Newbiggin Parish

  > THIS parish, which is very small, being only about three miles in circumference, is surrounded on all sides by the parish of Kirkby-Thore, except on the north, where it is separated from Kirkland parish, in Cumberland, by the rivulet called Crowdundale Beck1. The village of Newbiggin2 is seven miles N.W. by N. of Appleby, and the township, in 1841, contained only 140 inhabitants.

The Church, dedicated to St. Edmund, is a small antique edifice, which was repaired in 1804. In Mr. Machell's time, the arms of the Cliffords were to be seen in the east window, and in the south window the representation of a monk with a pastoral staff, probably designed for St Edmund. The north aisle belongs to the lords of the manor, but their burial place since 1686, has been on the south side, as appears by an inscription on the wall to that effect. The living is a rectory, entered in the king's books at £4. 10s. 4d., the lowest valuation of any rectory in the county. In 1759 it was augmented with £200 given by Mrs. Dorothy Crackenthorpe, and £200 of Queen Anne's Bounty, with which sums the Potter Banks' estate at Kirkoswald was purchased, now let for £40 a year, besides which the rector has eleven acres of ancient glebe, and receives a prescriptive rent of £9 6s. 8d. from the lord of the manor, for the corn tithe of the parish. Wm. Crackenthorpe, Esq., is patron, and the Rev. John Robinson is the incumbent, and resides at the rectory house, which was erected about ten years ago by the Rev. George Dawson. The tithes were commuted in 1844, for about £62 a year.

The manor of Newbiggin was granted by Gamel, son of Whelp, Lord of Kirkby-Thore, to Robert Dapifer de Appleby, whose posterity assumed the local name, and resided here till the fifth of Edward III, (1332), when their heiress Emma de Newbiggin, was married to Robert de Crackenthorpe, whose descendants have ever since been seated here. John de Crackenthorpe was knight of the shire for Westmorland, 1382, and was allowed £12 for twenty days' attendance in parliament. He was again returned in the 9th, 13th, and 16th, of Richard II, and had £18 allowed for twenty-eight days' attendance; and again in the first of Henry IV, when he had £26 16s. allowed for sixty-three days' attendance in the House of Commons. Thus it appears that in the good old times, members of parliament were paid for their services; but what a change has taken place since, between representatives and their constituents3. John de Crackenthorpe, son of the above, was also several times member of parliament for this county; and his son Thomas represented Westmorland, in 1451. After the dissolution of the monasteries, Christopher Crackenthorpe "purchased of the crown the property in Newbiggin, which his ancestor, Lawrence de Newbiggin, had - for the health of his soul and the soul of his wife - given to the Abbey of Holme Cultram, in Cumberland; he also purchased Hale Grange, in the parish of Kirkby-Thore, late the property of the same institution, together with the house and lands which formerly belonged to the Carmelite Friars at Appleby, and the manors of Hardendale and Wasdale4, in Yorkshire; the whole of which were to be held of the King in Capite, by the 20th part of one knight's fee. The purchase money was £255 13s."

William Crackenthorpe, Esq., the present lord of this manor, resides at NEWBIGGIN HALL, an extensive edifice with towers and turrets, erected in 1533, by Christopher Crackenthorpe, on the site of the ancient manor house. It is delightfully situated amid sylvan scenery, in the deep and sequestered vale of Crowdundle, and has been greatly improved by its present proprietor. Over the hall door is the following inscription cut in stone :-

"Christopher Crackenthorpe men did me call,
Who in my tyme did builde this hall,
And framed it as you may see,
One thousand five hundred thirty and three."

Upon a rough sort of rock at Crowdundle were formally several inscriptions supposed to have been Roman. Camden saw three of them in a mutilated state, the translation of which has been given thus - "Varronius, Commander of the Twentieth Legion." "Ælius Lucanus, Commander of the Second Legion," and "Cneius Octavius Cotta, Consul." Most of the estates in this manor were enfranchised about thirty years ago.

The interest of £50 left by Mr. John Harrison, and other benefactors, is distributed yearly amongst such poor as do not receive parochial relief.

Hale5 is a small hamlet, partly in this and partly in Kirkby-Thore parish, three quarters of a mile S. of Newbiggin.


Mannix & Co.,History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland, 1851




1. Now Crowdundle Beck.
2. There are also villages called Newbiggin in Croglin, Dacre, and Waberthwaite parishes, in Cumberland.
3. The implication, being, perhaps, that members of Parliament at the time of writing were not paid. They are paid today, of course, but many might argue that they are now paid far more than they're worth.
4. Not to be confused with Wasdale in the Cumberland parish of St. Bees.
5. There is also a Hale (more usually Haile) parish in Cumberland.

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman