Townships: Lower Allithwaite

Pages 265-268

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.

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In this section


Hailiuethait, c. 1160.

Alefthuayth, c. 1240; Alithweit, 1246; Alythwayt, 1277; Alyphtwait, c. 1278; Alingthwayt, 1305; Alyntwait, 1332.

This township occupies part of the comparatively low-lying and level valley in which the town of Cartmel is placed, but on its eastern side contains the southern end of Hampsfell, over 600 ft. high, and then Humphrey Head, 172 ft. above sea level, projects into Morecambe Bay at the south-east corner. The area measures 3,211 acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population was 801.

The church and a large part of the little town of Cartmel lie within the township in the north-west corner, where the Eea Brook forms the boundary. The village of Allithwaite is central, more than a mile and a half south of the church, having Templand and Birkby (fn. 2) to the north-west, Applebury and Outerthwaite to the west, with Rosthwaite on the border, Wraysholme Tower to the south-west, and Kent's Bank to the east. At the last-named hamlet is the Carter's House, taking its name from the guide or 'carter' who used to be stationed there to conduct travellers across the more dangerous part of the sands on the way to Silverdale or to Hest Bank. (fn. 3) On the south shore is a considerable area of marshland, partly reclaimed.

From Cartmel town good roads spread out in all directions, and there are cross-roads, including one from Flookburgh through the village of Allithwaite towards Grange; while a footpath leads south from the village to Humphrey Head. A well, formerly a holy well, exists on the south-west side of this headland; it is a mineral spring of repute, and about 1700 Charles Leigh wrote of it as 'a spring of purging waters in a village called Rougham (or Rougholme), near the sands where a crossing is made into Furness.' (fn. 4) It was formerly resorted to by the lead-miners of Alston Moor, the water being drunk as a cure for the diseases they contracted in their work. The Furness railway runs through the southern end of the township, having a station at Kent's Bank and passing close to Wraysholme Tower.

In Kirkhead Cave, to the east of Wraysholme, have been found relics of the ancient inhabitants of the district, including Roman coins and bronze ornaments. (fn. 5)

Kent's Bank has become a residential place and a summer resort, under the influence of Grange.

A parish council of six members administers township affairs.

There is a village reading-room, with a small library.


Themanor of ALLITHWAITE, which perhaps included both Upper and Lower Allithwaite and Flookburgh, appears to have been held about 1150 by Gospatrick, lord of Workington, who died about 1180, and whose son Thomas, as stated below, made a grant to Furness Abbey. (fn. 6) Hence in later times lands in Allithwaite were stated to be held of their descendants, the Culwens, or Curwens, of Workington. A little after 1200 Thomas son of Thomas son of Gospatrick gave all the vill of Allithwaite to Thomas son of Robert de Harrington, reserving the services of William le Fleming, Adeline de Furness and Peter de Rossegill. (fn. 7) The holding of the Flemings appears to have been granted to the Copeland family, as noticed in the account of Upper Allithwaite, and transferred about 1280 to Robert de Harrington of Aldingham.

The first hint of this occurs in 1277, when Alan de Copeland and Margery his wife complained that Robert de Harrington and others had disseised them of a small piece of land in Allithwaite, and they recovered damages. (fn. 8) From later pleadings (1298– 1300) it seems that Alan de Copeland granted the whole manor of Allithwaite, with lands and mills, to Robert de Harrington, who gave the same to his son Michael; and Michael was in possession in 1298, when Mabel widow of the said Alan claimed dower against him in one plough-land, messuages, rent, &c., in Flookburgh. The defendant called John son of Robert de Harrington, then under age, to warrant him according to the father's charter. (fn. 9) In 1314 the king granted free warren to Michael de Harrington and his heirs in all their demesne lands of Allithwaite. (fn. 10)

The manor probably reverted to the senior branch of the family, for in 1334 it was John de Harrington the elder who made a settlement of Allithwaite; after his death it was to descend to a son Thomas, and in default of issue to Michael and John, other of his sons. (fn. 11) Thomas de Harrington is found in possession between 1350 and 1360, (fn. 12) and John de Harrington, perhaps his son, in 1375, (fn. 13) but after that the evidence fails for a century. (fn. 14) The parts seem to have been given to different members of the family. Thus the manor of Flookburgh was in the hands of Thomas Duke of Clarence in 1412, and part of the same was later held by the lord of Hornby.

In 1489 the main part of the manor, then known as WRAYSHOLME, was in the king's hands, and he gave it to George Lord Strange and his heirs male. Thus the second Earl of Derby held it at his death in 1521, the service of one knight's fee being due for it. (fn. 15) The earl also held land at Birkby. (fn. 16) Wraysholme descended to Ferdinando the fifth earl, (fn. 17) but a few years after his death in 1594 it was sold to the Dicconsons, who had been lessees. The new owners were related to a family already noticed in Leyland Hundred, one Hugh Dicconson being the first known to have been connected with Wraysholme. (fn. 18)

Richard Dicconson, perhaps his son, was in possession by 1576, (fn. 19) and died in 1592 holding a messuage in Humphrey Head of the queen as of her manor of Cartmel in socage; Hugh his son and heir was twenty years of age. (fn. 20) In 1598 it appeared that Hugh held Wraysholme Manor by demise of William Earl of Derby. (fn. 21) When Hugh died at Wraysholme in 1637 it was recorded that he held the capital messuage so named, 20 acres of land in Cartmel and the water corn mill called Allithwaite Mill, of the king by the sixtieth part of a knight's fee. He also held the messuage called Humphrey Head of the king in socage by a rent of 4s. 5d. The heir was his nephew Hugh son of Thomas Dicconson, aged forty. (fn. 22) At the outbreak of the Civil War Hugh took arms against the Parliament, and therefore had his estate sequestrated; it consisted of various lands and a water-mill in Allithwaite. He was allowed to compound in 1649, his fine being £124 10s. (fn. 23) At this point the family is lost sight of.

A century later, in 1756, the Tower was purchased by John Carter of Cart Lanc; from him it went by marriage to the Harrisons of the Landing, near Newby Bridge, (fn. 24) and so passed to Mr. Thomas Newby-Wilson of the same place and Ambleside. (fn. 25)

The Tower is a good example of a peel tower. Erected probably in the latter half of the 15 th century, it measures externally 40 ft. by 28 ft. 6 in., the longer length being from north to south. It is built in local limestone rubble with angle quoins, and at the south-east corner is a projecting garderobe 7 ft. 6 in. by 6 ft. which apparently increases the length of the building on the east side to 46 ft. The tower now forms part of the buildings of a modern farm-house which is attached to it on the west side, erected in 1848, but whether it originally stood alone or belonged to a larger building the remainder of which has disappeared it is impossible to say. There is no inherent reason, however, to suppose that it was anything more than an isolated tower. The walls at the ground floor are 4 ft. thick, the bottom room, now used as a stable, being 31 ft. 9 in. by 21 ft. with a pointed doorway in the north-west corner. There is a narrow window on the south side, but the existing doorway and window on the east and the doorway on the north side are modern. In the south-west corner is a vice going up the full height of the building with a door to each floor and leading to the roof.

The present floor is modern, the tower being originally of three stories each about 8 ft. high, the walls set back at the first floor level, making a room 34 ft. by 22 ft. This room was lit by squareheaded windows 2 ft. 6 in. high by 2 ft. wide, splaying out inside to 3 ft., and had a fireplace 5 ft. wide on the east side, the opening of which, with flat arch and hollow chamfered jambs, yet remains. The second floor has a fireplace opening on the west side and was lit at each end by a square-headed twolight window with trefoiled lights, both of which remain, but that on the south is now completely covered over with ivy and can only be seen from within. There are also two square single-light openings on the east and one on the west side. A large opening 7 ft. 6 in. wide by 11 ft. high has been made in the north end of the east wall at the first floor level, approached by a wooden bridge from the other farm buildings, and in many other ways the structure has suffered from its present use as a barn and stable. The roof is a modern one covered with blue slates, erected about 1870. The upper part of the walls is broken away except on the north side, where a portion of a corbelled parapet wall remains with a small square turret at each corner. The height of the tower to the corbel table is 30 ft. and the turrets rise about 7 ft. above this. The masonry of the garderobe tower is leaving that of the main building, a large crack showing from top to bottom, and the upper part of the tower has disappeared, but the corbel table remains on the east side and was probably continuous all round the building. The south-west corner, where the turret remains, is now completely covered up with a thick growth of ivy.

There was formerly some coloured glass in the windows with the arms of Harrington, but it has all disappeared. Three diamond quarries, however, with the Stanley badge and crest of the eagle's claw and the eagle and child, and the initials possibly of Hugh Dicconson, are preserved in the adjoining farmhouse. (fn. 26)

BIRKBY was in 1653 the property of John Wainhouse and Bridget his wife, (fn. 27) and was acquired by the Fletchers. Later it was owned by a branch of the Askews, being sold by their trustees about 1835 to Robert Wearing, whose son Alan was owner in 1872. (fn. 28)

Abbot Hall at Kent's Bank was the estate of Furness Abbey; it may be supposed, from its position, to have served as a resting-place when the abbot or his officers had to cross the sands. Thomas son of Gospatrick de Cartmel about 1160 granted to the abbey 5 acres in the fields of Allithwaite, with a toft, &c., for the souls of his parents and others. (fn. 29) Since the suppression of the abbey it has passed through many hands. (fn. 30) A modern residence built on the site of the hall is used as a school.

Some minor estates occur in the pleadings (fn. 31) and inquisitions. (fn. 32) The canons of the priory had certain lands occupied by tenants at will, as Humphrey Head (fn. 33) above-mentioned, Templand, (fn. 34) and Kent's Bank. (fn. 35)

The parish church is situated in this township, and St. Mary's, Templand, was built in 1865; it is a vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Chester. The district was assigned in 1866. (fn. 36)

In the town of Cartmel are a small Wesleyan chapel, built in 1871, and a Friends' meeting-house, dating from 1859.

In Cartmel there were only eight 'Papists' known in 1717 and ten in 1767, viz. five in Cartmel, two in Flookburgh and three in Staveley. (fn. 37)


  • 1. The Census Rep. 1901 gives 3,087 acres, including 2 of inland water; also 470 acres of tidal water and 7,635 of foreshore. The areas of all the townships in the parish have been affected by the changes made in 1884 and the formation of Grange in 1894, as recorded above.
  • 2. Gallows Field is between Birkby Hall and the Green; Stockdale, Annals of Cartmel, 45.
  • 3. For the present conditions see the Ulverston Charity Report.
  • 4. Nat. Hist, of Lancs., &c., bk. i, 45.
  • 5. Barrow Nat. Field Club, xviii, 70.
  • 6. For this family see Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. v, 185, &c.
  • 7. Charter in Beck, Annales Furnes. p. lxxii. The grant was attested by William son of Roger (Kirkby), Ralph de Beetham, Michael de Furness and Alan de Pennington. The grantor had a daughter who married Robert de Harrington (living 1279), his inheritance in Workington going to a brother Patrick, ancestor of the Culwent or Curwens; Hutchinson, Cumberland, ii, 143.
  • 8. Assize R. 1235, m. 11. The defence attempted was that the land (less than 1 acre) regarding which complaint was made was the proper soil of Robert de Harrington, sometime waste and untilled but recently brought into cultivation.
  • 9. De Banco R. 122, m. 73 d.; 124, m. 19 d.; 133, m. 68.
  • 10. Charter R. 8 Edw. II, m. 22, no. 49.
  • 11. Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 93.
  • 12. In July 1351 Thomas de Harrington of Allithwaite complained that Agnes widow of Thomas de Hale had broken his houses at Allithwaite; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 1, m. 3. In September 1360 Thomas de Harrington of Cartmel called upon his bailiff in Allithwaite to render account; ibid. 8, m. 8; Assize R. 441, m. 5.
  • 13. He complained that the Prior of Cartmel had made waste in his lands at Allithwaite held of Gilbert de Culwen the elder; De Banco R. 458, m. 336 d.
  • 14. In 1520 Nicholas Harrington and Anne his wife seem to have had some estate in Cartmel, Preesall, &c.; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 11, m. 211.
  • 15. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no, 68.
  • 16. Birkby and Cartmel are named in the same inquisition. This place is no doubt the Britby, formerly the possession of Sir Thomas Broughton, which was with his other lands granted to the first Earl of Derby in 1489; Pat. 4 Hen. VII.
  • 17. Inq. p.m. in Add. MS. 32104, fol. 412, 425.
  • 18. A Dicconson of Cartmel occurs in 1539 as arrested and sent up to London; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (2), 417. Hugh Dicconson in 1555 acquired from Peter Mason and Elizabeth his wife— they were probably of Lathom—a messuage, three burgages, &c., in Cartmel and Flookburgh; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 16, m. 143. Hugh Dicconson as lessee of the manor of Wraysholme claimed a pew in Cartmel Church in right of the same in 1568; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 340.
  • 19. In that year Richard Settle complained that Richard Dicconson had refused to grant, according to promise, a lease of land called Chapel Fields, for the lives of the plaintiff, his wife Elizabeth and his daughter Elizabeth. The defendant alleged neglect and waste; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. cii, S 4.
  • 20. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xv, no. 9. Hugh Dicconson was baptized at Cartmel 23 Aug. 1573; Reg.
  • 21. Ducatus Lanc, iii, 367, 496. In 1628 George Preston of Holker stated that the manor of Wraysholme, with its demesne lands, rents, services, &c., in Allithwaite and Flookburgh, had been granted in 1597 by William Earl of Derby to Hugh Dicconson for £100 paid and a rent of £9 7s. 8d. Dicconson had in 1605 granted the same to Preston for a term of years; Duchy of Lanc. Plead, bdle. 313.
  • 22. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxix, no. 18. Hugh Dicconson had in 1631 compounded for refusing knighthood by a fine of £10; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 223.
  • 23. Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 253. Hugh son of Mr. Thomas Dicconson, perhaps a grandson, was buried at Cartmel 11 June 1657, and another Hugh on 17 Nov. 1663; Reg.
  • 24. Stockdale, Annals of Cartmel, 482–3.
  • 25. In 1790 John Carter gave it to his daughter Dorothy wife of Dennison Thomas Harrison of the Landing, and it descended successively to sons John and Myles. The latter married Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Newby, and their daughter Mary married Thomas Wilson of Lancaster. Their son, the present owner, born in 1839, succeeded to the property in 1867 on the death of his grandmother Mrs. Elizabeth Harrison; information of Mr. Newby-Wilson.
  • 26. These quarries are figured in Roper's Churches, Castles and Ancient Halls of North Lancs. i, 98, where the initials being placed upside down are made to read Q. H.
  • 27. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 151, m. 52; the plaintiffs were Thomas Fletcher, William Pepper and Richard Briggs. Janet daughter of John Wainhouse of Birkby was buried at Cartmel in 1655; Reg. Elizabeth, a daughter, was baptized in 1656; ibid.
  • 28. Stockdale, op. cit. 506. The writer describes an ancient yew tree which grew upon the estate.
  • 29. Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvi, App. 173; Lancs. and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 96.
  • 30. Stockdale, op. cit. 505.
  • 31. William son of Simon in 1246 claimed 22 acres in Allithwaite held by William son of Richard and recovered by default; Assize R. 1045, m. 51 d. In 1319 William the younger son of John Priestson claimed messuages, &c., in Allithwaite against Simon Hamesfel, Robert son of William Hudson and John son of John Tunnockson; De Banco R. 229, m. 116. The Prior and canons of Cartmel in 1400 had licence to acquire an acre of land in Allithwaite held of themselves; Cal.Pat. 1399–1401, p. 263.
  • 32. Richard Barrow died in 1613 holding a messuage, &c., in Allithwaite. His next heir was John ion of Henry Barrow of Lathom, who was to marry Alice daughter of William Barrow of Boore; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1509. John Wright of Churchtown died in 1624 holding New House near the church stile, half the farmery, lands, &c., of the king as of his manor of Hampton Court by the two-hundredth part of a knight's fee. Anne his daughter and heir was fourteen years old; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 436. Anne Wright married Richard Maybury on 31 Jan. 1626–7; Reg. Both died in 1643; ibid. The following had lands in Cartmel, the position of which is not further indicated:— Sir Alexander Standish of Standish died in 1507 holding land in Bare and Cartmel of Lord Dacre; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 25. Robert Baines of Whittington died in 1588 holding messuages in Cartmel of the queen as of the late priory of Cartmel in socage; ibid, xv, no. 11.
  • 33. Lands in Humphrey Head were given to the canons by Gilbert de Bolton and Simon son of Uckeman, as appears by King John's confirmation in 1215; Harl. Chart. 51, H 2. In 1506 the prior granted Humphrey Head on lease to William Thornburgh of Hampsfell (Hampsfield) for forty-two years for £6 13s. 4d. and a yearly rent of £2, and 10s. every two years and a half according to the custom there used. It had formerly been held by Sir Thomas Broughton; Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surv. bdle. 4, no. 12. Humphrey Head was in 1544–5 sold by the Crown to E. Audley and others; Pat. 36 Hen. VIII, pt. ix.
  • 34. Richard Berry took the tenement lately William Holme's at a rent of 12d.; for 7½ acres he was to render 7½ bushels of corn; his ingress was 22½d.; and he took the tithe hay of Wraysholme at 4s. a year; Rental of 1509 in Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surv. bdle. 4, no. 9. The ingress seems to have been a payment due every two and a half years, later called the Knowing. Other tenants were named Punder, Patton, Waller, Chamley, &c. Courtfield is a place-name.
  • 35. Kent's Bank and Grange are placed together in the rental just cited.
  • 36. Lond. Gaz. 13 Mar. 1866.
  • 37. Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xviii, 219.