St. Bees Parish
|This parish, the largest in the county, is of a very
irregular figure, and extends ten miles along the coast, from Braystones, near
Beckermet, to Whitehaven, whence it stretches inland in a south-easterly direction to
Eskdale, a distance of about 18 miles. Its western portion lies between the river Ehen and
the sea; and its eastern limb, which consists chiefly of a long range of mountains and
glens, contains the lakes of Ennerdale, Wast Water1,
and Burn Tarn; and its two arms are intersected by the parishes of Arlecdon,
Cleator, Egremont, Hale2, and the two Beckermets. The land in
nearly every part of the parish is generally high, and bare of wood, but the soil towards
the sea is fertile, and abounds with coal, freestone, and limestone. Iron
ore is got at Eskdale, and lead ore is raised at Kenneyside. The parish
includes five chapelries, besides the large and opulent town of Whitehaven,
viz., Ennerdale, Eskdale, Hensingham, Nether-Wasdale, and Wasdale
Head; and is divided into the following thirteen townships, viz., St. Bees, Ennerdale,
Eskdale, Hensingham, Kenneyside3, Lowside
Quarter, Nether-Wasdale, Preston Quarter*, Rottington, Sandwith,
Wasdale Head, Weddicar, and the town of Whitehaven. Its population,
in 1831, was returned at 20,013, and in 1841, at 19,687 souls.
St. Bees is large village, situate in a deep valley, 4 miles S. of Whitehaven, and near the rocky promontory called St Bees' Head. It consists principally of one long street, and two modern terraces, and is "a place distinguished from very early times for its religious and scholastic foundations," having been the seat of a monastery, from a very remote period, and is at present celebrated for its College and Grammar School. Its township contains 1702 acres of land, rated at £2088 17s. 7½d. and the principal proprietors of the soil are the earl of Lonsdale, major Spedding, Mrs. Harrison, Mr. William Fox, sen., capt Willock, and Mr. William Mossop. Its population, in 1841, was 557. A bridge over the rivulet Pow, or Poe4, in the village, bears the date 1585, and the arms of archbishop Grindal. This small rivulet divided the church, college, and school of St. Bees, from the village, the former three being situate in Preston Quarter. The Whitehaven Junction Railway passes at the end of the village, and here is a large and commodious hotel, erected in 1847, for the accommodation of visitors and students. The parish takes its name from Bega, an Irish saint, who founded a small nunnery here about the year 650, where a church was subsequently built, and dedicated in her honour. In ancient evidences, the priory and parish are variously called Kirkby-betok, Kirkby-Begock, and Begoth, the latter is derived from Beg-og, which, in the Irish language, signifies little young. The accounts given of the first foundation of the nunnery of St. Bees are very contradictory, the common version being the traditionary account in Mr. Sandford's MS., namely, that the extent of the territories were originally designated by a preternatural fall of snow, on the eve of St. John's day. From these MS. it would appear that a ship, containing a lady abbess and her sisters, being "driven in by stormy weather at Whitehaven," the abbess applied for relief to the lady of Egremont, who, taking compassion on their destitution, obtained of her lord a dwelling place for them, "at the now St. Bees;" where they sewed and spinned, and wrought carpets and other work, and lived very godly lives, as got them much love." It goes on to say that lady Egremont, at the request of the abbess, spoke to her lord to give them some land "to lay up treasure in heaven," and that "he laughed and said he would give them as much as snow fell upon the next morning, being Midsummer day; and on the morrow as he looked out of his castle window, all was white with snow for three miles together. And thereupon builded this St. Bees Abbie, and gave all those lands was snowen unto it, and the town (?)5 and haven of Whitehaven, &c." It is certain that the name of Sancta Bega, is inseparably connected with the snow miracle, but seems to have taken place in the time of Ranulph Meschines, many hundred years after the death of the mild saint.
"Old legends say, to prove her
This religious house, which is supposed to have been destroyed by the Danes, was restored in the reign of Henry I by William de Meschines, who made it a cell of a prior and six Benedictine monks to the mitred Abbey of St. Mary, York. It was endowed by him and his son Ranulph, and also by William de Fortibus, earl of Albemarle, (circa A.D. 1192). Ranulph confirmed his father's grants to the priory of the church of St. Bees, and seven carucates of land there; the chapel (capella) of Egremont, the tithes of his demesne in Copeland, and of his men there; the tithe of his fisheries, hogs, venison, pannage, and vaccaries, throughout Copeland; the manor of Ennerdale and Ketel's grant of the church of Preston, &c., all the woods from St. Bees to Whitehaven, with two bovates of land and one villein, in Rottington; also Swarthtoft, and the churches of "Whittington and Botele." The priory of St. Bees had also tithes and lands in the Isle of Man, of which island the priors were barons. At the dissolution, its annual value, according to Dugdale, was £143 17s. 2d., and by Speed's valuation, £149 19s. 6d., so that it appears there were only two religious houses in the county more amply endowed; and though the revenues would equal about £3000 a year of the present value of money, " the parish was sacrilegiously robbed, not only of the endowments which had been appropriated for works of charity and education, but even of a suitable maintenance for its ministers, and to such an extent, that in 1705, the church was certified of only the annual value of £12." Edward VI, in 1553, the seventh year of his reign, granted to Sir Thomas Chaloner, Knight, the manor, rectory, and cell of St. Bees, with all its rights and possessions not granted away by the crown before, to be holden by him and his heirs, "in fee farm rent for ever of the king as of his manor of Sheriff Hutton, in Yorkshire, in free and common soccage by fealty only, and not in capite," paying to the crown yearly the fee farm rent of £143 16s. 2½d. Philip and Mary, in the year 1557, granted the said yearly rent to Cuthbert Scott, bishop of Chester, and his successors, subject to an annual payment to the crown of £43 8s. 4d. The Wybergs were afterwards possessed of the estates, but having been sufferers for their loyalty in the civil wars of Charles I, they mortgaged St. Bees to the Lowther family, and on a suit instituted by Sir John Lowther, of Whitehaven, the equity of redemption was foreclosed, and the estate decreed to him and his heirs in the year 1663, in which family it has since continued, and now forms part of the possessions of the earl of Lonsdale, who is lord of the manor, and patron and impropriator of the benefice.
In 1622, Bishop Bridgeman ordered the inhabitants of the five chapelries of Eskdale, Ennerdale, Wasdale, Wasdale Head, and Loweswater, to contribute to the repairs of the mother church; and, in 1723, the right of the incumbent of St. Bees, to certain fees on the baptisms, churchings, &c., performed in the dependant chapelries, was confirmed by the bishop. The conventual church, as usual, forms a cross, and consists of a nave with aisles, a choir, and transepts, with a massive tower, of Saxon6 architecture, at the intersection, having an embattled parapet, and carrying three modern bells. The rest of the edifice is in the ornamented Gothic style, but the windows on the north and south sides are barbarous insertions; and from the corbals yet remaining, there appears to have been a spire. The nave is now used as the parish church, and the south cross aisle has been used as a place of sepulchre. There was formerly a recumbent wooden figure, in mail armour, on the south side of the nave, supposed to have been the effigy of the last lord Lucy, of Egremont, who died in 1368; and in the church yard are two stone figures, much mutilated. Part of the ancient cross still remains on the north side of the church. The living is a perpetual curacy, certified, in 1835, at £103 per annum. The Rev. Richard Parkinson, B.D., canon of Manchester, rural dean of the deanery of Whitehaven, and principal of St. Bees college, is the incumbent.
The following remarks respecting the antiquity of St. Bees have been communicated to us by an ingenious correspondent :-
"It is somewhat remarkable that a place of such seeming antiquity as the village of Saint Bees, should have received so little notice from early historians, nothing now further known than that it was repeatedly sacked and destroyed by the Danish invaders, and "from its ancient ruins to have been fortified at all the convenient landing places, by the Romans, against the incursions of the Irish and Scotch." From this it may be presumed that it was a place of some importance previous to the visit of the Irish saint (Bega) in 650. Whether the sea ever passed over a portion of the ground on which the village now stands, and flowed towards the meadows, as has been generally believed, is a question difficult to determine; but from the fact of foundations being discovered when removing the old buildings where the rectory now stands, running from the church in a direction towards Sea Cote, and from the broken and uneven appearance of the land, 'tis probable that much of the ground on that side of the river was covered with buildings. The earliest documents connected with this place call it Kirby Beagogh, (vul Beacock) the market town of St. Bega; and St. Bee, or St. Bees, the saint's house or houses, names given to it after the Irish saint resided there; but by what name it was called when "pillaged by the Danes" or "fortified, (according to Cook) at all the convenient landing places by the Romans," or when the Bell Teing7 was lighted on Bell Hill, towards which the road from this place and to Whitehaven is almost as perfect as when the Belfires blazed, or the Druidical rites were performed in the temple, supposed to have been where the castle at Whitehaven now stands, there is no record to show. According to tradition there was a city called Barnscar, in this part of the county, attributed to the Danes, which Mr. Hutchinson places in the vale of Birkby, near Ravenglass, and describes as 300 yards long by 100 broad, having had streets intersecting each other, and walling in a circumference of nearly three miles, many of the ruins being yet perceptable. So little is seen or known of this place by the oldest resident, 'tis more probable to suppose it to have been at St. Bees, as the name Barnscar, or Baruch-Scar, (the Sand Beech by the rocks) would seem to refer to this as the much likelier locality; and from its favourable site to have been peopled by the inhabitants of Beckermet and Drigg, (Derigh, the place of oaks) when destroyed by the Danish invaders, as stated by Hutchinson. It appears, however, to have been a place of some note for the making of salt at the Conquest, as the lordship of Clifton, in Westmorland, was granted on the following tenure - that a man and two horses should be sent annually to St. Bees for salt, and so late as the 35th of Henry VIII one Henry Palmer came here for two horse loads.
The present church of St. Bees is supposed to have been built by William de Meschines, a relative of the Conqueror, in 1120. Little of its former history is known, excepting a few of its Priors, as under :- Robert, the first Prior; Waleran, 1197; Ricardus; Nicholas, 1257, 1279, and 1282; Benedict, 1282; William, 1288; John; Roger Kirkby; Roger Armyn, 1435; Edmund Smyth, 1496; Thomas Barwise, 1498; and Robert Alanby, 1523.
The boundaries of the parish are extensive, but the tradition that the limits were marked by the snow, said to have fallen through the prayers of Bega, on Midsummer day, and granted by lord Lucy to the Virgin Saint is questionable, as the castle of Egremont does not appear to have been built before the year 1070; and the first mention we have of the Lucy's as occupiers of Egremont, is in a commission of Edward II to Sir Anthony Lucy, about the year 1323 to proceed to Cardoil (Carlisle) and arraign Sir Andrew de Harcla, for his treachery at the battle of Beighland, in that monarch's reign, and probably 600 years after the death of St. Bega.
The College - This institution for the instruction of candidates for Holy Orders, within the province of York, (and which is now under the patronage of most of the bishops) was established in 1817, by the Right Rev. G.H. Law, D.D., then bishop of Chester, and the earl of Lonsdale; the choir of the priory church, which had been roofless for upwards of two centuries, having been fitted up for the purpose, at the expense of the earl. Bishop Law gave £200 and procured from queen Anne's bounty the sum of £300 to build a house for the principal. On the death of Dr. Ainger, (the first principal) in 1840, the Rev. R. P. Buddicom20, M.A. was appointed, and on his death, in 1846, he was succeeded by the present principal, the Rev. R. Parkinson, B.D. The other officers of the college are the Rev. F. J. Gruggan, M.A., Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, Tutor; the Rev. J.E. Middleton, M.A. and the Rev. C. W. Woodhouse, M.A. theological lecturers. The present number of students is nearly 100; and previous to admission, they are expected to be well versed in the classics, as the course of study does not exceed two years. "In this period the standard divinity works are diligently studied, and such principles inculcated as are likely to form faithful ministers of the gospel, who, as far as their spheres for exertion will permit, may be able to preserve the Church in its original purity, free from those errors which indistinct notions are apt to engender." The students lodge or board in the village, at a moderate expense. One of the lecture rooms is used as a library, and contains an excellent portrait of the late Dr. Ainger. The following tribute to the monks of St. Bees is from the pen of Wordsworth :--
"Who with the poughshare clove the
"But all availed not; by a mandate
The Free Grammar School was founded in 1583, by Edmund Grindal, archbishop of Canterbury, a native of Hensingham, under a charter from queen Elizabeth. It was provided that there should be seven governors, including the provost of Queen's College, Oxford, and the rector of Egremont, and that in the case of death the vacancy should be filled up by the survivors. After the founder's decease, the nomination of the master was to be vested in the provost of Queen's College, Oxford, "if a person of learning" and a native of Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, or Lancashire; and if he should neglect for two months, the master of Pembroke Hall, after notice from the governors, is then to nominate. The benevolent founder's donation was £50 a year, viz., £20 to the master, five marks to the usher, £20 to the master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, five marks to an exhibitioner to Pembroke Hall and Queen's College, alternately, and the residue, with all penalties and fines to be appropriated in repairs and other necessary charges. The head master is to be a native of Cumberland, Westmorland, or Yorkshire, and the scholars are educated gratuitously, except 2s. 6d. entrance. The governors, with the consent of the bishop of Chester, have power to make statutes for the regulation of the school. In 1604, James I, in augmentation of the endowment, granted to this seminary sixteen messuages or tenements in Sandwith, being parcel of the possessions of the priory, with pastures for 300 sheep on Sandwith marsh; 48 messuages in the manor of Saint Bees, with divers quit rents, &c. and 16s. 8d. called Walk mill silver, payable yearly by the tenants of the manor of Hensingham; with four messuages at Hensingham and Wray. All of which said premises were parcel of the possessions of Thomas Chaloner, deceased, of the yearly value of £28 8s. 0¼d." Sir John Lowther, who died in 1705, gave a valuable library to this school, and it has since been augmented by other donors. The site of the school and master's house was given by Thomas Chaloner, Esq.; and the late earl of Lonsdale is said to have expended a considerable sum in repairing and enlarging the school, which forms the north wing of the noble and splendid building erected within the last few years. It is now very comfortable, and will conveniently accommodate between thirty and forty boarders. There are two exhibitions of £25 per annum each, at Queen's College, Oxford, founded by Dr. Thomas, bishop of Rochester, for the sons of clergymen of the diocese, and educated at the grammar schools of St. Bees and Carlisle. A Saint Bees scholar has also the privilege of becoming a candidate for one of the five valuable exhibitions founded by lady Elizabeth Hastings, in 1739. There are also four exhibitions8 of £50 each, now about to be purchased at Queen's College. In 1815, the revenue of the school was £112 10s. exclusive of a house and about five acres of land, arising chiefly from coal pits, and partly from lords rents, the manor of St. Bees being the property of the school. Its accounts in 1846 were as follows :- Amount of rents, dividends from funds, and returns from property tax, £1578 2s. 4½d. Balance in receiver's hands, £315 7s. 9d. Amount of Stock in the 3 per cent consols, to the account of the school, £22,273 0s. 11d. and amount to the sinking fund account £1071 0s. 6d. There were during the same year £700 received from thirty-five foundation scholars, and £159 12s. 8d. as balance due from account of two last years; the expenses for the same time were £720 8s. 6d. leaving a balance in hand of £139 4s. 2d. The number of boys in the school at Christmas, 1846, was 146, of which 35 were on the foundation. According to the terms of admission, on the foundation, the scholars must be natives of Cumberland or Westmorland, and be above nine and under fourteen years of age; and the charge for board, lodging, washing, &c. is £20 per annum, and 2s. 6d. entrance. Mr. Richard Armistead, solicitor, of Whitehaven, is school clerk and receiver; the Revd. Miles Atkinson is head master; Mr. E. H. Knowles, second master; Mr. C. H. Lowry and Mr. R. Campbell, assistants; and Mr. C. Watson, usher.
Edwin Sandys, or Sands, archbishop of York, was a native of St. Bees, and probably educated at this school. He was author of Europ Syeculum,a and founder of Hawkshead School. He died in 1588.
Ennerdale, a township, forms a joint chapelry with Kenneyside, and has a small village on the banks of the river Ehen9, one mile west of the lake which bears the name of the vale, and eight miles S.S.E. of Whitehaven. Mr. John Denton says the Irish named it Lough Eaneth, (lacus volucrum10) from the fowls that bred there in the islands, and that the name for the dale was Eaner, or, Ar-ean, from which the Saxons called it Enerdale. The Chapel, which is a small edifice, is distant about six miles from the parish church off St. Bees. The curacy was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at £4 13s. 4d. which was paid by the impropriator, and was returned in 1835 as of the average value of £84. In 1846, the tithes were commuted for a yearly rent charge of £143, viz., £68 for Ennerdale, and £75 for Kenneyside. Henry Curwen, Esq. is patron, but no incumbent at present.
The chapelry, including Kenneyside, contains 5155 rateable acres of land, of the rateable value of £1999 besides many hundred acres of common. Joseph Dickinson, Esq. and Mrs. Hannah Dixon, are the largest landowners, and the former built a comfortable inn a few years since at the foot of the lake, where boats are kept for the accommodation of anglers, tourists, &c. There are also two good inns in the village, where a sheep fair is held on the second Tuesday in September. A portion of the manor of Ennerdale was given by Ranulph de Meschines to the priory of St. Bees, and the remainder passed successively to the Harringtons, Bonvilles, and Greys, but was forfeited to the crown in 1554, by the father of lady Jane Grey, and was granted by Elizabeth to the tenants in 1568. It is now vested in the earl of Lonsdale, having been purchased by the late earl in 1821. Population of Ennerdale in 1841, 183.
How Hall, or Castle How, now a farm house near the foot of the lake, was anciently the seat of the Patricksons, who sold it in the seventeenth century to John Tiffin, Esqr. from whom it passed to Joseph Senhouse, Esqr. who rebuilt the house, and saved many of the antiquities, amongst which are the remains of a catholic chapel, as appears by an ancient cross, still preserved. In 1816, the estate, which includes the lake, was the property of Henry Birley, Esq. of Whitehaven. It now belongs to Joseph Dickinson, Esq. of Red How. From Red Pike, one of the mountains near the lake, a view may be obtained of Crummock, Buttermere, and Derwent; of the Northumberland and Scottish hills, and the Isle of Man. The Park, now called the Side, was formerly well stocked with deer. The interest of £24 is distributed yearly to the poor of the chapelry, but the name of the donor is unknown.
Eskdale is a chapelry and joint township with Wasdale Head, distant six miles N.E. by E. of Ravenglass, and contains the hamlets of Boot, Gatehouse Green11, and Miterdale, with a few scattered dwellings in the romantic vale of the Esk. Scawfell Pike12, the loftiest eminence in England, is in this township, and until the last century several red deer bounded along its rocky sides; and also that profusion of loose stones called Screes, on the south side of Wastwater. The Chapel, which stands near Boot, fourteen miles from the mother church, is dedicated to Saint Catherine Virgin and Martyr, and includes within its jurisdiction the township of Birker and Austhwaite, on the south side of the Esk, in Millom parish. It was certified in 1717 at £9 per annum, £5 of which arose from the interest of £100 given by Edward Stanley, Esq. temp.13 William III whose descendant Edward Stanley, Esq. of Ponsonby Hall, is now the impropriator and patron of the curacy, which has been enjoyed by the Rev. Robert Powley, since 1814. The benefice, which has some glebe belonging to it, has been augmented with queen Anne's bounty. There are several pieces of stained glass in the chapel windows, amongst which is conspicuous the figure of the patron saint and her wheel; and a well contiguous still retains the name of St. Catherine's well. In 1792, there was a poor stock in this chapelry amounting to £97 10s., of which £40 had been given by Edward Stanley, Esq., who gave £100 to the chapel. "The interest of £137 has been left by several donors, for the education of the poor of Eskdale; as also has the interest of £400 which is divided among the indigent of the chapelry, on the Sunday after Easter." General Wyndham is lord of the manors of Eskdale and Miterdale, as parcel of his barony of Egremont, but the farms have been enfranchised, and are now discharged of fines, heriots, and customary service, except the payments of door-toll and greenhew, doing suit and service at the leet and court baron, &c. at Ravenglass. A fair is held at Boot, on the 2nd of September; and there is a provident institution called the "Independent Mechanics," at the King of Prussia Inn. An iron mine is worked here by Mr. Lindow, but it is not very productive at present. "On a stone near Buck Crag, are the impressions of the foot of a man, a boy, and a dog, without any marks of tooling, or instrument; and much more wonderful than the heifer's foot, in Borrowdale, shewn by guides on the lake, to the amazed traveller. Doe Crag and Earn Crag are two remarkable precipices, whose fronts are polished as marble, the one 160 perpendicular yards in height, the other 120 yards." Burnmoor Tarn is in this township; and Devoke Water, and the falls of Birker Force and Stanley Gill, are in the township of Birker and Austhwaite. Population, in 1841, 340.
Wasdale Head is situate at the head of Wast Water Lake, 12 miles N.E. of Ravenglass, and 14 miles E. by S. of Egremont. It is a chapelry, containing only seven scattered houses; and its small chapel having only eight pews, and no burial ground, the dead are interred at Nether Wasdale. The curacy, which received an augmentation by lot, in 1719, is in the patronage of the incumbent of St. Bees, and the living is now enjoyed by the Rev. Joseph Kitchen. It was certified, in 1835, as of the average value of £49. The chapelry forms part of the manor of Eskdale, of which general Wyndham is lord. Hutchinson says that "one of the landowners, whose name is Fletcher, derives the family possessions here from a course of not less than 700 years." The chapelries of Wasdale Head, Nether Wasdale, and Eskdale, adjoin each other, and form a mountainous region of about 40 square miles. Green says the vale of Wasdale Head is fruitful, "and if divested of its stone walls, and more profusely planted, would truly be a pastoral paradise; all its inhabitants are shepherds, and live at the feet of the most stupendous mountains :- these are Yewbarrow and Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Lingmell." It is supposed to have been formerly of more importance, having contained in 1792, 47 inhabitants. Its population, in 1841, was only 35.
Hensingham is a large village and chapelry, about one mile S.E. of Whitehaven, containing many good houses and detached mansions, and being mostly on elevated ground, commands a good view of the town and harbour of Whitehaven. In the village is a thread manufactory, and at Overend some limestone is quarried. The chapelry contains about 1020 souls, and 2020 rateable acres, of the rateable value of £4264, and the principal land owners are the earl of Lonsdale, F. L. B. Dykes, Esq., John Steward, Esq., and major Spedding. Its population in 1841 was 1019. A moiety of the manor was held by the Branthwaite family, in the reign of Edward I, from whom it descended to the Whitriggs, and passed from them by marriage to the Skeltons, who sold it before the year 1688, to Sir Wilfred Lawson, and about the year 1748 was purchased by Anthony Benn, Esqr. It is now the property of the earl of Lonsdale. The Chapel, dedicated to St. John, is a modern edifice, endowed with an estate valued at about £100 a year by the earl of Lonsdale, who is patron of the curacy, which is now possessed by the Rev. Robert Whitehead, for whom the Rev. F. J. Allnatt officiates. It was returned to the commissioners in 1835 as of the annual value of £126, with a glebe house fit for residence. The chapel contains about 600 sittings, of which 182 are free.
Here is a Parochial School, supported by voluntary subscription, and also an Infant, and Sunday School. The following mansions are within the township, viz., Ingwell, the seat of Fretchville Lawson Ballantyne Dykes, Esq.; Hensingham Hall, the residence of Henry Jefferson, Esq.; Linethwaite, the residence of George Harrison, Esq.; Summergrove, the seat of major Spedding; Chapel House, the seat of John Steward, Esqr.; and Richmond Hill, the residence of Mrs. Millward.
Edmund Grindal, archbishop, was born here in 1519; he was translated to the see of York from London, and afterwards to Canterbury, where he was for some time suspended by Elizabeth. He founded St. Bees grammar school, died July 6th, 1583, and was buried in the parish church of Croydon.
Kenneyside is a township in Ennerdale chapelry, 5½ miles E.S.E. of Whitehaven. Here is a lead mine, leased by the London Lead Company, of general Wyndham, who is lord of the manor. The soil belongs mostly to the resident yeomen, of whom Messrs. Wm. Towerson, and Thos. Dixon, are the largest. (For acres, rateable value, and tithe-rent charges, see Ennerdale.)
Lowside Quarter extends from Egremont to Braystones, and contains the hamlets of Middletown, 1½ mile S.W., Nethertown, 2 miles S.W., and Coulderton, 2¼ miles S.W. by W., with part of the hamlet of Lowmill, 1 mile S., of Egremont. It is bounded on the W. by the Irish Sea, and on the E. by the river Ehen, except a small portion of it, which is on the east of that river. The ruins of Egremont Castle are also in this township, which is now intersected by the Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway. The township contains about 1600 acres, of the rateable value of £1880 and the largest landowners are Thos. Brocklebank, Esq. and Mr. Thos. Nelson, but there are several other smaller proprietors, many of whom are residents. At Low mill is an extensive canvas and thread manufactury, belonging to Wilsons, Foster, & Company. Population in 1841, 299.
Nether Wasdale is a chapelry, at the foot of Wast Water, about 9 miles N.E. by N. of Egremont. Wast Water14 is a lake connected with the river Esk, situated six miles east of Ravenglass, and eight miles west of the sea. This lake is about three miles long, half a mile broad, and forty-five fathoms deep, its bottom being about fifteen fathoms below the level of the sea. It has never been known to freeze, which circumstance is probably owing to its great depth in proportion to its extent of surface. "The mountains environing Wast Water are lofty and majestic. Looking up the vale, Yewbarrow forms a fine apex; Kirkfell pushes forward its bold front on the left; at the head of the vale the pyramidical Gable appears conspicuous. Lingmell comes finely in view on the right, over which Scawfell and the Pikes reign pre-eminent. The Haycock may be seen through the lateral vale of Bowderdale, and the Pillar crowns the head of the branch called Mosedale15; Middlefell16, running along the margin of the lake on the spectator's side, and the Screes on the opposite complete the panorama. In short, Wast Water affords many peculiarities well worth visiting once, but not sufficiently to yield that increased degree of pleasure in a second and third inspection, that would be experienced on Derwent, Ullswater, or Windermere17. This lake abounds in trout and contains a few char. Boats are kept by the neighbouring gentlemen for the diversion of angling. There are two good public houses at Nether-Wasdale, one mile and a half from the foot of the lake.
The lake cannot be traversed on its south-east side owing to the great profusion of loose stones, (called the Screes) which here extend from near the summit of the mountain, quite into the water, and rest upon so steep a declivity, that the slightest disturbance in any part communicates a sliding or rolling motion, which frequently extends to a considerable distance, and continues many minutes before quiet can be restored. There are only two tarns18 connected with this water, and they are in such a lofty and sequestered situation, near the foot of the Haycock mountain, that tourists do not often visit them.
The chapel, which is ten miles distant from the mother church, was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at £5, and, in 1835, as of the average value of £66. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the incumbent of St. Bees, and in the impropriation of Edward Stanley, Esq., M.P., the tithes having been purchased by his ancestor of the same name, from Sir Thomas Chaloner, to whom they had been granted on the dissolution of the Priory of St. Bees. The chapel was enlarged, and a new vestry added to it, about 19 years ago, at the sole expense of S. Rawson, Esq. who also rebuilt the school about seven years since. The Rev. John Douglas is the present incumbent, and has a neat parsonage house here, erected by himself about thirteen years ago. General Wyndham is lord of the manor, which is divided into small estates, mostly occupied by their owners. A sheep fair is held here on the first Monday in September. The sum of £2 10s. the interest of an old charity, is given to the poor at Easter.
Wasdale Hall, the beautiful seat of Stansfield Rawson, Esq. occupies a picturesque situation amid this barren district; and here is also the rural retreat of Charles Rawson, Esq. called Gale Syke. Isaac Nicholson, who was ten years president of Lady Huntingdon's College, at Chester, was born here, in 1761, and died in 1807.
Preston Quarter extends northward from St. Bees to Whitehaven, to which town it forms a populous suburb. There are several extensive collieries in this township, belonging to the earl of Lonsdale; and its population, in 1841, was 4528.
Rottington is a small township near the sea, 3½ miles S. by W. of Whitehaven, containing only 52 inhabitants. It anciently belonged to a family of its own name, whose heiress carried it in marriage to the Sands, or Sandys, of whom it was purchased by the Curwens, for £700. It was afterwards devised to Henry Pelham, Esq. who sold it , in 1762, to Sir James Lowther, so that it is now nearly all the property of the earl of Lonsdale.
Sandwith township has an irregularly built village on the high road from St. Bees, 2½ miles S. of Whitehaven. It contains about 400 souls, and 1349 acres, of the rateable value of £2406, and the largest proprietors of the soil are the earl of Lonsdale, the Rev. H. Lowther, Mrs. Hartley, of Moresby house, and Mr. Anthony Thompson. There is a school here, built in 1804, by subscription, and a grant from the National Society, where divine service is performed every Sunday evening, by a clergyman from St. Bees. The township lies north of Rottington, and extends to that bold promontory, called St. Bees' Head, where a light house is placed to guide mariners.
Weddicar township contains only eight scattered houses, and a mill belonging to Messrs. Randleson and Forster, of Whitehaven, for grinding dye wood, colours, cement, &c., three miles E. by S. of Whitehaven. Its number of rateable acres is about 1090, and its rateable value £634. The earl of Lonsdale and the baroness de Stenberg own the whole of the township, the soil of which is generally loamy, but very cold, and poor in some parts.19
There have been no fewer than six of this name canonized: the festival of Saint Catherine Virgin and Martyr occurs on 25th November.
Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847
1. Wast Water is now Wastwater.
2. Hale is usually designated Haile.
3. Kenneyside is now Kinniside.
4. The "rivulet Pow, or Poe", is now known as Pow Beck.
5. In the relation of the snowy legend, the "(?)" is in the original text.
6. The parish church is Norman, not Saxon, (according to Pevsner), and was restored about 10 years after the above description was written.
7. Bell Teing - this will be Beltane, the Celtic festival, when fires were traditionally lit on hills.
8. An "exhibition" means a grant to support a scholar.
9. The Ehen is pronounced like the personal name "Ian".
10. Lacus volucrum - lake of the birds.
11. I suspect that Gatehouse Green is what is now known as Eskdale Green.
12. Scawfell Pike is now usually given as Scafell Pike.
13. temp - of the time of.
14. The description of Wastwater is interpolated from another section of the book. The original authors seem to have lost their ability to use a compass here; the lake is N.E. of Ravenglass, and east of the sea. The lake is the deepest in the Lake District.
15. Mosedale - one of several in the Lake District.
16. Middlefell is now Middle Fell.
17. Wasdale is one of my favourite places in the Lake District, so I can't agree with the original authors. If you enjoy landscape where the works of man act as a minor counterpoint to nature, rather than being dominant, head for Wasdale. The Screes can be crossed by foot, but it is only for the fitter amongst us. If you can still raise your knee to chin level, give it a go!
18. "two tarns" - these are actually more than two which feed Wastwater, but the ones meant are probably Greendale Tarn and Scoat Tarn.
19. The original entry for St. Bees carries straight on into Whitehaven, which belongs in St. Bees parish, but I've given Whitehaven a separate entry.
20. I've been sent a scan from a book entitled "Pen and Pencil Sketches, A Retrospect of nearly 80 years including 12 in the artillery, and about 50 in the Ministry of the Church of England by NEMO - they are log book jottings, replete with varied incidents, narrated in a simple, unadorned style. There is nothing abstruse in the work, though some of the pages deal with the deep things of God. The drawings were executed in the last sixty years, and have been copied by the same hand, during 1889. The author keeps back his name for many reasins, and prefers to remain anonymous". From internal evidence, my correspondant thinks the author and artist is likely to be the Rev'd. Francis Ashley. The sketch shows the Rev'd. R. Pedder Buddicom, Principal of St. Bees, and the Rev'd David Anderson, Vice-Principal.
a. I'm grateful to Chris Cork, a descendant of archbishop Sandys, for pointing out that the book is properly the Europae Speculum, and that it wasn't written by the archbishop, but by his son, Sir Edwin Sandys.
Photos © Steve Bulman.
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman