Townships: Cartmel Fell

Pages 281-285

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

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As the name indicates this township consists of a long strip of mountainous country, attaining a height of 950 ft. above sea level on the border of Staveley. It lies between Windermere on the west and the River Winster, the county boundary, on the east. At the southern end is Thorphinsty, with the Fell Chapel about a mile to the north, and Burblethwaite another mile beyond it. Still further north the road from Ulverston descends the hill, going north-east to Kendal, and crossing the Winster at Bowland Bridge. There is no village or considerable hamlet. Addyfield, Hartbarrow, Birket Houses, Ludderburn, Rosthwaite and Gill Head are in the northern end. The population in 1901 was 268. The area is 4,958½ acres. (fn. 1) To meet the road named, two others run north from Lindale and Newton, and there are a number of minor roads. Township affairs are regulated by the parish meeting.


The land in this township was in former times held for the most part by customary tenants of the Prior and canons of Cartmel, a great deal of it being common. (fn. 2) The only estate in it called a manor was that of BURBLETHWAITE, (fn. 3) held for a long time by a family surnamed Gnype or Knipe. In 1351 Roger son of Simon de Knipe held a plat of land in Broughton as appurtenant to his manor of Burblethwaite, the Prior of Cartmel claiming, but unsuccessfully. (fn. 4) Of the owners little is known, (fn. 5) though they continued in possession till the 17th century. From a pleading of 1532 it may be gathered that it was held of the lord of Hampsfield by knight's service. (fn. 6) Burblethwaite was again called a manor in 1561. (fn. 7) An Anthony Knipe died in 1600 holding seven messuages, &, in Cartmel, the tenure not being recorded. His heir was another Anthony son of William Knipe deceased, aged seventeen. (fn. 8) In the 18th century it was held by the Robinsons of Fell Foot, and in 1711 there was a forge there, afterwards used as a corn mill. (fn. 9) In 1827 it was acquired by Thomas Atkinson of Kendal, from whom it passed to the late Mrs. Argles of Eversley, (fn. 10) and then to her son Mr. Thomas Atkinson Argles of Milnthorpe. (fn. 11) A pew in the chapel belongs to the estate. Certain quit-rents are paid to Mr. Argles as lord of the manor. (fn. 12)

Argles of Milnthorpe. Per fesse argent and vert a pale counter-changed, three lions' heads erased gules.

THORPHINSTY (fn. 13) was long held by the Hutton family and their heirs. The earliest reference to it is in 1275–6 when Henry son of Henry de Thorphinsty claimed a messuage and a plough-land against the Prior of Cartmel, alleging that the prior had no right except by one Alexander de Thorphinsty, who had made a grant there to the injury of plaintiff's grandfather, Thomas le Fitz Kelly or son of Ketel. The prior raised a technical objection— that Thorphinsty was neither town nor borough—and plaintiff could not gainsay. (fn. 14) The suit went on for some years, without recorded result. (fn. 15) Henry Hutton held Thorphinsty of the priory in 1508, paying 62s. 8d. a year, an ingress of 16s. 8d., 12d. for tithe hay, 2s. and four hens for tithe of flour. (fn. 16) William Hutton was tenant in 1536, but had not paid his gressom on succeeding; at Thorphinsty there was a considerable growth of small woods and hedgerows, with oaks, ash and underwood. (fn. 17) Thomas Hutton in 1577–85 had to defend his title against other claimants, (fn. 18) and William Hutton held in 1613. (fn. 19) In 1665 the family was of sufficient importance to record a pedigree at the heralds' visitation; George Hutton, aged sixty-one, was then in possession. (fn. 20) A rent of £3 2s. 10d. was due from George Hutton to the Crown in 1670. (fn. 21) The estate belonged to the Rev. James Long Hutton (fn. 22) and James Long in 1796; in 1870 to William Uthwatt of Maids' Moreton. (fn. 23) The present owner is Miss Uthwatt.

Hutton of Thorphinsty. Gules on a fesse or between three cushions ermine two fleurs de lis of the field.

Adam de Hertbergh or Hartbarrow occurs in 1332. (fn. 24) Rosthwaite and Rulbuth were in 1508 held by William Bellingham at a rent of 26s. (fn. 25) The moss was the subject of disputes in the time of Elizabeth. (fn. 26) Hartbarrow in 1535–6 was in dispute between Robert and Christopher Harrison. (fn. 27) Rather more than a century later it was a place of refuge for a Nonconformist tutor, Richard Frankland. (fn. 28)

The Briggs family were long known in the township. Robert Briggs was in 1504 a benefactor to the Fell Chapel, and the large pew yet standing in it was his. (fn. 29) In that year he gave certain plate and jewels to the priory, he and his wife Janet being in return admitted to confraternity; a promise also was made that his son Thomas should succeed to the lands without fine except the 'God's penny.' (fn. 30) His holding of the priory was in 1508 subject to a rent of 16d., also 2d. for services, 3s. 4d. ingress, 2d. for tithe hay, 8d. for carriage and three hens. (fn. 31) His will was made in 1520 and proved in 1521. (fn. 32) He held Brigg House by grant of William Knipe, son of Anthony, who re-entered on possession about 1532 on the plea that the grant had been made by the guardian while William was under age, and that Thomas Briggs, the son of Robert, had without his consent put in an undertenant, contrary to the custom of tenant right. (fn. 33) Miles Briggs and Juliana his wife appear as plaintiffs in 1561 respecting an intake in Cartmel Fell and the chapel there. (fn. 34) Addyfield was in 1703 the property of Rowland Briggs, who left 5s. a year to the sexton of Cartmel Church on condition that his grave should not be broken up. (fn. 35)


The chapel or church of ST. ANTHONY (fn. 36) stands in a lonely situation in a hollow on the side of the fell overlooking the valley of the Winster, and consists of a transeptal chancel, nave, south porch and west tower with a vestry on its north side. The building, erected in 1504–5, (fn. 37) is externally of little architectural interest, all the windows being square-headed with rounded lights and the tower of a rather nondescript character. The walls are of local limestone rubble covered with rough-cast; but the plaster has fallen off in many places, notably along the eastern end of the south wall and on the south side of the tower. The roof was reslated in 1840, and has overhanging eaves, the height of which is only about 13 ft. above the ground, which falls from west to east about 4 ft. 6 in. in the length of the building. The total length of the church inside between the east wall and the tower is 68 ft., and the nave varies in width from 25 ft. 5 in. at the east to 24 ft. 6 in. at the west end. The east end opens out to a width of 32 ft. 8 in., forming a transept 9 ft. 6 in. across, the arms of which are now filled with seats, the middle portion forming the sanctuary. The transepts, however, appear to be later additions, perhaps in the middle of the 16th century, the building originally terminating in a chancel about 17 ft. wide. (fn. 38) The interior is of great interest, having suffered little or nothing from 'restoration,' and preserving fittings belonging to various periods. The floor, which is flagged, falls towards the east, the walls are plastered and whitewashed (that on the south having a considerable batter), and the roof is ceiled at a height of 12 ft. 9 in.

The east window is square-headed, of five rounded lights with double hollow-chamfered jambs, hollowchamfered mullions and external hood mould, and there are three windows of three lights on each side of the nave similar in detail, and all of grey freestone. A later three-light window with wood frame has been cut through the wall on the south side of the chancel, the head of which is plastered over and the sill of which is of slate. On the south side, between the first and second windows from the east and 25 ft. from the east wall, is a square-headed priest's doorway, 2 ft. 8 in. wide, with red sandstone jambs, (fn. 39) above which is a later two-light window, probably inserted in the 17th century when the pulpit was erected. The porch is 9 ft. 10 in. by 6 ft. 5 in., with a wooden seat on each side and plain slated gabled roof with overhanging eaves. The outer opening has a low four-centred arch with hollow-chamfered jambs, and the inner doorway is square-headed. A stone seat runs along the south wall of the building outside between the porch and the priest's doorway.

The tower is 16 ft. square externally with walls 4 ft. thick, and is covered with a slated saddle-back roof. The west door is now built up in the lower part and made into a window, the crown of its segment arch being now only 4 ft. 3 in. above the ground. There is no vice, access to the belfry being only by means of a ladder, and the belfry windows are small square-headed openings with slate louvres.

Recent repairs show that the chancel was originally narrower than the nave. Shortly after the erection of the chapel vestries were added on each side, that on the north having an upper story or priest's chamber, and a window to each story at the east end. The entrance was at the south-west corner of the vestry, the wall being rounded off here to give passage way. In the south vestry is an aumbry. Before the erection of the Comer Hall pew in the 16th century the original north and south walls of the chancel were pulled down and the vestries thrown into the chancel, giving the arrangement now existing. Some ancient glass has been found under the Comer Hall pew which it is proposed to put into the newly-discovered windows at the north end of the east wall of the chancel. (fn. 40)

The great interest of the church lies in its woodwork and ancient glass. The seating of the nave is mostly of plain deal, dating from the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century, but at the east end, north and south, are two older pews, that on the north known as the Comer Hall pew and the southern one as the Burblethwaite Hall pew. The Comer Hall pew is on plan 11 ft. 3 in. by 7 ft. 9 in., the greater length being from east to west, and is of early 16th-century date, with a door on the south side not centrally placed. The moulded corner posts and upper framework remain on the west and south sides, 8 ft. 4 in. in height, but most of the intermediate uprights have gone. On the north side, against the wall, are five oak panels, which have been originally painted each with the figure of a saint with nimbus. The canopy has been surmounted by carved woodwork, now much mutilated, but the cornice on the south side retains a good deal of the original fleur de lis cresting and four shields, three of which are obliterated, the fourth bearing a saltire. On the cornice-level below are gilt cinquefoils and quatrefoils and the letters M. and J. (Mary, Jesus), while stuck over the door is a fragment of a rich canopy, perhaps from the rood screen. The screen has disappeared, but may have stood to the west of the priest's door, the whole of the building eastward, about 29 ft. in length, forming the chancel, and the pew may have been originally on the west side of this. (fn. 41) A portion of the wooden crucifix figure has, however, been preserved. The arms are missing, and nothing remains of the feet but charred stumps. The figure is now kept in the vicarage. (fn. 42)

Plan of Cartmel Fell Chapel

The Burblethwaite Hall pew, which is of Jacobean date, measures about 10 ft. 6 in. by 7 ft. 6 in. on plan, and has a canopy 8 ft. 9 in. high supported by ten turned posts, with fretted frieze, small cornice and panelled top, and stands between the transept and priest's door. On the west side of the door against the south wall is a canopied three-decker pulpit, the middle door of which is dated 1698. Some 17thcentury oak pews are still left, one on the north side of the chancel bearing the date 1696 and the initials W. H., and at the west end of the nave is a larger square deal pew. The communion rail is of 18th-century date, and on three sides of the table, and stands on a single stone step.

The glass in the east window is said to have been first in Cartmel Priory Church, and is of mixed English and Flemish make, probably the remnants of a window representing the seven sacraments, five of which can be traced in the fragments, (fn. 43) together with other fragments of a Crucifixion, St. Anthony and other saints.

The font is a small circular stone bowl of 18th-century date on a tall pedestal and with wooden cover. There is an organ at the northwest end of the nave, and on the north wall are the royal arms and a monument to 'Wil. Sandys Curate of this chapel,' who was buried 3 Aug. 1714, aged twenty-seven. There are also monuments to Margery Poole of Gillhead (d. 1794) and to John Gibson of the Height (d. 1834), his wife and son.

There are two bells, one cracked and without date or inscription, the other by E. Seller of York, inscribed 'Gloria Deo 1734.

The plate consists of an Elizabethan cup and cover-paten without marks, the cup having a band of ornament consisting of parrots or popinjays in various attitudes, among conventional foliage (fn. 44); a cup of 1808 inscribed 'Cartmel Fell 1846,' and a pewter flagon and two pewter plates.

The register of baptisms begins in 1764, that of marriages in 1754, and of burials in 1765.

The churchyard is chiefly on the south side of the building and contains a mounting block with iron post, round which horses' bridles were thrown.


Among the articles given to Cartmel Priory by Robert Briggs in 1504 were a chalice and a 'pese,' which he stipulated were to be lent at Easter time 'to housel with at the chapel of Cartmel Fell.' (fn. 45) By his will, cited above, he left 33s. 4d. a year for life to John Holme, priest, on condition that he took no wages of the hamlet of Cartmel Fell, but prayed for the souls of his benefactor and others; Thomas Briggs was to give him his board. (fn. 46) Anthony Knipe in 1561 deposed that the chapel had been erected about fifty-five years before by his father William Knipe and others, so that they might have divine service celebrated there by a priest paid by them, and that twelve of the most discreet men of the township, elected by the inhabitants who attended the chapel, yearly made a collection for the priest's stipend and for repairs. (fn. 47)

This pleading shows that the chapel continued in use after the Elizabethan changes. In 1650 it was reported that there was no fixed maintenance, and that the minister in charge was 'an old malignant, not reconciled,' named John Brook, previously at the parish church. An allowance of £40 a year had in 1646 been decreed out of Mr. Preston's composition with the Parliamentary authorities. (fn. 48) Various endowments were from time to time given for a 'preaching minister' and a schoolmaster. The two offices were held together, and as there was no schoolhouse in 1717 the children were no doubt taught in the chapel. At that time the certified stipend was £8 10s. 2d. for the 'reader' and £2 10s. for the schoolmaster; the choice lay with the inhabitants, subject to the approval of the minister of Cartmel. (fn. 49) More substantial endowments were secured, and the present net value of the benefice is £165. (fn. 50) Since 1867 the patronage has been vested in the Bishop of Carlisle. A vicarage was built in 1864. The present schoolhouse dates from 1872. The following is a list of the perpetual curates or vicars:—

1782 Thomas Clarke
1790 John Allonby
1827 William Wilson (fn. 51)
1829 Robert Blackburn Cockerton
1862 Thomas Carter
1867 William Summers, M.A. (T.C.D.) (fn. 52)
1909 Thomas Price, M.A. (Queen's Coll., Oxf.)

The chapelwarden's presentments in the early part of the 18th century give some information as to the building and services. In 1702 there was neither font nor surplice. The Burblethwaite quire was 'all ruinous' in 1707. Next year the chapel itself was reported to be 'out of repair' and unfurnished, but this had been remedied by 1712, when there were a font of stone, a communion table with rail, chalice, surplice, &c. A register book was kept, though the existing books do not begin till 1754. The curate in 1732 administered the sacrament three times in the year.

There were 'some Quakers and other Dissenters' in the chapelry in 1707. In 1717 there was a meeting-house of Dissenters about a mile from the chapel, (fn. 53) but nothing is known of it now. It was probably a Baptist chapel. (fn. 54)


  • 1. The Census Rep. 1901 gives 5,029 acres, including 6 of inland water.
  • 2. Cartmel Priory had a large number of tenants in the Fell, as appears by the rental of 1508–9. William Addison heads the list; he paid 5s. farm, 5d. service, 12d. ingress, 1d. carriage and one hen. The payment in lieu of carrying (if that be the meaning of carr') occurs in most of the holdings; in some the tithe of hay was added and in some a payment was made for certain land called wayriddings. William Pepper took a tenement at 12d. a year, paying 1d. for tithe hay; he also had an intake at 12d. and a hen rent and another intake at 6d. rent. Robert Pepper the son of William took a fourth part of the tenement, the prior granting that the father might if he chose place another of his sons in possession for the same gressom. Lawrence Swainson took his father's tenement; he was to occupy half as soon as he came to twenty-one years of age and the rest after the death of his mother. The tenants' names include Gurnell, Birkhead, Marshall, Wales, Strickland, Shaw, Printas, Barwick and Cote. Leonard Garnet had Rawsmoss. Encroachments on the common pasture in the Fell led to disputes in 1577; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 57.
  • 3. Burbelthwayt, 1351.
  • 4. Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 1, m. 3.
  • 5. The disputes with Miles Hriggs in 1561 produced a pedigree showing Anthony Knipe (d. c. 1500) -s. William (living 1505–32) -s. Anthony (living 1561).
  • 6. Duchy Plead. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 3.
  • 7. In pleadings about the chapel cited below, Briggs v. Knipe.
  • 8. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xviii, no. 33. Anthony Knipe of Cartmel Fell was buried 15 Apr. 1620; Cartmel Reg. The will of Thomas Knipe of Burblethwaite was proved at Richmond in 1664. The same or a later Thomas Knipe was a convicted recusant; Misc. (Cath. Rec. Soc.), v, 251.
  • 9. A. Fell, Early Iron Industry of Furness, 199.
  • 10. Stockdale, Annals of Cartmel, 511. In 1811 John Allonby, curate, wrote to the Bishop of Chester respecting the pew of Burblethwaite Manor in the chapel, stating that Mr. Adams, who had purchased the manor, wished to repair the pew and form a burial-place there for his family; note by Mr. Argles.
  • 11. Burke, Landed Gentry.
  • 12. Information of Mr. Argles.
  • 13. Thorfinsty, 1275.
  • 14. De Banco R. 11, m. 68d.; 17, m. 16 d.
  • 15. Ibid. 18, m. 34; 30, m. 41; 38, m. 53d.
  • 16. Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surv. bdle. 4, no. 9. The ingress, also called knowing silver, was a fine due every two years and a half.
  • 17. Ibid. no. 12.
  • 18. Mabel Benson, widow, claimed Thorphinsty in 1577 as heir of her father Oliver Gilpin, according to the 'laudable custom called tenant right' used in the manor of Cartmel, but Thomas Hutton had expelled her; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. ciii, B 16. In 1587 Thomas Allen claimed the tenement under a lease from the Crown for twenty-one years at a rent of £3 2s. 8d. This was the rent formerly paid to the priory. Thomas Hutton said that he and his ancestors had held the same as customary lands of the manor of Cartmel; ibid, cxxxii, A 12. Thomas Hutton was buried at Cartmel 28 Jan. 1601–2; Reg.
  • 19. Named in a grant of Thorphinsty by the Crown to Richard Cartwright; Pat. 11 Jas. I, pt. xi. William Hutton was buried at Cartmel 14 Feb. 1616–17 and Thomas Hutton 23 June 1642; Reg.
  • 20. Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc), 160. The following is an outline of the descent as given: Henry Hutton -s. William -s. Richard -bro. Thomas (d. 1600) -s. William (d. 1617) -s. George -s. William, aged sixteen. See also Northern Genealogist, v, 100–2. George Hutton married Elizabeth Swainson 7 Jan. 1642–3; Reg. The following wills were proved at Richmond: George Hutton, 1679; William Hutton, 1714; Richard Hutton, 1722. Guardianship bond for Richard Hutton, 1722.
  • 21. Named in the sale of Crown rents; Pat. 22 Chas. II.
  • 22. Son of William Hutton of Buckingham, matriculating from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1782, aged sixteen. His father was perhaps the William son of Richard Hutton of Cartmel who matriculated from Queen's College in 1740, aged eighteen; Foster, Alumni Oxon.
  • 23. Stockdale, op. cit. 510.
  • 24. Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 102.
  • 25. Rental of 1508–9 as above.
  • 26. Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 253, 301, 343.
  • 27. Ibid, i, 151, 156.
  • 28. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 29. It is called the Cowmire (Comer) Hall pew. This hall is close to Burblethwaite but on the Westmorland side of the Winster. Thomas Briggs, seated there in 1582, recorded a pedigree in 1615, showing that he had four married daughters to succeed him; Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. (new ser.), i, 119.
  • 30. Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surv. bdle. 4, no. 12.
  • 31. Ibid. no. 9.
  • 32. Ibid. no. 12; his wife's name was then Elizabeth. She was to have the third part of his goods, his son Thomas and daughters Isabel and Helen another third, the remainder to be given for the benefit of his soul. Various bequests were made to relatives and friends and 40 marks was to be spent on his burial.
  • 33. Duchy Plead, ii, 2.
  • 34. Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. xlviii, B 21. Milea Briggs was a clothier, of Crosthwaite.
  • 35. Stockdale, op. cit. 164.
  • 36. There is a well-illustrated account of Cartmel Fell Chapel in the North Lonsdale Mag. ii, 71–7 (Dec. 1896). For glass and woodwork see Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. ii, 389–99, As 'Browhead Chapel' the building is described by Mrs. Humphry Ward in Helbeck of Bannisdale, bk. v, chap. ii. At the time of going to press (1911) it is announced that the church is to be restored. The above description was written in 1909. The object of the restoration is chiefly by means of drainage and gutters to the roof to arrest the decay of the building through damp. The restoration also comprises the taking down of the plaster ceiling and opening out of the roof, opening out the space below the tower, removal of the deal seating and erection of oak pews, recovering with rough-cast the whole of the walling and insertion of a stone window in place of the wooden one in the south transept. The work was commenced in June 1911.
  • 37. a See the account of the advowson.
  • 38. b The position of the east window remains unchanged, the chancel being merely extended to the north and south.
  • 39. The doorway is 6 ft. 2 in. high, but the red sandstone stops on the west side at a height of 5 ft. 8 in. and on the east at 5 ft. 5 in., the head being of limestone.
  • 40. a Information kindly supplied by Mr. John F. Curwen, F.S.A.
  • 41. See J. T. Micklethwaite quoted in Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. ii, 389 seq. 'Cowmire pew is very similar to the "Spring Pew" in Lavenham Church, Suffolk. In the will of Mr. Spring, bearing date 1523, he bequeaths his body to be buried in the church of Lavenham before the altar of St. Katherine, "where I will be made a tomb with a parclose thereabout at the discretion of mine executors." The tomb is gone, and the altar, but the parclose or inclosing screen remains'; note by Mr. J. F. Curwen.
  • 42. It is described by Mr. Aymer Vallance in Mem. of Old Lancs, ii, 233, where there is an illustration of the upper part. It is also illustrated in Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. iii (1876), frontispiece.
  • 43. Baptism and Holy Order are missing. The glass is described at length in Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. ii, 389–99. Stockdale (op. cit. 516–20) relates that in his day a boxful of old stained glass was kept in the vestry, from which pieces were taken from time to time to repair the windows.
  • 44. Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. xv, 247–9.
  • 45. Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surv. bdle. 4, no. 12.
  • 46. Ibid.
  • 47. Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. xlviii, B 21, already cited. The plaintiff, Miles Briggs, attended the chapel, but refused to contribute.
  • 48. Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 142, 193; Plund. Mint. Accts. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 1, 19. George In man was admitted to the chapel in 1658 on the nomination of Philip Bennet, incumbent of Cartmel; ibid, ii, 297–8.
  • 49. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 501–3. There was one chapelwarden, chosen by the curate and the outgoing warden. Some of the curate-schoolmasters' names are known. John Macdowell was licensed in 1683 and was 'conformable' in 1689; he was in deacon's orders only; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 228; Stratford's Visit. List of 1691 (at Chester). William Sandys died as curate in 1714. George Walker was curate in 1716 and — Braithwaite in 1767.
  • 50. Carlisle Dioc. Cal.
  • 51. Promoted to Field Broughton in 1829.
  • 52. Mr. Summers assisted the editors in compiling this list. He resigned in 1909 and died in 1911.
  • 53. Gastrell, op. cit. ii, 502.
  • 54. From the Tottlebank records it appears that there was a Baptist chapel at Cartmel Fell early in the 18th century; Richardson, Bapt. Mfg. Houses in Furness, 16.