Windermere Parish


This parish is about ten miles in length and three in breadth, and is bounded on the west and south west by Lancashire, on the north by the parish of Grasmere, and on the east by that of Kendal. It is a highly interesting region, and derives its name from the celebrated lake, anciently called Wynandermere, now Windermere, which is already described at pages 56 and 57,1 together with its islands, tarns, and exquisite scenery. lt contains the townships of Undermillbeck, Applethwaite, Troutbeck and Ambleside Belowstock, which includes part of that town, (see page 258.)

BOWNESS, the capital of this parish, is a beautiful village in Undermillbeck township, charmingly situated near the centre of the eastern shore of Windermere lake, five miles and a half S. by E. of Ambleside, five miles E. by S. of Hawkshead, nine miles W.N.W. of Kendal, and about one mile and a half from the Birthwaite station, on the Kendal and Windermere port of the lake, and has a few fishing boats, for the accommodation of tourists, numbers of whom visit this elysium during the summer months. Here are two excellent hotels, viz., the Royal and the Crown, besides several lodging houses; the former received its present appellation, after Adelaide the Queen Dowager had visited this place, on the 24th of July, 1840, where she was received with much demonstration of loyalty. The joiners and boat builders give employment to a considerable number of hands, and here are a few good shops, some of which are very tastefully fitted up. A Circulating Library and Gentlemen's News Room has been established at Bowness, about twenty six years, Mr. Robt. Forrest, secretary and librarian, and a branch of the Kendal Savings' Bank was opened here in 1848. In March, 1849, it had deposits amounting to 140 16s. 9d., belonging to thirty-five different depositors, of whom fourteen were under fifteen years of age. A small market for flesh is held here every Wednesday, and a fair was formerly held on the 18th October, but it has long been obsolete.

The Parish Church,  dedicated to St. Martin, is an interesting fabric, with a square tower and four bells. It is in the Gothic and Norman style of architecture, and was erected about the year 1495, when "King Richard III granted a warrant for five marks (3 6s. 8d.), towards building the church of Winandermere." This comparatively ancient structure stands in the centre of the village, and its burial ground is shaded by mournful yews and a few dark firs, fantastically entwined with ivy. The large chancel window is of beautifully stained glass, which is supposed to have belonged to Furness abbey, and consists of seven partitions, in three of which is depictured the crucifixion, with the Blessed Virgin on the right, and the beloved disciple on the left of the cross; below which appear a group of monks in their habits, and the abbot in his vestment. In another partition are the figures of St. George and the Dragon, in another St. Catherine with a wheel and sword, the emblems of her martyrdom; and in another two mitred abbots, and two monks in their vestments. Near the top of the middle partition are painted the arms of England and France, and the other parts of the window are filled with pieces of tracery and the arms of several benefactors. Amongst the numerous tablets in the church are several handsome ones of a modern date, especially that in memory of Richard Watson, D.D., Bishop of Llandaff, who was interred here in 1816, and who is already noticed at page 270.

The Church was formerly only a chapel of ease, under Kendal church, "and in token of subjection the rector pays to this day an annual pension of 13s. 4d. to the vicar of Kendal," being the sum anciently paid to St. Mary's abbey, York. In 1535, it appears to have been a distinct parish, for in that year the rectory is valued in the king's books at 24 6s. 8d. It was subsequently certified to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty at 78, viz., "parsonage house and 30; compositions, tithes of wool and lamb, and other small tithes 44; and surplice fees, 4; for the receiver of the crown rents 1 13s. 4d.; and to the vicar of Kendal, 13s. 4d." The tithes of the parish have lately been commuted for a yearly rent charge of 87, viz., Undermillbeck 12, Applethwaite 27, Troutbeck 34, and Ambleside below Stock, 14. The advowson continued in the crown till 1568, when it was granted by Queen Elizabeth to William Herbert and John Jenkins, to hold in free soccage as of the manor of East Greenwich. After several
conveyances it was purchased by Sir William Fleming, of Rydal, Bart., who bequeathed it to his four daughters, whose heirs present in turn to the rectory, which is now enjoyed by the Rev. Sir Rd. Fleming, Bart. for whom the Rev. Robert Percival Graves, M.A., officiates. The rector has a "prescription of so much a boat, in lieu of all the tithes, of fish caught in the lake, which is divided into twelve fisheries." The parsonage has upwards of forty acres of glebe, reaching from the house to the water side, now let at about 153 per annum. About seventy years ago this house was represented as the only respectable building in the place.

Bowness Free School, for the boys of Undermillbeck and Applethwaite townships, is endowed with about 50 a year, arising from an estate purchased in the early part of the last century, with 200 subscribed by the inhabitants of those townships. The old school was built by another subscription, about the year 1637, and the management of its affairs was afterwards vested in four trustees and ten feoffees. The present school is a handsome building, occupying a pleasant and healthful situation, on an eminence a little east of Bowness. It was erected about thirteen years ago, by the late John Bolton, Esq., of Storr's Hall, who died in 1837, and lies buried in Bowness church yard, where a handsome tablet is raised to his memory. The schoolmaster also receives the rents of the market house, and of the old school, and likewise a cock penny given by each scholar on Shrove Tuesday. The present master is Mr. James Jackson.

Undermillbeck township comprises also the small hamlets of Cleabarrow, one mile and a half E. by S., Matson-Grand one mile W.2, and Lindeth one mile and a half S.S.E., with many dispersed seats and farm houses. The principal landowners are the Rev. Edw. Staniforth, Storrs hall; Rev. Fletcher Fleming, Rydal Lodge, and Messrs. Thos. Ullock, John Collinson, Thomas Garnett, and Thomas Dixon, the latter of whom owns the estate called Bellman Ground, two miles S.E. of Bowness.

Storr's Hall, which stands in a picturesque situation, on a promontory above the lake was built by Sir John Legard, Bart., but greatly improved by its late owner, John Bolton, Esq. Winster chapelry, as has been stated at page 315, is united with this township. The manor being of the Richmond Fee, like the rest of the parish, is held by the Earl of Lonsdale. Rateable value 4697 5s.

APPLETHWAITE township comprises the whole of the Windermere lake and a great part of the parish lying north of Bowness, and east of Troutbeck; and the number of handsome villas and farm houses with which it is dotted, impart an agreeable diversity of character to the scenery, and enliven its picturesque appearance.

Birthwaite Abbey, the seat of the Rev. John A. Addison, M.A.; Ellerlay, the seat of W.D. Crewdson, Esq.; The Wood, the residence of Miss Jane Yeates; Ray Rigg, the residence of Major Rogers; Calgarth Park, the residence of Edw. Swinburn, Esq.; St. Catherine's, the seat and summer residence of the Earl of Bradford, near to which there was formerly a chapel dedicated to that saint; The How, Capt. John Wilson; Orrest Head, John Braithwaite, Esq.; and several other handsome villas, are all within this
township, and are distant from about a mile and a half to four miles of Bowness. Birththwaite, which is about one and a half miles N.E. from Bowness, is the terminus of the Kendal and Windermere railway, and here is a splendid Hotel, denominated the Windermere Hotel, recently erected for the accommodation of visitors and tourists. It commands a delightful view of Windermere, and the magnificent and interesting scenery of a great portion of the lake district. Near to the hotel is a handsome chapel, erected in 1848, at the sole expense of the Rev. J.A. Addison, M.A. It is in the pointed Gothic, or early English style of architecture, with stained glass windows, and is calculated to seat 220 persons. The sittings are all free and unappropriated, and it is floored with encaustic tiles of various designs. This sacred edifice, which is dedicated to St. Mary, was erected at a cost of 1000 and is endowed with a like sum given by a friend of the worthy clergyman by whom it was erected. Mr. Thompson, of Kendal, was the architect.

Calgarth, formerly called Calfgarth, was for many generations the principal seat of the ancient family of Philipson, who were descended of Philip, a younger son of De Threlwall, of Northumberland, and who settled here about the middle of the sixteenth century. The hall which they occupied is now the residence of a farmer. In 1789, Dr. Watson, the worthy Bishop of Llandaff, commenced building his beautiful seat, called Calgarth Park, which, as has been seen, is now occupied by Edw. Swinburn, Esq.

At Misslett, an estate in this township, belonging to Mrs. Jane Braithwaite, of Kendal, is a burial ground, belonging to the society of Friends, who had also a meeting-house here, now converted into a dwelling. The largest landowners of Applethwaite township are John Braithwaite, Esq., the Earl of Bradford, L. Watson, Esq., and Captain J. Wilson. To our account of Windermere lake, &c., at pages 56 and 57,1 we may add that at the time of the commonwealth, Curwen's Island,4 which now belongs to the Curwens of Workington, was the property of the Philipsons of Crook hall, one of whom possessed such a bold and martial spirit as procured for him the nickname of "Robin the Devil." His daring exploit of riding into Kendal church on a Sunday, during divine service, in search of Colonel Briggs, is thus mentioned by Sir Walter Scott, in his poem of Rokeby:-

"All eyes upon the gateway hung,
As through the Gothic arch there sprung
A horseman arm'd - at headlong speed -
Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed,
Fire from the flinty floor was spurned,
The vaults unwonted clang returned," &c.

(See also Crook Township at page 298)

TROUTBECK township and chapelry occupies a picturesque vale, watered by a stream which rises at the foot of High street mountain, and flows southward to Windermere. It comprises a string of hamlets bearing the names of Town end, Town head, High green, Cragg, and High fold, and extends from three to four miles N. by E. of Bowness, and S.E. of Ambleside. Its principal land-owners are L. Watson, S. Tyson, Esqrs., and Mr. Nicholas Wilson, and its rateable value is 1187 1s. 11d. "The township is divided into three divisions called hundreds, each of which has six hundred cattlegates, of two acres each, on the extensive common, and had a common bull, constable, and bridge," from which originated the saying, that "Troutbeck has three hundred bulls, three hundred constables, and three hundred bridges." It has now only one constable, nor are his labours excessively onerous.

The chapel, which stands near the centre of the township, is a neat edifice with a square tower and one bell, and is capable of seating about one hundred and sixty hearers. It was consecrated by the name of Jesus Chapel, by Bishop Downham, in 1562, for the use of the inhabitants of Troutbeck and Applethwaite, and was thoroughly repaired in 1828. The curacy is in the gift of the rector of Windermere and incumbency of the Rev. William Sewell. In 1747, 1756, and 1773, its ancient revenue was augmented with certain sums of Queen Anne's Bounty, amounting to 600 which, with 200 given by the Countess Dowager Gower, was laid out in the purchase of two estates in Yorkshire; one in Dent, and the other at Marthwaite Foot, near Sedbergh. In 1826, the living was again augmented with 400 more from Queen Anne's Bounty, and previously with various donations amounting to 75 vested in the Ambleside turnpike, so that the benefice is now worth about 50 per annum. The school was built in 1639, out of a fund raised amongst the inhabitants for the curate and schoolmaster. It possesses a small endowment, arising from the interest of various gifts.

At Troutbeck there was formerly an extensive park, which was disparked and divided amongst the inhabitants several centuries ago. In the new park, which is an estate of two thousand acres, is an abundance of blue slate. It was given by Charles I to Huddlestone Philipson, of Crook, for his services in the civil wars. This grant was confirmed to his son, Christopher Philipson, who afterwards received the honour of knighthood. From an elevation in this township, called Gallow hill, it would appear that the Steward of this manor under the crown formerly exercised a jurisdiction over capital offences. Spying How and Woundale Raise are supposed to be British sepulchres, but the heap of stones at the former was removed by the inhabitants about one hundred and sixty years since, and used in the erection of their fence walls. Hugh Hird, the Troutbeck Giant, is said to have been a man of wonderful strength and appetite. There is a tradition that at the building of Kentmere hall, he lifted a beam which ten men tried in vain to move, and when sent by Lord Dacre with a message to the King, he astonished the royal household by eating up a whole sheep to his dinner, having previously ordered it to be cooked for him under the name of "the sunny side of a wether."

From the elevated parts of the road near Troutbeck bridge are obtained splendid views of the following mountains, viz.: Coniston Old Man, Tilberthwaite Fell, Wrynose, Great Cove, Scawfell Pikes,5 Bow Fell, Great Gavel,6 Langdale Pikes, Loughrigg Fell, and Fairfield; and at Kirkstone, in this township, is the highest inhabited house in England.

(For Ambleside-below-Stocks, see Ambleside)


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




1. Not yet transcribed.
2. Probably absorbed into Bowness.
3. Matson Ground is probably meant, but this is east of Bowness, not west.
4. A large island near to Bowness - in fact it almost divides the lake in two. Curwen's Island was subsequently known as Long Holm, and acquired its current name (Belle Isle) in Victorian times.
5. Now more commonly Scafell Pike.
6. Now Great Gable.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman