Crosthwaite Parish

  > This parish is one of the largest and most interesting in the lake district, being upwards of ten miles in length, and eight in breadth; stretching westwards from Helvellyn and Great Dodd, to Great Gavel, Grasmoor, Grisedale-Pikes, and other mountains; and northwards from the confines of Westmorland to the mighty Skiddaw and Saddleback; and containing the two most beautiful lakes of Derwent-water and Thirlmere1, and having that of Bassenthwaite at its north-western extremity. Indeed, it may be said to unite within itself every requisite of the grandest, most beautiful, and picturesque scenery imaginable, disposed in the most delightful and attractive manner. At Borrowdale is found the celebrated plumbago, or black lead, and the parish yields lead and copper ore, but neither coal, limestone, nor freestone, is found here. This extensive parish is divided into five townships, (including five chapelries), viz.; Above-Derwent, (comprising the constablewicks or divisions of Braithwaite, Thornthwaite, Portinscale, and Newlands); Borrowdale; Keswick; St. John's Castlerigg and Wythburn; and Underskiddaw - which, according to the parliamentary return made in 1841, contains 58,330 acres, and 4759 inhabitants. Previous to the recent division of the county, Borrowdale, Braithwaite, Newlands, and Thornthwaite, were in Allerdale-Ward-Above, and the remainder in Allerdale-Ward-Below-Derwent, but the whole parish is now in the Derwent Division.

ashness.jpg (60845 bytes)Keswick 2 is a neat, but small, market town, consisting of one long street of good houses, near the lower end of Derwent-water, 13 miles E.S.E. of Cockermouth, 17 miles N.N.E. of Ambleside, 18 miles W. by S. of Penrith, and 293 miles from London. The Parish Church, which is an ancient structure, dedicated to St. Kentigern, stands aboutcrosthwaite.jpg (50641 bytes) half-a-mile N. by W. of the town, near the turnpike road, leading from Keswick to Cockermouth. It consists of a nave, north and south aisles, chancel, tower, and porch. In 1845, the whole of the roof, stalls, &c. were restored, at a cost of about £4,500, of which £4000 was given by James Stanger, Esq., of Laithwaite, and the remainder raised by subscription. The roof is of beautifully carved and stained pine; and the chancel window, and five others, are filled with stained glass, representing the crucifixion, and other scriptural subjects; and here is also a "memorial stained window," presented by the parishioners, "gratefully to commemorate the magnificent restoration and embellishments" of the church, effected by Mr. Stanger. In the interior is a fine marble monument to Dr. Southey, the late poet laureate, whose remains lie in the church yard; it was erected by his friends in 1846, at a cost of £1100, and consists of a full-length recumbent figure, in white marble, on an altar or pedestal of carved Caen stone, and bears a striking resemblance to the poet; it was executed by Lough. There is also in this church a monument to the Derwentwater family, dated 1527, with an appropriate inscription; and here are figures of a knight and lady, of a much older date. The baptismal font is octagonal, and bears on its sides the arms of Edward III, with several curious and well executed devices. The church was anciently rectorial, but was appropriated to Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire, by Alice de Romley; the bishop of Carlisle reserving to the see the patronage of the vicarage, which is in the incumbency of the Rev. James Lynn, M.A., who has for his curate the Rev. David Hunter, M.A. It is valued in the king's books at £50 8s. 11½d. and was certified to the Parliamentary commissioners, as of the average annual value of £312, but the tithes were commuted in 1845, for a yearly rent charge of £432 13s. 2d. The corn tithes, which were granted to purchasers, in trust for the owners of the land, have been commuted for £103 5s. There was a chantry in the church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, endowed with lands and tenements, which, after the dissolution, were granted, in the reign of Edward kes_stjohn2.jpg (35964 bytes)VI, to one Brende. The vicarage house occupies a pleasant situation, about a quarter of a mile from the church, commanding a beautiful prospect, and the views from the town towards the church, are truly magnificent. In the town is a new district church, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, erected a few years since, at the sole expense of the late John Marshall, Esq., M.P., of Leeds, and his family, by whom it is liberally endowed. It is a handsome structure of light pink stone, from Lazonby quarries, in the early English style of architecture, having a beautiful spire with a clock, but no chancel3, which is a very great architectural defect. The district allotted to this church contains about 1200 inhabitants, including a portion of the town of Keswick, and it is calculated to seat about 400 hearers. Mr. Marshall, who died during the progress of the work, is interred here. The patronage is vested in two trustees (one the representative of the Marshall family, and the other elected by the congregation) who appoint the incumbent alternately. The living is now enjoyed by the Rev. Frederic Myers, M.A. There is another district church at Thornthwaite, and Chapels of Ease at Borrowdale, Wythburn, Newlands, and the Vale of St. John.

The Free Grammar School, which adjoins the church yard, has existed from time immemorial, and is endowed with lands, now worth about £100 a year, £80 of which is paid to the master, and £5 a year is given in premiums to the children, of whom there are, on an average, about 80 in attendance. The school is open to all the children of the parish, and its management is vested in 18 trustees, chosen annually, and sworn by the vicar or curate, according to an ancient decree. Besides the grammar school, here is also a very neat building, erected in 1833, by Jas. Stanger, Esq., used as a Sunday school, and on the week days, as a female school of industry, where about 60 girls are taught reading, knitting, sewing, &c. for the small charge of 2d. per week each. Mr. Stanger presented the school with a good library, from which books are lent gratis; and a small organ, at which he himself presides every Sunday evening, when the children are taught singing. About 350 children attend the school on Sundays. Attached to St. John's church is another neat Sunday and infant school, erected in 1840, by Mr. Marshall, and now attended by about 80 children. There are in the town two small chapels belonging to the Methodists and Independents.

The Town Hall was built in 1843, on the site of the ancient court house, said to have been erected with the materials of the pleasure house which stood on Lord's Island, andkesmoot.jpg (30432 bytes) belonged to the Radcliffe family; and here is also the bell which belonged to the same place; it is inscribed "H.D.R.O. 1001." The ground floor of the building is used for a butter, egg, and poultry market; and the upper part is a convenient court room. A Court Baron and Customary Court is held in May, by the trustees of the lord of the manors (Reginald Dykes Marshall, who is a minor) of Castlerigg, Derwentwater, and Thornthwaite. In 1832 the late John Marshall, Esq. purchased the Derwentwater estate, comprising the above manors, of the Greenwich Hospital, and it is now in the hands of trustees for his eldest son. John Steel, Esqr. of Cockermouth, is their steward. Flintoft's celebrated model of the English lake district is exhibited here, (see below). Two of the following magistrates generally sit in the town hall, every Saturday, Thos. Story Spedding, Esq., Jas. Stanger, Esq., Joshua Stanger, Esq., and the Hon. J.H. Curzon; and the new County Court of Record is held monthly at the King's Arms Inn. Keswick is one of the polling places for the western division of the county.

The Savings' Bank here was opened in 1818, and at the close of the year 1846, the amount of its deposits was £12961 3s. 9d. belonging to 457 depositors. It is governed by six trustees and sixteen managers; one of each attending every Saturday. Mr. James Atkinson is actuary. A workhouse for the whole parish was founded here, in 1644, by Sir John Banks, who bequeathed lands, and the sum of £200 "for building a manufacturing house, and raising a stock for the employment and maintenance of the poor of the said parish." Since the new Poor Law came into operation, this building has been converted into a charity house, where 20 poor persons, above the age of 70, are supported from the fruits of this charity, now amounting to about £160 a year. The museum, at Keswick, was established in 1780, by the late Peter Crosthwaite, formerly a naval commander in the East Indies, publisher of maps of the lakes of Cumberland, &c. and inventor of the Æolian harp. He was succeeded by his son, the late Daniel Crosthwaite, who has left behind him a most extensive and valuable collection of curiosities; and is now conducted by Mr. John Fisher Crosthwaite, for the sole benefit of his mother, widow of the above-named Daniel. Mr. Peter Crosthwaite, the founder of the museum, is said to have been the discoverer of the first set of musical stones in England. They were discovered by him, in 1785, and consist of two octaves, upon which a number of tunes may be heard. These may be seen at the museum, where the Æolian harp, and all kinds of rare and valuable minerals are on sale. The various mineral productions of the neighbourhood, as well as of other countries, may also be had at the establishment of Mr. John Cowper, mineralogist, jeweller, &c.; and likewise at other places in the town. There is also, for the amusement of visitors, at the house of Mr. Wm. Rowe, an exhibition of the rare musical powers of nature's own instrument, the Rock Harmonicon, which is composed of rough stones from the neighbouring mountains, and extends to a compass of above five octaves, with all the additional semitones, possessing all the richness of the piano-forte. The tone is produced by striking gently upon the stones with six wooden mallets, and the music is executed by three performers, one playing the melody, another an inner part, and the third the fundamental bass.

The weekly market, on Saturday, is abundantly supplied with corn and provisions, and has been held since the reign of king Edward I. Fairs for cattle are held on October 11th, and on the three alternate days after the 1st of May. A fair for rams and cheese is held on the Saturday after the 29th October; and hirings for servants at Whitsuntide and Martinmas. The principal inns are the Royal Oak and Queen's Head, but here are several other comfortable public houses, and neatly-furnished private lodgings, for the accommodation of visitors. Post-chaises and ponies, with intelligent guides, may be had here for land excursions; and neat pleasure boats, with experienced boatmen, for the water.

Derwent Lake4 is of an oblong form, about three miles in length and a mile and a half in breadth, extending southwards from the suburbs of Keswick to the vicinity of Lowdore waterfall5. Its shores are indented in the most agreeable manner, and it appears to be entirely encircled with mountains, so that its scenery is of the most magnificent description, "and visitors are at a loss which to admire most, the broken rocky mountains of Borrowdale on the south, the smooth lines of Newlands on the west, or the towering Skiddaw, which closes the view to the north." Its surface is interspersed with five islands, the chief of which are Lord's Island, Vicar's Island, and St. Herbert's Island.

Lord's Island contains about five acres, nearly covered with woods, and was once the property of the Derwentwater family, the ruins of whose mansion here still remain. This, and a smaller one called Ramp-sholm6, were purchased in 1832, by John Marshall, Esq., of Leeds, from the Greenwich Hospital, to which institution they were given , together with the rest of the confiscated estates of James Ratcliffe, earl of Derwentwater, who derived his title from this lake which is comprehended in the parish of Crosthwaite. The Derwentwater family were seated here from the reign of Edward I. Sir Nicholas Ratcliffe, of Dilston, in Northumberland, married the heiress of the family in the reign of king Henry VI. Francis, his descendant, was created by James II baron of Dilston, viscount Langley and Ratcliffe, and earl of Derwentwater. James, his son, by engaging in the rebellion of 1715, forfeited these titles together with his life and estate.

Vicar's Island, containing about six acres, apparently received its name from its having formerly appertained to Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire. At the dissolution of that religious house it was granted by Henry VIII to a John Williamson. It came into the hands of the Ponsonbies, of Hale, in later times, and afterwards of Mr. Pocklington, who sold it to General Peachy. It was purchased, in 1844, by H.C. Marshall, Esq., who makes the beautiful villa there his summer residence.

St. Herbert's Island, containing about four acres, is nearly in the centre of the lake, and has its name from St. Herbert, a priest and confessor, who, about the middle of the seventh century, made it his lonely abode, and who obtained his desire of departing this life on the same day and moment with St. Cuthbert, his bosom friend, in the year 688. Such was the veneration paid in after ages to this solitary abode of the hermit, that the anniversary of his death was celebrated here for several centuries, and the day dedicated to holy services, processions, and other religious ceremonies. The remains of his hermitage, both chapel and cell, are still visible. Near these hallowed ruins, Sir Wilfred Lawson (to whose representative the island now belongs,) erected a small octagonal cottage about forty years ago, presenting rather a venerable appearance; but how that family came into possession of this island is unknown; it certainly belonged to the church till the dissolution of the monasteries.

Otter Isle, in a bay near the head of the lake, is very small, but commands some excellent views. Pieces of rocks, called Tripotholm and Lingholms stand above the surface. Besides these islets there is also an occasional one denominated the Floating Island, observed at intervals at the south-east corner of the lake, within one hundred and fifty yards of where the water is generally about six feet deep. It rises from the bottom of the lake to the surface, and still adhering by its sides to the adjacent earth, is never removed from its place. It sometimes covers as much as half an acre, whilst at other times, only a few perches. It never rises higher than the surface of the lake, and generally continues only a few weeks, though in 1831 it continued from the tenth of June till the twenty-fourth of September, being the longest period ever remembered. In 1834 and 1835 it was above water only for a few weeks in each year, in August and September: it also appeared in 1837, 1842, 1846, and for about a week in August 1847. For a few inches in depth it is composed of a clayey layer in which the Littorella lacustris, the Lobelia dortmanna, Isoetes lacustris, and other plants common in this and all the neighbouring lakes, have fixed their roots; the rest is a congeries of decayed vegetable matter, forming a stratum of loose peat earth about six feet thick. The most probable cause of this phenomenon is "that air or gas is generated in the body of the island by the decomposition of the vegetable matter of which it is formed; and this gas being produced most copiously, as well as being more rarefied in hot weather, the earth at length becomes so much distended therewith, as to render the mass of less weight than an equal bulk of water. The water then insinuating itself between the substratum of clay and the peat earth forming the island bears it to the surface where it continues for a time, till partly by escape of the gas, partly by its absorption, and partly by its condensation, consequent on a decrease of heat, the volume is reduced, and the earth gradually sinks to its former level, where it remains till a sufficient accumulation of gas again renders it buoyant."

Derwentwater has another peculiarity, called the bottom wind, by which it is violently agitated, nor does it regain its tranquility till the confined air has spent its force. In consequence of the floods, which in heavy rains pour down the steep mountains on every side into the lake, its surface is often raised six or seven feet, and in some extraordinary cases even more, above its lowest water mark. This lake is not in any part more than fourteen fathoms deep, and a great portion is less than four fathoms; so that its surface being large in proportion to its depth, causes it to be sooner cooled down to the freezing point. Its water is light, pure, and transparent; and it abounds with trout, perch, pike, and eel. In severe frosts its surface becomes one expanded sheet of ice7 sufficient to bear the weight of horses and carts. In January, 1814, the ice attained the thickness of ten inches.

So varied, interesting, and complicated are the views on the Derwent lake that they must be seen to be duly appreciated, for no verbal description can do them justice. Parties navigating the lake may be landed upon the different islands, and also at Barrow and Lowdore; at the latter place there is an inn, "where a cannon is kept for the echo, which on a favourable opportunity is very fine." The reverberation in fine weather may be distinctly heard nine times; but as Don Manuel said, "English echoes appear to be the most expensive luxuries in which a traveller can indulge."

Lowdore Cascade (the Niagara of England8) which constitutes one of the grandest sights in the lake district, is situate on the margin of Derwentwater lake, and about four miles south of Keswick. It is a considerable stream, rushing through an immense chasm, and bounding with great fury over and amidst the huge blocks of stones with which the channel is filled. The height of the fall is 150 feet. To the left, Gowder Crag rises perpendicular to the height of nearly 500 feet; and to the right, from the fissures of Shepherd's Crag, the ash, oak, birch, holly and wild rose, hang in luxuriant profusion.

castlerigg1.jpg (24318 bytes)In a field about a mile and a half east by north of Keswick, the remains of a Druids' Temple 9 occupy a circular area of thirty-eight yards in diameter, surrounded by thirty-eight rough stones, from three to eight feet in height, and having ten other stones within, forming a square on its eastern side.

Within five miles of the town are five strongholds10, viz., Castle Crag, Castlet, Ree Castle, Castle How, and a second Castle Crag.

In 1844 a mineral spring was discovered in this township, the virtues of which are said to be the same as those of Shap Wells. The Keswick Gaslight company was established in 1846; and the town is now illuminated with well-purified gas. Here are lodges of Odd Fellows and Foresters. A young men's improving society has been lately formed in the town, and now possesses a good library.

About half-a-mile N. by W. of the town is Lairthwaite, the pleasant seat of James Stanger, Esq., who possesses several interesting mementos of his late friend and neighbour, Dr. Southey, amongst which are his chair and table, a large portion of his library, and a magnificently carved state canoe, (of cocoa11) formerly belonging to one of the chiefs of the South Sea Islands, and presented to the poet by Mr. Wm. Ellis, late secretary to the London Missionary Society. The other principal mansions in this neighbourhood are Greta Hall, the residence of Chas. Wm. Rothery, Esq., Greta Bank, the seat of Thos. S. Spedding, Esq.; Field Side, the seat of Joshua Stanger, Esq.; Vicar's Island, the summer residence of H.C. Marshall, Esq.; Derwent Bay, the occasional residence of major-general Sir John Woodford; Castelette Cottage, the seat of the Hon. John Henry Curzon; and Derwent Hill, the seat of J. Turner, Esq.

Biography - Amongst the constellation of poets and literary men, who have been born in this parish, resided, or still reside, here, may be enumerated the following :- Sir John Banks, chief justice of the common pleas, who was born at Keswick in 1589, and died in the heat of the civil wars, in 1642. He bequeathed property now amounting to about £200 to the poor of his native town. Dr. Brownrigg, who died in 1800, at his seat in Ormanthwaite12; Peter Crosthwaite, a man of considerable ingenuity, is already noticed. Dr. Southey, the late poet laureate, who was born at Bristol, August 12th, 1744, resided for nearly forty years at Greta Hall, near this town, where he died March 21st, 184313; William Green, an eminent landscape painter, published in 1819 a description of the lakes, mountains, and scenery of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, "being the result of observations made during a residence of 18 years in Ambleside, near Keswick." Mr. Jonathan Otley, an eminent mineralogist, now living in Keswick, published in 1842 a seventh edition of his Perspicacious and Comprehensive Guide to the Lake District. Mr. Joseph Flintoft, constructor of the celebrated "Model of the English Lake District," has resided in this town since 1823: he was born in 1796, at the village of Lastingham, near Kirby-moor-side , in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and took up his residence near Keswick for the purpose of enjoying the pleasure of angling and shooting; but a few years, having given him a satiety of such pursuits, he commenced the modelling of the district; and after six years of anxious toil and labour, produced such a model or outline - the very living aspect and semblance of the district itself - as has met with the approbation of the most eminent scientific and literary characters of the day; vain indeed would be the attempt to describe this beautiful work of art, it must be seen to be duly appreciated. Coloured to nature, on a scale of 3 in. to the mile, all the mountains, valleys, rivers, roads, plantations, towns, houses, mines, lakes, and tarns, are exhibited in an area of 1200 square miles; distance 51 by 37. Mr. F. is now about to publish, by subscription, another model on a more portable scale, on papier maché, coloured in oil, the size of which will be 4 ft. 4 in. by 3 ft. 6½ in., depicting 52 miles by 42½, being an area of upwards of 1400 square miles. The scale of the latter will be one mile to an inch.

Above Derwent township comprises the constablewicks of Braithwaite, Newlands, Portinscale and Thornthwaite, and its rateable value is about £3580. Braithwaite is a village at the lower end of Winlatter14, 2½ miles W. by N. of Keswick. It also contains the hamlets of Little Braithwaite and Porter How; the latter of which is 4½ miles N.W. of Keswick. In the village is a large woollen manufactory, belonging to Joshua Sim & Sons; and at Force Cragg is a lead mine, which produces about 100 bings15 of ore per year, yielding above 70 per cent in lead, and from 30 to 40 ounces of silver. General Wyndham is lord of the manor of Braithwaite and Coledale, and his tenants here pay arbitrary fines. These manors, with Newlands and Portinscale, form what is now denominated the manor of Derwent Fells. In the village is a neat School, with a residence for the teacher, built in 1842, at a cost of above £500, of which £200 was given by John Crosthwaite, Esq., of Liverpool, (a native of Braithwaite), and the remainder by James Stanger, Esq., of Lairthwaite; and each gives £10 a year to the master, who has also quarter pence from the scholars. There is a letter receiving house in the village. Here are two corn mills and a black lead pencil manufactory.

Newlands chapelry contains the hamlet of Little Town and a few dispersed dwellings, about four miles S.W. of Keswick. Large quantities of ore have been found at Huithwaite16 lead mine, but it has not been wrought for some years. The ores got here were the sulphuret, or common galena, the white and brown carbonates, and occasionally the green phosphate of lead. Goldscap17 copper mine and Dale Head lead mine, after laying dormant for a number of years, are now worked by a company, lately established; and furnaces for separating the sulphur from the copper are being erected. The mountain called Hind Scar18 pushes its bold front with much grandeur into this vale, at the head of which is a quarry of roofing slate. At Stairs is a mill for carding and spinning wool, belonging to J. Williamson & Son. Mr. West, speaking of this neighbourhood, says, "above Keskadale, the last houses in Newlands, no traces of human industry appear; all is simple nature. The vale now becomes a dell, and the road a path. The lower parts are pastured with a motley herd; the middle tract is assumed by the flocks; the upper regions - to man inaccessible - are abandoned to the birds of Jove. Here untamed nature holds her reign in solemn silence, amidst the gloom of a dreary solitude." It is not quite so bad now as it was then, for a carriage road has since been made from Keswick, through Newlands, to Buttermere. The chapel of ease was rebuilt in 1843, at a cost of about £180, viz., £70 raised by subscription, £32 collected amongst the inhabitants of the chapelry, £10 given by the queen dowager, and the remainder contributed by the incumbent. It is a plain but neat building, with Norman windows, a small porch, and a bell turret, carrying two bells. In 1845 a stained east window was added by the inhabitants, both as a compliment to the incumbent and in commemoration of the rebuilding of the chapel. The curacy, which is in the patronage of the vicar of Crosthwaite and incumbency of the Rev. John Monkhouse, was certified to the commissioners at £51, but is now worth about £80 per annum, arising from lands purchased in 1757 with £600 received from queen Anne's bounty. Attached to the church is a neat school, built chiefly by subscription; and the incumbent guarantees £40 a year to the master. The average annual number of baptisms at the chapel is about eight.

Portinscale has a neat village near the foot of Derwent lake, 1¼ mile N.W. of Keswick; and in its vicinity are the following pleasant villas, Derwent hill, the residence of Mr. Turner, Derwent bay, and Derwent bank, belonging to major-general Sir John Woodford, with a few other good dwellings. The Blucher hotel occupies a delightful situation in the village, at the lower end of the lake, and contains excellent accommodations. Attached to it are neat public gardens or pleasure grounds, and here is an interesting aviary, in which, amongst several other valuable birds, are two beautiful golden eagles19 - perhaps the only birds of the kind in the north of England; it also contains a very unique apiary. Boats are kept here for the convenience of visitors. The neighbouring heights command good views of the lakes of Derwent and Bassenthwaite, with all the sylvan and fertile country from Swineside to Skiddaw. Portinscale was formerly denominated the manor of Coledale, but it has long been included in the manor of Derwent Fells, of which general Wyndham is the present lord.

Mrs. Richardson, a lady of this village, is now in her 102nd year, and can both read and write, take exercise, and overlook her household affairs admirably.

Ullock is a small hamlet in this constablewick, 2½ miles N.W. of Keswick.

Thornthwaite contains a small village on the Cockermouth new road, 3½ miles W.N.W. of Keswick. Here is a woollen manufactory, belonging to John Sim & Sons, and a saw mill kept by Thomas McGlasson, of Embleton. A company have recently commenced operations at the old lead mine, which had not been wrought for several years, but no opinion can yet be formed as to the result. Thornthwaite chapel of ease has recently been constituted a district church, and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The living was augmented at the same time with the sum of £2000, given by James Stanger, Esq., and capt. Henry (viz. £1000 each) on condition that the division of Braithwaite, containing a population of 280, should be annexed, and that the patronage should be vested conjointly in the incumbent of St. John's, Keswick, and the vicar of Crosthwaite - the latter of whom was previously patron of the chapelry. The district assigned to this church is titled Thornthwaite cum Braithwaite. The church is a small plain building, near the head of Bassenthwaite lake, and the perpetual curacy is now enjoyed by the Rev. C. M. Christie. The bishop obtained a grant of £800 from two societies, towards providing a parsonage house, which was purchased in 1845, and the residue of the money placed in the 3¼ per cent stock. The benefice was certified to the parliamentary commissioners as of the average annual value of £59, but it is now worth about £100 a year. The manor belongs to the executors of the late John Marshall, Esq.

Borrowdale township and chapelry comprises the hamlets of Grange, Rosthwaite, Seathwaite, and Seatoller, with a few dispersed dwellings, and extends from three to nine miles S. of Keswick. The largest proprietors of the soil are Abraham Fisher, Esq., of Seatoller, and Mr. Thomas Simpson, of Rosthwaite, but Sir Wilfred Lawson, Bart. is lord of the manor, which is of little value, the land being nearly all enfranchised. Between Grange and Rosthwaite lies the famous Bowder stone, a huge piece of rock resembling a ship lying with her keel upwards; but historians are not precisely agreed as to whether it is an independent creation, or has been the appendage of a neighbouring mountain. It is sixty feet long, thirty feet high, and eighty-four feet in circumference, and contains about 23,090 solid feet of stone, weighing upwards of 1771 tons.

In the southern part of this romantic vale, near Seathwaite20, is the celebrated black lead21 or wad mine. The richness and purity of the Wad of these valuable mines is unequalled by any other of the like material in the world. It has been opened at different places where the Wad had probably appeared on the surface. The rock, which is a grey felspar porphyry, is intersected in various directions, by strings or small rake veins, some of which contain a superficial glazing of black lead, without the substance. The Wad is only found in sops or bellies formed by the intersection s of the veins, which are often at a considerable distance from each other. At what period this mine was opened is uncertain, but it is said to have been worked at intervals since the reign of Elizabeth. Formerly it was only worked at intervals of about seven years; for when a quantity of wad had been procured to supply the demand for a few years, it was strongly closed up until the stock was reduced; but latterly has been worked for a succession of years. An old level, re-opened in 1769, was found to have been cut without the aid of gunpowder; and a sort of pipe vein having been pursued to the depth of more than a hundred yards, much inconvenience was experienced; to obviate which an audit or level, two hundred yards in length, was cut from the side of the hill in 1798. The works have been since carried on internally through various branches: the water passing off through the principal level, whilst the wad and rubbish are conveyed out upon a railway, in a small wagon. A house, in which the workmen are undressed and examined every time they leave the mine, is built over the mouth of the audit. Owing to the great value of this wad, and the facilities afforded for disposing of it in an unmanufactured state, the greatest precaution has been found necessary in order to prevent its being purloined; and for its further protection, an Act of Parliament was passed, 25th George II, cap 10th, in the preamble of which this mineral is said to be "necessary for divers useful purposes, and more particularly in the casting of bomb-shells, round shot, and cannon balls." Its use is now well known to every housemaid, in cleansing and glossing cast iron work, such as stoves, grates, &c.; and being capable of enduring a great heat without fusing or cracking, it is used in the manufacture of crucibles; and its excellence in diminishing friction in wooden screws and other machinery, makes it become an ingredient in several anti-attrition compositions. But its principal use is in pencils, for which Keswick has long been celebrated.

The pencil makers have to buy all their black lead in London, as the proprietors of the mine do not suffer any to be sold till it has been lodged in their own warehouses, where it is exposed for sale on the first Monday in every month. The best of the wad got here is about twice as heavy as water, and sells for about 36s. per pound. It is met with in lumps of irregular shapes and sizes, requiring no other process to prepare it for market, than freeing the pieces from any stony or extraneous matter which may adhere to them; and is then assorted and packed according to its different degrees of size and purity.

By an account published in 1804, the stock on hand was valued at £54,000, and the annual consumption stated at about £3,500; the mine was consequently rated for the property tax in 1815 at £2,700, though when granted by James I to one William Whitmore and Thomas Vernon, the yearly rent was only 15s. 4d.

This mine has been very unproductive for some years, only ten to twelve men being employed in it at present. Half of it is the property of Sir George Banks, M.P.

Mr. West, in his description of Borrowdale, says, "rocks riot over rock, and mountain intersecting mountain, forms one semicircular sweep;" and Mr. Gilpin says - "as we edged the precipices we everywhere saw fragments of rocks and large stones scattered about, which, being loosened by frosts and rains, had fallen from the cliffs above, and show the traveller what dangers he has escaped." In this valley are those remarkable yew trees mentioned by Wordsworth in his poem of "The Excursion." The chapel of ease is a small edifice near Rosthwaite, 6½ miles S. of Keswick. The curacy is in the patronage of the vicar of Crosthwaite and incumbency of the Rev. George Newby. It is endowed with lands in Coulton and Crosthwaite, purchased with £800, of which £600 was obtained from queen Anne's bounty, in 1744, 1752, and 1762, and £200 was given by the dowager lady Gower. The living was returned to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average annual value of £62, but is now worth about £80 a year, exclusive of a commodious parsonage house, erected , near the chapel, at a cost of about £1000 (including £100 for the site), £800 of which were contributed by Abraham Fisher, Esq., and the remaining £200 obtained from queen Anne's bounty. Grange, about four miles S. by W. of Keswick, is surrounded by an awful amphitheatre of mountains. Rosthwaite hamlet is about six miles S. of Keswick. Seathwaite, Seatoller, and Stonethwaite are neighbouring hamlets, near the black lead mine, nine miles S.W. of Keswick. Mr. Gilpin says of this dale - "Here, in the depth of winter, the sun never shines. As the spring advances, his rays begin to shoot over the southern mountains, and, at noon, to tip the chimney tops of the village." On one of these tremendous cliffs near Stonethwaite is Eagle's Cragg, where formerly those birds built their nests, till the shepherds destroyed both their eggs and nestlings; "to effect which, a man was slung in a rope and let down the impending cliff, at the risk of his life."

Watendlath22 is a range of rocky mountains, projecting over a deep glen, in which are two tarns, and the stupendous cascade of Lowdore.

St. John's chapelry, which forms a joint township with Castlerigg and the chapelry of Wythburn, extends from two to five miles S.E. of Keswick, and comprises the two romantic and highly picturesque vales of St. John. The mountains of Naddle-Fell23 divide the two vales, and here stands the chapel of ease, dedicated to St. John - distant three miles E.S.E. of Keswick. It is a neat and substantial edifice, rebuilt in 1845, at a cost of about £290 raised by subscription and a rate levied on the lands of the chapelry. The roof is of stained pine, and the whole of the interior is tastefully painted. It has a small belfry and porch, and is calculated to seat about 230 persons, though the chapelry contains only a few dispersed houses, and the whole township only 499 inhabitants. In 1719 the curacy was augmented with £500, of which £200 was obtained from queen Anne's bounty, £200 given by Dr. Gasgarth, and the remainder by the inhabitants. It was returned by the ecclesiastical commissioners at £63, but is now worth about £70 per annum. The earl of Lonsdale and the landowners are patrons alternately, and the Rev. Edward Wilson is the incumbent, for whom the Rev. James Bush, jun., officiates. Near the chapel stands a public school, endowed with £5 a year, to which is added £21, the yearly subscription of five gentlemen. In the chapel yard is an excellent spring well, not unworthy of notice. The manor, being within that of Castlerigg, now belongs to the executors of the late John Marshall, Esq. Wanthwaite is a very narrow dell, hemmed in by mountains, through which runs a meandering brook - a branch of the river Greta. On the 22nd of August, 1749, there fell here such a water spout as in less than two hours deluged the whole valley many feet deep, sweeping away all the bridges, walls, houses, &c., and so effectually erasing the corn mill "that one of its stones has not been found to this day." A short distance from where the mill stood, an excavation was made in the side of the mountain "that would hold St Paul's." This remarkable fall of water was accompanied with the most terrible thunder and incessant lightning imaginable; and, what seems uncommon, "a buzzing noise, like that of a malt kiln, or the sound of the wind in the tops of trees," is said to have been heard "for two hours together before the clouds broke." In the widest part of the dale is a separate broken and rugged rock, called Green Crag24, "which stands threatening the valley," and, to a distant observer, has the appearance of an ancient ruined castle, rising from the summit of a little mount. The vale, to the S.W. of Naddle-Fell, extends for some distance between the fell and Castlerigg, and is more verdant than the others, yet here too are many picturesque beauties. This chapelry also includes Legburthwaite, Fornside, Wanthwaite, and Burns. Dale Head Hall is the property of Thomas Leathes Stanger Leathes, Esq., who is lord of the manor of Legburthwaite, and the residence of the Revds. James Bushby, sen. and jun.

Castlerigg is a wild and rocky district, about 1¼ mile S.E. of Keswick, near the site of the ancient castle of the Derwentwater family. Some fine romantic views may be obtained from the ridge leading from this hamlet to Keswick.

Wythburn chapelry, and joint township with St. John, contains a small hamlet called "the City," near the head of Thirlmere lake, 8 miles S.S.E. of Keswick. The chapelry extends from 5 to 10 miles S. by E. of the same town, to the confines of Westmorland, where the boundaries of the two counties are marked by Dunmail Raise Stones. Mr. Pennant thus mentions these stones :- "On a high pass between the hills, observe a large cairn, called Dunmail Raise Stones, collected in memory of a defeat (A.D. 956) given to a petty king of Cumberland of that name25, by Edward I, who, with the usual barbarity of the times, put out the eyes of his two sons, and gave his country to Malcolm, king of Scotland, on condition that he preserved in peace the northern parts of England." The chapel of ease is a small humble edifice near "the City" and the high road, in the patronage of the vicar of Crosthwaite and incumbency of the Rev. Isaac Denton, for whom the Rev. James Bushby, sen., of Dale Head hall officiates. The curacy was augmented in 1742 and 1772 with £800; of which £200 was given by the dowager countess Gower, and the remaining £600 was obtained from queen Anne's bounty. This money was laid out in the purchase of lands in Crosthwaite, Great Salkeld, and Grasmere, "of the yearly value," says Hutchinson, "of £75;" but the living is now worth £82 per annum. Wythburn manor formerly belonged to the Braithwaites, of Warcop, till sold by them to Sir George Fletcher, of Hutton, with whose posterity it still remains. It is bounded on the north by St. John's and Castlerigg, by Borrowdale and Watendlath on the west, and by the towering Helvellyn on the east.

Underskiddaw township has no village of its own name, but contains the hamlets of Great Crosthwaite, Applethwaite, High Hill, and Millbeck. Its rateable value is £3415, and the principal landowners are major-genl. Sir John Woodford, the executors of the late John Marshall, Esq., James Stanger, Esq., Sir John B. Walsh, Bart., and Mrs. Turner; but the bishop of Landaff26 is lord of the manor of Brunholm, which includes the whole township: the tenants however are enfranchised. The parish church, grammar school, and Sunday school, described above, are in this township. Applethwaite, 1½ mile N. of Keswick, is situate at the end of a "deep and wild chasm," where Messrs. W. & R. Clark have a woollen manufactory. Ormanthwaite, a good dwelling, a little to the E.S.E., is the property of Sir J. B. Walsh. Great Owsthwaite27 and High Hill are two small hamlets near Keswick. Mill Beck is two miles N. of Keswick, and here the Messrs. Dover & Co. have a woollen manufactory, at which a considerable number of hands are employed. Skiddaw Bank, the residence of Mr. Dover, commands a fine prospect of the woodlands round the head of Bassenthwaite. The population of Underskiddaw township, in 1841, was 519.


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




1. Thirlmere was later dammed, and thus much increased in area, to provide water for Manchester.
2. Keswick is shown here lying at the feet of Skiddaw on the shores of Derwentwater. In the foreground is Ashness Bridge, on the road to Watendlath.
3. This must have had a chancel added at a later date, as it is mentioned by Pevsner.
4. The descriptions of Derwent Water and its islands, Lodore falls, Castlerigg stone circle, the Bowder stone, and the black lead mines are all interpolated from other sections of the directory.
5. Lowdore is now Lodore.
6. Ramps-holm is now known as Rampsholme Island.
7. Derwent Water freezing over - I remember the big freeze of the winter of 1962-3 when the lake was completely frozen over; cars were driven right over the lake.
8. To describe Lodore Falls as the Niagara of England is exaggeration indeed.
9. The Druids' Temple is usually referred to as Castlerigg stone circle; and is also known as The Carles. It is generally reckoned by connoisseurs to be one of the earliest and finest in Britain.
10. The five strongholds - Castle Crag lies to the south of Derwent Water; Reecastle lies on the slopes of High Seat, to the S.E. of the lake; I would welcome suggestions as to the identity of the others. There is very little to be seen at either of these two sites, but they are generally described as iron age fortifications.
11. Southey's canoe was presumably carved from cocoa tree wood.
12. Ormanthwaite - now Ormathwaite. William Brownrigg, M.D., F.R.S., made investigations into the explosive gases sometimes evident in coal mines, and into mineral springs, etc.
13. A long list of Dr. Southey's works is omitted.
14. Winlatter, which is a pass through the hills, is now rendered Whinlatter.
15. For definitions of bing, and other mining terms, see the Alston entry.
16. Huithwaite - presumably the old mine workings at Yewthwaite.
17. Goldscap is now rendered Goldscope.
18. Hind Scar is now Hindscarth. Newlands is without question one of my favourite places in the Lake District.
19. Golden eagles, absent from Cumbria for many decades, returned in the early 1970's. One pair has nested near Haweswater for many years, with mixed success, and the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) runs a manned observation point during the nesting period.
20. Seathwaite is the wettest village in England, typically receiving well over 3 metres of rain a year.
21. Black lead, plumbago, or wad, is graphite, and is the reason for the existence of the Keswick pencil manufacturing industry. The mine has not been in production for many years.
22. Watendlath is a charming hamlet in a stunningly beautiful setting. I think the text above should read "Watendlath lies within a range of rocky mountains", or similar.
23. Naddle-Fell must be what is now called High Rigg.
24. Green Crag - is this what is now known as Castle Rock ?
25. King Dunmail is also known as Donald, the son of Aed. He ruled 940 - 943, and was killed by Edmund, not Edward. His kingdom covered south-west Scotland and probably the whole of the present Cumbria.
26. Bishop of Landaff - Llandaff is in south Wales.
27. Great Owsthwaite is not shown on the map. Andrew Brannan (private communication) advises that the name is not known locally, but the description of its location is consistant with it being a typo for Great Crosthwaite. This is probably confirmed by the fact that, in the listings of people living in that township, no-one is recorded as living at Great Owsthwaite.

Photos © Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman