Gosforth Parish

  > Gosforth parish is about six miles in length and two in breadth, being bounded on the west by the Irish sea, on the north by Ponsonby, and on the south and east by Drigg, Irton, and Nether Wasdale. The soil consists chiefly of a light red sand; the land though not mountainous, is rather high, and is refreshed by several small brooks, which flow eastward, and fall with the Bleng into the Irt. Freestone is found in abundance in the parish, which is divided into four constablewicks, viz. Gosforth, Boonwood, and High and Low Bolton, and in 1841 contained 1113 souls. The parish comprises about 7000A. of the rateable value of 4454 belonging to various owners, many of whom are resident. The commons were enclosed in 1811, when allotments were made to the rector in lieu of tithes, and six acres appropriated at Boonwood for two annual fairs, which are held on the 25th of April for cattle, and on the 18th of October for cattle and horses. In 1717, the poor stock belonging to this parish was certified at 24, the interest of which was distributed annually, at Easter: it was for some time either lost or withheld, but we understand 25s. a year are now paid out of this source.

Gosforth is a large village, with several good houses, situate on the southern declivity of a gentle eminence, near the Whitehaven and Ulverston road, six miles S.S.E. of Egremont, and five miles N. of Ravenglass. Gosforth, or Gosford, anciently, gave name to its possessors, the Gosfords, of whom Robert, the last of their house, divided his lands amongst five co-heiresses, so that they are now possessed by a number of freeholders, but general Wyndham is lord paramount of Gosforth and Boonwood, and the proprietors attend his court, but pay no fines.

Gosforth Hall, now a farm house adjoining the church, was built about the reign of Elizabeth.

The Church, dedicated in honor of Saint Mary, is a very neat structure, consisting of a nave and chancel of equal height, and a bell turret, carrying three bells. A considerable portion of it was rebuilt in 1789, by which nearly all marks of antiquity were effaced: until these alterations were made the chancel extended several yards farther eastward. The church is crowded with three galleries, the one on the west end containing the organ. The benefice is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 17 4s. 7d. and certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at 35, and to the ecclesiastical commissioners at 85 per ann. It is in the patronage of lady Le Fleming Senhouse, and in the incumbency of the Rev. Francis Ford Pinder. M.A., who resides at the rectory house, which adjoins the church yard, where are the remains of an ancient cross, about fourteen feet high, and fourteen inches in diameter, fixed in a pedestal of three steps. There was formerly another column, distant about seven feet, with a horizontal stone between the two, on which was rudely cut the figure of a large and antique sword. The rector has in his possession fragments of one or two other crosses, supposed to have been found in different parts of the church yard.

Near the village is a modem mansion called Sea Scale, the seat of lady Senhouse; and within about half a mile S.E. of the village is Park Nook, the residence of Chas. Parker, Esq. but the property of Alfred Parker, Esq.

Bolton, (High) is a constablewick, one mile S.E. of Gosforth. Here is a good modern house, with extensive prospects, the residence of Mrs. Jane Robinson. A copper battle axe was found some years ago at Bolton Wood, at the depth of four feet in the moss. Charles Lutwidge was proprietor of this manor in 1777, and afterwards his brothers, Henry and Admiral Skeffington, from the latter of whom it descended to his nephew, major Skeffington Lutwidge, but the farms of both High and Low Bolton belong to different owners, and were anciently possessed by the Waybergthwaites

Bolton, (Low) is a constablewick, about one mile south, and Boonwood is another lying within one mile north of Gosforth. Sea Scales1 is a hamlet and manor within Boonwood, near the sea, from one to two miles west by south of Gosforth. Sea Scale was for many generations the seat and property of the Senhouse family. John Senhouse, Esq. resided here in 1688, but it was subsequently purchased by Mr. Blaylock, a Whitehaven merchant, whose heiress married Augustus Earl, Esq., from whom it passed to two sisters, and eventually to the Lutwidge family. The manor of Newton and Sea Scales was afterwards purchased by Sampson Senhouse, Esq., and is now the property of lady Senhouse. At Sea Scales is the site of a Druid's temple, but all the stones, except one, have been removed.*

It appears from the register, that in the year 1599, upwards of 100 deaths occured in the parish of Gosforth, which at that time contained only about 600 inhabitants. This great mortality was probably occasioned by the plague, which about that time visited several parts of Cumberland.

* Sea Skell, (Sea Scales) so called from the word Skale, "drawn from the Latin, 'scalings ad mare,' a skale or sheel for cattle, and sheepcote at the sea."


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




1. Sea Scale is today referred to as Seascale. The stone circle has been restored, and is referred to as Seascale or Grey Croft.

"The Gosforth District", by Dr. C. A. Parker, gives an excellent account of the area. Originally published in 1904, it was reprinted in 1986 (ISBN 0904131 29 7).

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman