Hesket-In-The-Forest Parish

  > Extends about 10 miles in length, and five in breadth, and is intersected by the high road from Penrith to Carlisle, the Lancaster and Carlisle railway, and the river Petteril; and contains the five townships of High and Low Hesket, Itonfield, Petteril Crooks, Plumpton-Street, and Calthwaite. It is bounded on the north and north-west by Cumberland Ward, on the south by Hutton and Lazonby, on the east by the Eden, and on the west by Middlesceugh and Braithwaite. The parish comprises 14492 acres, of the rateable value of 14474, and the soil varies from a light loam and gravel, to a strong clay, being generally fertile. The principal landowners are the earl of Lonsdale, Wm. James, Esq., Wm. Marshall, Esq. M.P., Capt. Martin, R.N., G. H. Oliphant, Esq., and Joshua Stanger, Esq. There is a quarry of freestone at Great Barrock, and one of grindstone at Ivegill. The whole parish is within the duke of Devonshire's manor of the forest of Inglewood, which was purchased in 1737, of the Duke of Portland, whose ancestor acquired it by grant from the crown. The forest or Swainmote court1 for the seigniority, is held on the feast of St. Barnabas, (June 11) in the open air, on the great north road to Carlisle. The commons were enclosed under an act passed in 1803, for enclosing the forest of Inglewood; and the tenants are chiefly copyholders under the duke of Devonshire, who has all the royalties and soccage lands, although there are some mense manors within the parish. The duke's tenants pay a yearly copyhold rent, and a single year's rent on change; but nothing on the death of the lord.

highhesket.jpg (30510 bytes)Hesket High is a long village on the great high road between Carlisle and Penrith, 9 miles S.S.E. of the former, and the same distance N. by W. of the latter. Near to it is Tarn Wadling2, a lake of 100 acres, which breeds some of the finest carp in the kingdom, and borders upon a declivity that rises 600 feet above the Eden. There were some years ago, on the crown of the lofty eminence on the north east side of the lake, the remains of a very strong and ancient building, 233 feet by 147, called Castle Hewin, but no traces of it are now left. Tradition says it was one of the strongholds of Swaine, king of Cumberland. Hesket is supposed to have formerly been a chapelry in the parish of St. Mary, Carlisle, where the inhabitants are said to have taken their dead to be interred, "till," as Dr. Todd relates, "about the year 1530, when an infectious distemper raging in the country, and the people bringing their dead as usual to be buried within the city, the mayor and citizens shut the gates upon them, and from the walls advised them to carry back the corpse, and bury the same at a place called Wallingstone, and that if they did, they and others would endeavour to prevail with the bishop to have a chapel built and consecrated there, which would be of perpetual use to them and their posterity;" accordingly, after the plague had ceased, a chapel or church was built here, and a burial ground attached to it. The church was dedicated to St. Mary, and appropriated to the prior and convent of Carlisle, whose successors, the dean and chapter are now the patrons and impropriators of the benefice, which is a perpetual curacy, in the incumbency of the Rev. William Hudson, who is also perpetual curate of Armathwaite chapelry.

In 1809, the living was worth only 43 per annum, but in 1811, it was augmented with 200 given by the Rev. Jno. Harrison, the late incumbent, when 300 more was obtained from queen Anne's bounty; 200 given by the late Henry Oliphant, Esq., of Broadfield House; and 200 by Robert Parker, Esq., of Heaton Norris, near Manchester; on which a parliamentary grant of 600 was obtained, making altogether, 1500, with which land was purchased in that part of Inglewood Forest, then under an Act of Inclosure. The incumbent, besides giving the before-mentioned 200 generously expended upwards of 950 in subdividing the land, and erecting upon it a parsonage house, with convenient offices. The living had been previously augmented in 1763, with 200 left by Mr. John Brown, of Mellguards, and 200 obtained from queen Anne's bounty; with these sums lands were purchased at Hesket and Millgate; and the living is now worth 97 per annum. The church consists of a nave and chancel, with a bell turret, carrying two bells. The before-mentioned Robt. Parker, Esq. left 100 to Hesket School, which, with 200 left in 1763, by Mr. John Brown, and 50 old Stock, makes the master's yearly stipend 18 15s., exclusive of quarter pence paid by the scholars; and the 1ate H. Oliphant, left the interest of 105 a few years since, for the use of the school.

Hesket Nether, 7 miles S.S.E. of Carlisle, is a village forming part of the township commonly called Upper and Nether Hesket, but a few of the houses are in the township of Petteril Crooks. The township of Upper and Nether Hesket contains 883 souls, and 3149 acres, of the rateable value of 3146 10s.

Aiket Gate3, or High-cot-gate, is a hamlet in this township, half a mile east of Low Hesket.

Armathwaite is a neat and pleasant village, two miles E. by N. of High Hesket, situated on the west bank of the Eden, in Hesket township, except a few houses which are on the opposite side of the river, in Ainstable parish; and here is situated Armathwaite Villa4, the pleasant seat of Mrs. De Whelpdale. Armathwaite Castle is seated upon a rock washed by the river Eden, and has a modern elegant front of hewn stone, with a new wing consisting of offices. It is erected upon the site of an ancient fortress, and occupies a delightful situation amidst the beautifully diversified scenery, and was for many years the chief seat of the ancient family of the Skeltons, one of whom, John Skelton, was poet laureat to Henry VIII and was "renowned amongst men for his poetry and philosophy. Taking holy orders, he was made rector of Diss, in Norfolk, where he was esteemed far fitter for the stage than the pulpit." For his satires on cardinal Wolsey, he was obliged to fly for sanctuary to the "Abbaye of Westminster." He held this manor and estate of the king in capite, paying 36s. free rent, as his ancestors had done since the reign of Edward II. In 1712, Richd. Skelton sold the estate to Willm. Sanderson, Esq., from whom it passed to Wm. Henry Milbourne, Esq., and afterwards to Rbt. Sanderson Milbourne, and after his death, in 1822, was held under trustees until 1846, when it was purchased by the earl of Lonsdale, who is now lord of the manor. Armathwaite is a mixed manor, consisting of freeholders and customary tenants, at Armathwaite, Nether Southwaite, Coathill, Cumwhitton, and Castle Carrock, the tenants of which do their suit and service at the court held in the castle, but many of the estates are enfranchised. The Chapel, which is situated on an eminence near the castle, is a very rude edifice. It was rebuilt by Richard Skelton, previous to the year 1688, when it was in a state of great decay, and was used as a shed for cattle. Mr. Skelton also endowed it with 100 which now bears interest; besides, it has lands in Lazonby and Ainstable parishes, purchased with 100 left by Mr. John Brown, in 1763; 100 given by the countess dowager Gower; and 200 obtained from queen Anne's bounty. The living is a donative5, and is now in the incumbency of the Rev. William Hudson, who performs divine service here every Sunday afternoon.

Nunclose is a hamlet and estate in Upper and Nether Hesket township, nine miles S.E. by S. of Carlisle. This is now deemed a manor of itself, and is stiled the manor of Armathwaite, or Nunclose, and consists of one freeholder who pays yearly one shilling free rent, and about seventeen customary tenants, who pay an annual customary rent of 4 10s. 0d., and 9s. yearly, in lieu of boon days. It was granted by William Rufus to the prioress and nuns of Ermithwaite, and still enjoys the exemption from toll throughout England. After the dissolution of the religious houses, it was granted by Edward VI to William Greyme, alias Carlyle, from whose descendants it passed through several purchasers to the Milbournes.

Old Town, is another hamlet in Upper and Nether Hesket, a quarter of a mile south of High Hesket.

Calthwaite6 village and township contains 206 souls, and 1754 acres of land, of the rateable value of 1458. It is situated seven miles N. by W. of Penrith, on the west side of the Petteril, near a good bridge of one arch, which was built by subscription, in 1793. Calthwaite Hall occupies a beautiful situation, contiguous to the village, commanding an extensive view of the fells and surrounding country, and was built about ten years ago by the late Thomas Dixon, Esq. It is in the Elizabethan style of architecture, with a Gothic porch in the south front, and a corresponding Gothic centre in the east front. The entrance hall is exceedingly pretty, and the stair case, pillars, &c. are very elegantly carved. The whole building is of cut stone, and the cost of its erection was 7000. It is now the seat and property of W.H. Ambler, Esq., who, about three years ago, purchased it, together with the estate, which consists of 736 acres.

Itonfield township comprises the hamlets of Broadfield and Sceugh-head7, with a few dispersed dwellings, lying about three miles W. of High Hesket, and from five to seven miles N.E. of Hesket Newmarket, and contains 222 souls, and 2595 acres, of the rateable value of 2313. Here is situated Broadfield House, the seat of G.H. Oliphant, Esq.

Petteril Crooks township lies on both sides of the river from which it derives its name, and on the west side of High and Low Hesket. It contains 517 souls, and 4482 acres, of the rateable value of 4829 with the hamlets of Birthwaite, Mellguards, Petteril Bank, and Sewell houses; besides the handsome villa, called Barrock Lodge, a pleasant modern mansion, built by the late John Graham, Esq., and now the seat of William James, Esq. It is situated on the verge of a high bank in a small park, overlooking a fertile vale, enclosed with sylvan eminences, six miles S.S.E. of Carlisle.

Plumpton Street township, contains about twenty detached farm houses, and 190 inhabitants, and is 3 miles S. of High Hesket, adjoining Plumpton Wall, in Lazonby parish.


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




1. For more on the Swainmote Court, see the Inglewood Forest entry.
2. Tarn Wadling, which features in the legends of King Arthur, was subsequently drained.
3. Aiket Gate is now Aiketgate.
4. For more on Armathwaite Villa, see the Ainstable entry.
5. "donative" - a benefice solely in the gift of the patron.
6. Calthwaite Church wasn't built until 1913.
7. Sceugh-head is now Sceugh Head.

Photo Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman