Gilcrux1 Parish

  This is another small parish, being only about 2 miles in length, and three quarters of a mile in breadth, containing only 1961A. 1R. 3P., rated at 2160, and 496 inhabitants. It lies on the south-side of the river Ellen, between Dearham and Torpenhow, and is comprehended in one manor and township, which was part of the possessions of Calder Abbey, having been given to that religious house by Thomas and Walter Bonekill, but was previously a dependant manor of the barony of Allerdale, till granted by the first lord to Lyulph, whose heiress married a Bonekill. After the dissolution it was granted by Philip and Mary to Alexander Armstrong, and his male heirs, under the condition of providing five horses, well caparisoned, whenever summoned, within the county of Cumberland; but it reverted to the crown in the 17th of Elizabeth, and was granted to Soaky and Grunson, to hold as of the manor of East Greenwich, from whom it passed to the Dykes, and is now the property, of Mrs. Mary B. Dykes, of Dovenby hall, who is also the principal land owner. Hutchinson says "the vicar has about six tenants, who pay 12s. rent and a 2d. fine, on the death or alienation." Large quantities of coal and limestone are found here. and there is also freestone in the parish.

Gilcrux, or Gilcruix, village, which is nearly of a triangular form, is distant about 5 miles E. of Maryport, and 6 N. of Cockermouth. "This parish is perhaps the most remarkable of any in England, for the fineness and number of its springs." In the village, a fine spring rises almost at every door, and when united, form a considerable stream. In a field a little eastward from the village, are two springs, about 40 or 50 yards asunder; the one of fresh and the other salt water, having medicinal properties; the salt spring is denominated , "Tommy Tack."

The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, was rectorial, but being appropriated to Calder Abbey, is now only a vicarage, in the patronage of the Bishop of Carlisle, and incumbency of the Rev. Joseph H. Whitelock. It was certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average annual value of 71. The tithes were commuted in 1843. The free school is endowed with 24 a year, arising from the interest of 800 left by Joseph Tordoff, in 1799, for the education of 24 poor children; Mr. John Moor is the present master. Ellen Hall2, a ruined old building near the Ellen, was anciently the seat of the Dykes' family, as also was Warnell Hall, now a farm house, ornamented with a profusion of curious old-fashioned carving about the doors and windows. A late possessor of this place was a great card player, and being once at the wrong side of fortune to a considerable amount, he in a fit of desperation, staked Warthel estate, in a single game of put3, which ran nearly even to the concluding deal, when he exclaimed

"Up now deuce, or else a tray,
Or Warthel's gone for vice and aye."

The cards turning to his wishes, he saved the estate.

Joseph Jackson, an eminent mineralogist and philosopher, was a native of Gilcrux, and died at Bordeaux in 1789, on his return from Spain, whither he had gone to open a colliery in Andalusia.


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




1. Gilcrux - pronounced Gillcrew.
2. Ellen Hall - now Ellenhall.
3. "put" - also putt; supposedly a variety of nap.

29 April 2008

Steve Bulman