused by the suppression of the monasteries and other religious institutions, in the reign of Henry VIII, was headed by Sir Robert Aske, a gentleman of great influence in Yorkshire, and probably a descendant of him who gave name to this parish. A daughter of his was married to Sir Robert Bellingham, of Burneside, near Kendal. "Others," says Bum, "derive the name of this place from the Saxon Esc, which signifies a hazel nut, and the word Ascum, in the old Latin, signifies a boat, so denominated from its resemblance to a nut shell." In the village are two good inn.

The manor belonged to Sir Thomas Helbeck, of Helbeck, in the reign of Henry III, and continued in the possession of his heirs till the commencement of the 14th century, when it passed to the family of Swinburne, one of whom, in 1372, conveyed it to three individuals, who, in 1374 conveyed the same to William Colynson, from whom it passed in 1375, to Edmund de Sandford, whose descendants held it till 1724, when Wm. Sandford died without male issue. The manor was subsequently sold to the Lowthers, so that the Earl of Lonsdale is its present lord, and owner of a great part of the soil.

The hall, or manor house, which, for about 350 years was the residence of the Sandford family, is an oblong turreted building. It was rebuilt in 1574, by Thomas Sandford, Esq., who caused the following curious and rather quaint inscription, to be placed over the gate:

"Thomas Sandford, esquire,
For this paid meat and hyre,
The year of our Saviour
XV hundrethe seventy-four."

In 1828, it was converted, by permission of the bishop, into the rectory house for Lowther parish, and is now occupied by the Rev. Wm. Jackson, D.D., Chancellor of the diocese of Carlisle, and incumbent of Lowther.

The church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a neat Gothic edifice, rebuilt by the late Earl of Lonsdale, in 1832-3, and is calculated to seat 300 hearers. It stands in a low situation on the west bank of the river Lowther. The old fabric is described by Burn as a small antique building, with two bells, and as having a large aisle, or chapel, belonging to the hall, with an ancient monument, on which was an inscription commemorating the death of Sir William de Sandford, who died in 1416. This chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. By the first will of Dame Idonea Sandford, made in 1412, her son William was enjoined "on pain of her blessing or malediction, to charge his sons, and sons' sons after him, to provide a fit priest to perform divine service in the church of Ascome, for ever, for the repose of the souls of their benefactors, and the souls of all the faithful departed." And by her will made in 1418, she bequeathed to Robert, her son and heir, her son William being then dead, eight oxgangs of land, and half of the mill of Ascome, upon condition that he find one chaplain to celebrate mass for the soul of her father, and the souls of her ancestors, in the chapel of St. Mary, of Ascombe. In the year 1245, Pope Innocent IV confirmed the appropriation of this church to the monastery of "Wartre, in Yorkshire," but, after the dissolution the rectory and advowson were granted to Thomas, Earl of Rutland, of whom they were purchased by Lancelot Lancaster, and Michael Hudson, who in 1542, sold them to Thomas Sandford, Esq., for 256 2s. 3d. In 1680, his descendant, William Sandford, sold the rectory, except the tithes of three estates, to the Lowthers, who in 1815, also purchased the advowson from the trustees of Edward Bolton, Esq. The vicarage is valued in the king's books at 4 13s. 8d., but was subsequently certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, at 31 16s. The tithes have recently been commuted for a yearly rent charge, and the present value of the living is about 180 per annum.

The Rev. James Thornborrow Ward, instituted in 1832, is the incumbent, and resides at the vicarage house, which occupies a beautiful situation on the west side of the church-yard. It has been considerably improved and enlarged by the present vicar.

The school was endowed in 1813, by subscriptions amounting to 420, of which 300 was laid out in the purchase of six and a half acres of land, and the rest is let on interest. Population of Askham township, in 1841, amounted to 442.

HELTON is a village and township, one mile south of Askham. It was anciently called Helton-Flecket, to distinguish it from Helton Beacon, now Hilton, near Appleby. The manor passed from the Morvills, Wessingtons, and Englishes, to the Sandfords, who, in 1680, sold it to Sir John Lowther, ancestor of its present possessor, the Earl of Lonsdale. Helton Dale, one mile S. of the village, forms the southern extremity of the parish, and is refreshed by a small rivulet which flows eastward to the Lowther, from Swarth Fell, near the lake of Ulswater. Population in 1841, 193.


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



19 June 2015


Steve Bulman