Bridekirk Parish

  > Extends about five miles along the Derwent, which separates it from Brigham; and is 3 miles in breadth. It is bounded on the other side by the parishes of Cammerton, Flimby, Dearham, Gilcrux, and Isell1. The land at Papcastle, and near the river, is fertile; but a wet soil, rising from clay or limestone prevails in the north side of the parish. Coal, limestone, and freestone, are found here, and it is presumed there is copper ore in this district. It is divided into the seven following townships, viz., Bridekirk, Broughton Great, Broughton Little, Dovenby, Papcastle and Goat, Ribton and Tallantire, which contained a population of 2112 souls in 1841. The parish contains upwards of 900A. of the rateable value of about 10,000.

Bridekirk township has a neat and pleasantly-situated village, 2 miles N, of Cockermouth. The church and manor were given by Waldeof, first lord of Allerdale, to the monastery of Guisborough, in Yorkshire; but, after the dissolution, Henry VIII, in the 35th year of his reign, granted the manor to one Tolson, to be held in capite, by the 20th part of a knight's fee, and 26s. rent. In 1701, Henry Tolson, Esq., enfranchised the tenants. The church, dedicated to St. Bridget, is a very ancient structure, except the tower, which was rebuilt about 30 years ago, at which time several of the windows were enlarged. There is in this church a curious carved font, of great antiquity, with a Runic inscription2 upon it, which has been thus translated, "Here Ekard was converted: and to this man's example were the Danes brought." The figures are supposed by some to represent the baptism of our Saviour, by John the Baptist, the descent of the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove, and "the great personage whose conversion this monument records." Others are of opinion they represent the expulsion of our first father out of Eden, while Eve clings close to the Tree of Life, as if exclaiming

"Oh unexpected stroke, worse than death:
Must I then leave thee, Paradise ? thus leave
Thee, native soil ? "

Queen Mary, in the 2nd year of her reign, granted the advowson of the vicarage, to Messrs. Cotton and Manne, of London, to hold of the manor of East Greenwich, by fealty only, and not in capite, for all rents, services, &c., but Mrs. Dykes, of Dovenby Hall, is now the patroness, and the Rev. Joseph Ballantine Dykes, M.A. is the present incumbent. The living, which is valued in the king's books at 10 8s. 6d., was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at 33, and returned by the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average value of 137, but it is now worth about 300 per annum. The tithes were commuted in 1840. In the village of Bridekirk is a neat mansion, the seat of H. T. Thompson, Esq., and in the township are two other handsome residences, called Ann's Hill3 and Wood Hall, the former, the seat of W. Slack, Esq.; and the latter, about 1 mile N.E. of Cockermouth, the sylvan villa of J. S. Fisher, Esq. This township is rated at about 1800, and the principal land owners of this and Great Broughton are Mr. Nicholas Ross, Mr. John Sewell, and Mr. John Robinson. 

Amongst the eminent men who were natives of Bridekirk, are the following; Thomas Tickell, Esq., an eminent poet and statesman, was born here, in 1686. He was author of an elegy on the death of his friend Addison, which, according to Dr. Johnson, was the best funeral poem in the English language. In 1724, he was made secretary to the lords justices of Ireland, which office he field till 1740, when he died at Bath. Sir Joseph Williamson, son of the Rev. Joseph Williamson, who was inducted to the vicarage, in 1625, rose from a clerkship to the office of secretary of state. In 1674, his name appears in the catalogue of Oxford graduates, as created D.C.L.4, and he was soon afterwards knighted. In 1678 he was sent to the tower for granting commissions to Catholic recusants, but was next day released by the king. At the treaty of Nimeguen, in 1679, he was one of the plenipotentiaries, on the part of the king of Great Britain, and had the like character at the pacification concluded at Kyswick, in 1696. He resigned the seals in favour of the earl of Sunderland, who paid him 6000, and 500 guineas for his office. He gave and bequeathed to Queens College, in plate, books, building, and money, to the value of 8000; and his donation of books to the library of St. Bees was considerable. He left 500 to the grand-children of his patron, Dr. Langbaine, and gave to Bridekirk, bibles, prayer books, communion plate, &c. Abraham Fletcher was born at Little Broughton, in 1714, and, though his school education cost him only ninepence, yet by applying himself closely to study during his leisure hours, (for he followed the business of tobacco pipe maker during his life) be became the village doctor, a botanist, and astrologer, and published a mathematical work, called the 'Universal Measurer,' - he died in his native village, in 1793. Rev. John Bell was born in 1715, at Dovenby, where he was vicar, till his death, in 1793; he published several excellent Sermons, and an Address to his parishioners, which went through several editions. Rev. Thomas Hervey, who was born at Dovenby, in 1740, published a treatise on the 39 articles, an explanation of the Church Catechism, the English Climax, a useful treatise on Stenography, and some occasional Sermons, &c.; he died in 1806. Population of Bridekirk township in 1841, 111.

Broughton (Great) township has a large and pleasant village, containing several good houses, on the southern acclivity of a hill, above the Derwent, 3 miles W. by N. of Cockermouth. An almshouse was founded here in 1722, by Mr. Joseph Ashley, for four poor women, which he endowed with 8 per annum; and in 1735 he also endowed a school, with 20 19s. a year, for the education of the children of Great and Little Broughton. This school was re-built on a much larger scale in 1846, at a cost of 200, raised by subscription, except a government grant of 70. General Wyndham is lord of the manor of Great and Little Broughton, which were sold by the duke of Wharton's trustees to the duke of Somerset. The Wesleyans leave a small chapel here, built in 1846. Rateable value, about 1500. Population, 523.

Broughton (Little) is a village about a quarter of a mile from the above. Here is a Friends' Meeting House, built in 1656, and a Baptist Chapel, erected in 1672. This township is rated to the poor rate at 1235 6s. The soil belongs to various proprietors, several of whom are residents. Population, 297.

Dovenby, or Dolphinby, is a village and township, 2 miles N.W. of Cockermouth, containing about 1819 acres, rated at 1880. It took its name from Dolphin, son of Alward, who received this manor from the first lord of Allerdale, as the marriage dowry of his sister Maud, together with Applethwaite, Little Crosby, Langrigg, and Brigham, with the church there. His male descendants were seated here till the reign of Henry III, when it passed to one Roger de Roll. In the 33rd of Edward I, it was possessed by Thomas Lucy, and afterwards by Richard Kirkbride, whose grand-daughter carried it in marriage to a Lampleugh, and the manor, but not the demesne, subsequently passed to Ralph Cooke, Esq. The hall, with the estate, is at present the seat and property of Mrs. Mary Ballantine Dykes, who has now the manorial rights. In 1609, Sir Thomas Lamplugh founded an hospital here, for four poor widows, and also a grammar school; the former of which be endowed with the tithes of Redmain, in Isell parish, now worth 31 10s. a year, of which 27 10s. is distributed to six poor widows, and the other 4 is paid to the schoolmaster "for reading prayers at the hospital." Though nothing but the site of the hospital now remains, still, as Judge Bailey observed, it exists on "in flesh and blood, if not in bricks and mortar." The School endowment consists of land at Dovenby, part of the tithes of Brough, and the 4 a year already mentioned out of the Redmain tithes, amounting, collectively, to about 31 per annum. The school is a neat building, about a mile from the village, and was re-built in 1845, at the expense of Mrs. Dykes, and the principal inhabitants, aided by a government grant of 100. Mr. Thomas Latimer is the present master. Corn tithes Of Dovenby, 10. 8s.; small ditto, 20. Population, 217.

Papcastle and Goat, the former a village, occupying a pleasant and elevated situation on the north banks of the Derwent, 1 mile W.N.W. of Cockermouth; and the latter, forming the north-west suburb of that town, to which it is connected by a stone bridge across that noble river, constitute a township, comprising about 1500 acres of excellent land, rated at 1785, and a population of 461 souls. Papcastle was the seat of Waldeof, first lord of Allerdale, before he built the castle of Cockermouth, which was afterwards his baronial seat, and is said to have derived its name from Gilbert Pipard, who, it is probable, re-built this castle, and called it by his came. Dr. Stukely supposes its ancient name was Derventio, derived from the river Derwent. Here is the site of a Roman Castrum, where a great variety of coins, urns, inscriptions, the remains of baths, and several other antiquities, have been found, at a considerable depth. Camden says, "whether this be the Guasmorie, which Mimius5 tells us was built by king Guortigern near Luguballia, and that it was by the old Saxons called Palm Castle, I shall not determine." The male issue of Waldeof, failing in the second generation, the manor of Papcastle was conveyed in marriage with Ochtreda, to Duncan, brother to David, king of Scotland, from whom it passed, successively, to the Lucys, Multons, and the Dacres, and on the attainder of Leonard Dacre, came to the crown in the reign of queen Elizabeth, who, in 1596, granted it to Lancelot Salkeld, Thos. Braithwaite, and Richard Tolson, "who, it appears, soon after sold the same to the Lamplughs." Mrs. R. B. Dykes is now lady of the manor, and one of the principal land owners; but John Steel, Esq., and William Thorbourne, Esq., have good estates here. Corn tithes of this township, 21 7s. 9d.; small tithes, 28 14s.

Derwent Bank, the seat of John Steel, Esq., is a handsome mansion erected in 1846, on an elevation about one mile N. by W. of Cockermouth, overlooking the vale of the river, from which it has its name. In 1802, John Whinnay bequeathed 6 a year to the poor of this township.

Salathiel Court, a very singular and eccentric character, was born here early in the last century. He was a writing master, and in the first part of his life, was admired and respected, but his extraordinary turn for wit and humour, led him, as it has many a man of talent, into improper company, and to the forming of bad habits. He frequently painted signs for public houses, at which he was himself too often a living sign of dissipation. Being once employed to paint a lion for an innkeeper, he requested to be allowed to represent it chained, but the man would not go to the expense of such a security. Salathiel, to punish the parsimony of the host, painted the sign in water colours, so that on the first shower of rain to which it was exposed, the lion vanished. Being accused of unfair dealing, he replied that "the lion had indeed run away, but it was what might be expected in a wild beast - without a chain." He at length became the companion of beggars, for whom he wrote many humourous passes, which his employers exhibited throughout the country. He was continually getting into debt, and used to say, "such was the mode he took of communicating and enforsing Christian principles :- Faith gave him credit, and Repentance followed of course." He for some time professed the calling of bellman6, at Whitehaven, where he once cried a lost purse, thus :-

"A big, fat Frenchman lost his purse,
And he can't find it, which is worse;
He that lost it, let him seek it,
He that found it, let him keep it."

The Frenchman seeing the crowds that were attracted, and not understanding English, often addressed him in a low voice, with "ce bien, dat well." The purse, however, was restored. Amongst other unlawful practises in which Salathiel indulged, he frequently replenished his pitcher by celebrating illicit marriages7, for which the unfortunate fellow was ultimately transported to America8. "Bad company lays the foundation of everything that can deprave the heart, or disgrace a man;" and, as is well observed by a correspondent, in Hutchinson, "many through their wish to gain admiration amongst the vulgar, have neglected that which alone can give weight and importance to superiority of mental accomplishments - A VIRTUOUS CONDUCT.

Ribton township consists of four farm houses and a few cottages on the north bank of the Derwent, 5 miles W. of Cockermouth. There was formerly a chapel here, said to have been dedicated to St. Lawrence. The manor was granted by Waldeof, the first lord of Allerdale, to Waldeof, son of Gilmin whose younger son Thomas took the local name. It continued in this family for many ages, and was held by John, of that name, in the reign of Edward III, by the service of 2s. 8d. cornage, 8d. sea wake, puture of the sergeants, and suit of court at Papcastle, from three weeks to three weeks9. It was subsequently purchased by the Lamplughs, who sold it to the Lowthers, so that it is now the property of the earl of Lonsdale. No corn tithes in Ribton; small tithes, only 4. 6s. Rateable value, 583. Population, 26.

Tallantire township has a small village, 3 miles N. by W. of Cockermouth, and about half-a-mile N. W. of Bridekirk. It is situate on an eminence, which commands an extensive view of the Solway Frith; a great part of Scotland, and, in fine weather, the Isle of Man. This manor was granted by Waldeof, son of Gospatrick, to Odard, son of Lyolph, whose descendants took the local name of Tallantire. It was afterwards possessed by the Partis family, but is now the property of Wm. Browne, Esq., of Tallantire hall, who is also the principal landowner of this township. The tenants are all enfranchised. Number of acres; 1816, rateable value, 1843. Population, 237.


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




1. Cammerton, Isell and Tallantire are now Camerton, Isel and Tallentire respectively.
2. The Runic inscription - Bulmer offers an alternative reading, which is broadly followed by Pevsner - "Ricard he me iwrocte, and to dis merth gernr me brocte," which is translated as "Richard made me, and to this beauty brought me," beauty being interpreted as "this beautiful (or glorious) place."
3. Anne's Hill is now Annshill.
4. D.C.L. - Doctor of Civil Law.
5. Mimius - this may be Nennius, who wrote his Historia Brittonum (British History) in the early 9th century. He wrote about Guortigern (Vortigern), but I can't find a reference to Luguballia (Carlisle) in it.
6. Bellman - town crier.
7. "frequently replenished his pitcher by celebrating illicit marriages" - does this imply he impersonated a priest, and joined in the celebrations after the "service" ?
8. I would be pleased to hear how Salathiel Court fared in America.
9. "and suit of court at Papcastle, from three weeks to three weeks." I have no idea what this means.

Helen Gutteridge has advised me that the remains of a Roman fort have been discovered at the northern side of the church grounds, and that excavations were to take place in the summer of 2003. Clifford Jones has further advised that separate excavations are planned for this year (2006), one outside the church precincts, and another prior to extension of the church facilities. I will add a link to the excavation web-site when it is available.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman