Sebergham Parish

  > Is bounded on the north and north-west by the parishes of Dalston and Westward, on the east and north-east by Castle Sowerby, and on the south and west by Caldbeck. Hutchinson says "if this parish were enclosed, it might, with a particular propriety, be said to be surrounded by a ring fence, its form being nearly circular, and its circumference about 14 miles." It is intersected by the river Caldew, the picturesque banks of which are richly clothed with wood; and the small stream, called Shalk beck, is its uninterrupted limit for a long course towards the west and north-west. The soil, on the south and west side of the parish, is rather cold; but on the banks of the Caldew is generally fertile, and mostly under tillage; and "few districts can boast of sweeter situations than are to be met with in Sebergham." It comprises 5,224 acres, rated, in 1844, at 4,015 10s.; and is divided into two townships, called High Bound and Low Bound, which, in 1841, contained a population of 853 souls. The coal mine, on Warnell Fell, which for many years lay dormant, has been taken on a lease of 21 years from the Earl of Lonsdale, by Messrs. William and Joseph Mattinson, John Taylor, and John Peel, and is now wrought under the firm of J. Taylor & Co. The works were re-commenced in 1839, and two pits were opened in 1843. Large quantities of limestone were formerly quarried and burnt in the parish, but none at present. The commons were enclosed in 1765.

Sebergham1 village, or, as it is commonly called, Sebergham Church Town, occupies a pleasant situation, near the river Caldew, in High Bound township, 2 miles N. by E. of Hesket New Market, eight miles S.E. of Wigton, and 10 miles S. by W. of Carlisle. Mr. Denton says, "Sebergham is so called of the place where it stands, which is a hill, or rising ground, in the forest of Englewood; which, of the west side, was dry ground, or woodland; but the north-east side a wet spongy earth, covered with rushes, which the country people call Sieves, - and thereupon the place was called Seevy-burgh." But Hutchinson says, "a more simple etimology is obtained by the natural and obvious terms sun and sea, which, in this county at least, are (and in distant times were also in many others) equivalent to north and south;" and that "Berg is the well-known Saxon term for an hill, as ham, or hame, also is for a place of abode, or permanent residence." William Wastall, an hermit, lived here to an extreme old age, in the reigns of Henry I and II. He came thither in the former reign, and died about the end of king John's time, after having enclosed and cultivated the adjacent lands, which, at the Conquest, was a great waste or wilderness. King John granted him "the Hill," which he left to the prior of Carlisle, so that it now belongs to the dean and chapter, and is called Sebergham manor; but that part of the parish which was formerly common land, forms a manor of the same name, under the Duke of Devonshire, whose tenants pay a free rent of 6d. an acre. Here are also three small mense manors, called Warnell Hall, of which the Earl of Lonsdale is lord, Parson's Park, belonging to the Rev. sebergham1.jpg (55676 bytes)James Lynn, rector of Caldbeck, and Hart Rigg, belonging to John P. Fletcher, Esq., who also owns Sebergham Castle, a large farm house, about two miles W. from the village. The Church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, is a neat fabric, "and stands pretty near the centre of this circular parish," on the very spot, as is supposed, where William Wastall, the hermit, had his cell, and the first erection of a church here is probably coeval with his bequest already noticed. It was thoroughly repaired, and a gallery erected in 1774; and in 1785, the chancel was again repaired. The parsonage house, which adjoins the church, was rebuilt in 1773, on the site of an old one. It is tolerably commodious, but, at present stands in need of repairs. The living is now a perpetual curacy, in the patronage and appropriation of the dean and chapter of Carlisle. In 1771, the tithes were commuted for a fixed quantity of wheat, viz., 267 Winchester, equal to 89 Carlisle bushels; and, in the same year, a modus or prescription of 9 0s. 8d., was settled by an Act of Parliament, to be paid in lieu of the corn and hay tithes of the ancient land, to the curate, who has also about 80 acres of glebe or church land, 36 of which were awarded at the enclosure, and 16 belong to the dean and chapter, for which he pays a small yearly rent; the remainder was purchased with 400 obtained from Queen Anne's bounty, 200 given by John Simpson, Esq., and a parochial contribution, so that the benefice is now worth upwards of 140 per annum, and is enjoyed by the Rev. Clement Moody, M.A., M.H.O. Near to the church is a school built a few years ago.

The township of Sebergham High Bound contains 3,224 acres rated at 2,670 10s. and the principal landowners, besides the resident yeomen, are the Earl of Lonsdale, John Philip Fletcher, Esq., George Dixon, Esq., Mr. William Mattinson, and the Rev. George Dew, the latter of whom owns Sebergham Hall, a good building, a little north of bellbridge.jpg (43094 bytes)the church. Sebergham Bridge2 is a hamlet, delightfully situated, on both sides of the bridge, which here crosses the Caldew, and which was built in 1689, by Alexander Denton, Esq., Justice of the Common Pleas. Here are extensive bleach works, and two corn mills, one of which is in the parish of Castle Sowerby. Bell Bridge, about a mile lower down the river, consists of one lofty arch, erected in 1772, on the site of a very feeble one, which was swept away by a great flood in 1771.

Newlands and Warnel are two other hamlets in this township, the former one mile N.E. of Hesket New Market, and the latter 1 mile W. by N. of Sebergham. Warnel Hall, now a farm house, was long the seat of the Dentons, and formerly belonged to the Dacres, of Gilsland; but is now the property of the Earl of Lonsdale. The demesne contains about 600 acres. Near the west end of the hall there was once a strong tower, traditionally said to have been built by a Scotch nobleman, as the condition of his ransom, when taken prisoner by one of the Dentons at the battle of Flodden Field, in 1513. There was also a large beacon on the same ground. "It was from the circumstance of this beacon, or this tower, or both, that the place is supposed, and with good reason, to have got its name Warnell, having originally been Warn-Hill." At a place called the Iron Gill, near Warnel, is a chalybeate spring. Population, in 1841, 495.

Sebergham Low Bound contains the hamlets of Upper and Nether Welton3, the former eight, and the latter seven miles S. by W. of Carlisle, and about 2,000 acres of land, rated at 1,345. The soil belongs to various owners, amongst whom are the Messrs. Simpson, Connell, and Lee. Burns-Hill House is a good mansion, in a pleasant situation, about half-a-mile from the church, overlooking the banks of the Caldew. It is the property and residence of James Heysham, Esq., and was erected about nine years ago. Population, in 1841, 385.

Biography -The Rev. Josiah Relph, "the past'ral bard of Cauda's4 Vale," was born at Sebergham Church Town, in 1712, of humble but respectable parents. He was educated at Appleby school and Glasgow university, and was many years curate and schoolmaster in his native village; where he inculcated amongst the inhabitants that esteem for learning which, Hutchinson says, "travellers, even of the present day, observe in a people whose ancestors were tutored by Relph." His miscellaneous volume of poems, in the Cumberland dialect, has passed through several editions. He was an inimitable delineator of the "passions and customs operative on low life;" and his description of the innocent loves of the Damons and Cloes of the vale of Sebergham is very accurate. He died, unmarried, in the prime of life (it is said, from actual want of the necessaries of life), June 17th, 1743, at the place of his nativity; and lies buried in Sebergham church yard.

The Rev. Thomas Denton - who was born at Sebergham, in 1724, and received his school education under Mr. Relph - published a number of excellent poems, and edited the supplementary volume to the last edition of the Biographical Dictionary. He died (June, 1777) in the 53rd year of his life, after having been 23 years rector of Halstead, in Surrey.


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




1. Sebergham is pronounced something like Seb'rum.
2. Sebergham Bridge is now referred to as Sebergham.
3. The church at Welton, dedicated to St. James, was built in 1874.
4. Cauda - the river Caldew. This is still the local pronunciation.

Photos Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman