Distington1 Parish

  > Containing only about three square miles, is bounded by the parishes of Moresby, Harrington, Arlecdon, Lamplugh, and Dean. The soil varies from a fertile loam to sand and clay, and is refreshed by a small brook, and numerous springs. It contains coal mines, and extensive limestone quarries and kilns, the property of the earl of Lonsdale and Captain J. R. Walker; and at Barngill-gate is a quarry yielding great quantities of barley millstones, grindstones, and rigstones2. The parish contains 1108 souls, 3092 rateable acres of land, and it is rated at 4046 16s. 10d. but this valuation is subject to vary according to the good or ill success of the coal pits. The principal land owners are the earl of Lonsdale; Captain Walker, R.N.; Henry Curwen, Esq., and John Peile, Esq.

Distington is a large village, chiefly consisting of one long street of well built houses, on the high road from Whitehaven to Workington. 4 miles N.N.E. of the former, and 4 miles S. of the latter town. There is in the village, an edge tool manufactory, worked by Mr. Thos. Smith, and a museum, containing many curiosities, (but not yet open to the public) the property of Mr. Joseph W. Wallace, one of the editors of the "Manx Liberal," who occasionally resides here. About half a mile south of the village are the venerable ruins of Hayes Castle, once the residence of the noble families of Moresby and Distington; and is supposed to have been the ancient manor house. The Moresby family received the manor of Distington in exchange from Thomas Lucy, for Brackenthwaite, in Loweswater, to whom it had descended after several generations, from Gilbert de Dundraw, son of Odard de Logis, lord of the barony of Wigton, who lived in the reigns of Richard I and King John. Distington passed from the Moresbys to the family of Dykes, who sold it to sir James Lowther, from whom it descended to the earl of Lonsdale, who is now lord of the manor.

The church3 is situated on an eminence west of the village, and is an ancient structure, consisting of a nave and chancel, a south porch, and a bell turret with two bells. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 7 1s. 0d. and was certified at 67 12s. 9d, but is now worth upwards of 300. The ancient glebe belonging to the rectory is 90 acres, besides which there are nearly 600 acres of common land. The earl of Lonsdale is patron, and the Rev. Henry Lowther, M.A. is the incumbent. Near the church is a Sunday school, erected by the parish, in 1836. There is also in the village a Wesleyan, and a Primitive Methodist chapel, the former built in 1830, and the latter in 1838. A parochial school was erected here in 1754, but it has no endowment, except three acres of land taken out of the common; nor are there any bequests to the poor of this parish. The longevity of the inhabitants of Distington is remarkable. In 1831 there were two persons, aged respectively 92 years, buried here; in 1832, one 88; in 1833, one 86; in 1834, one 87; in 1836, one 98; in 1837, one 95; in 1839, one 86, and one 88; and in 1840, one 86, and one 100.

Gilgarran is a hamlet 2 miles E. of Distington. The stately mansion of Capt. James Robertson Walker, R.N. is situated here; and near to the village of Distington are Prospect House, the seat of Major Henry Caldecot and Belle Vue, the residence of John Stanley, M.D.



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




1. Distington is pronounced "Dissington".
2. "rigstones" - rig is dialect for "ridge", often used when referring to roofs. It may be that rigstones were some kind of stone suitable for roofing.
3. The church in the photo of course post-dates the directory.

Photo Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman