Saint John Beckermet Parish

  The parish of Saint John Beckermet, or Beckermont, is bounded by the parishes of St. Bridget, St. Bees, Hale, and Egremont, being about three miles in length from east to west, and 1 mile in breadth from north to south, and containing the suburbs of the town of Egremont, and part of the village of Beckermet, as divided by the Kirkbeck. It contains 468 inhabitants, and 2352 rateable acres of land, (rated at 2345 10s.) belonging to W. Hartley, Esqr., Mrs. Clarke, Henry Gaitskell, Esqr., and some smaller owners, but lady le Fleming, of Rydall Hall, Westmorland, is lady of the manor, which has been held for several centuries by the Fleming family, as demesne of the barony of Egremont; and Rottington, Fresington1, Arlecdon, and Weddicar, have been held as fees of Beckermet.

Beckermet is a large village, at the junction of the Black-beck and Kirk-beck rivulets, 2 miles south of Egremont. The present Church, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is an ivy-covered edifice, occupying a delightful situation on the side of a hill, and consisting of a nave and chancel, with a west porch, and a bell turret carrying two bells. It was rebuilt about the year 1810, when the porch and the remains of a cross on the east end of the chancel were preserved from the old fabric. The church of St. John was given by the Flemings to the abbey of Mary, at Calder; and in the year 1262, was totally appropriated to that house. The curacies of St. John and St. Bridget were each certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at 7 per annum. Henry Gaitskell, Esq., is the present patron and impropriator, and the Rev. William Hayes is the incumbent.

Wotobank, or Wodowbank, near the village of Beckermet, is the seat of William Hartley, Esqr., and the name is derived by traditionary etymology from "Woe to this bank," words uttered by one of the lords of the manor in the first transports of his grief, on finding his lady slain by a wolf, and the ravenous beast in the act of tearing her to pieces. This village anecdote is the ground work of a long romantic poem called "Edwina," written by Mrs. Cowley, in 1794, and contained in Hutchinson's Cumberland.

Mr. John Richardson, of Carleton, in this parish, who died in 1811, left the interest of 100 to be distributed at Easter, to the poor not receiving parochial relief; and in 1833, Mrs. Jane Birley left the interest of 50 for the same purpose. There are marble monuments in the church to their memory.


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




1. Fresington - presumably Frizington.

30 April 2008

Steve Bulman