A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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PENNINGTON (fn. 1)
Pennigetun, Dom. Bk.; Penigto a, c. 1160; Peninton, 1186; Peningtun, c. 1190.
The parish and township of Pennington occupy a portion of the more level country of Low Furness, midway between the towns of Ulverston and Dalton, but to the north of the village and church begins a valley between two ranges of bare hills, which rise to 700 ft. to 1,000 ft. above sea level. In the valley a reservoir for the Barrow Waterworks was formed in 1879. There is another reservoir lower down for Ulverston. The area measures 2,845½ acres, (fn. 2) and in 1901 there was a population of 1,510. Part of the village of Lindal extends into the south-west corner of this township, where is the hamlet of Whinfield. In the south-east corner is the village of Swarthmoor.
The principal road goes from Dalton through Lindal towards Ulverston, across the south-east part of the township; while another road between the same places takes a more northerly course to pass by the village through Loppergarth and Beckside. The Furness railway also winds through the south-east of Pennington.
Though there are some ancient remains (fn. 3) to be discerned, the history of the parish has been uneventful. There are no manufactures, and the principal occupation is agriculture, for which the land is occupied thus: arable, 507 acres; permanent grass, 2,016; woods and plantations, 5. (fn. 4) Wheat, barley, oats and turnips are grown. The soil is sandy and marly, with gravel subsoil. There are large iron ore mines in the south-west. Blue slate used to be quarried.
According to the county lay of 1624 this parish should contribute 19s. 0¾d. towards each £100 raised in the hundred of Lonsdale. (fn. 5)
Pennington is now governed by a parish council of seven members.
In 1066 Earl Tostig held PENNINGTON as a member of the lordship of Hougun; it was assessed as two ploughlands. (fn. 6) It was included in the grant of Furness to the monks on the foundation of the abbey in 1127. A little later it is found to be held of the abbey by knight's service and rent by a family which took its name from this manor. The Penningtons, however, very early (fn. 7) acquired Muncaster in Cumberland, and made it their residence, and there are few traces in the records of their connexion with Furness. No manor-house is known; it is said to have been at Beckside. Gamel de Pennington, whose name occurs on the ancient tympanum at Beckside, is supposed to have been the founder of Conishead Priory in the time of Henry II (fn. 8); he gave it the church of Pennington. (fn. 9) Benedict de Pennington and Alan his son and heir occur in the latter part of the 12th century (fn. 10); in 1202 Alan son of Benedict granted 2 oxgangs of land in Pennington to Hugh son of Edward. (fn. 11) The custody of Alan son and heir of Thomas de Pennington was in dispute in 1250. (fn. 12) The same Alan may still have been in possession in 1292, when there were disputes between Alan de Pennington and the Abbot of Furness and the Prior of Conishead. The abbot, as head of the wapentake of Furness, had made a distraint at Pennington for puture of a servant and 'witnessman,' which Alan regarded as illegal, but he was non-suited. (fn. 13)
William de Pennington, son of Alan, next appears. (fn. 14) He obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Pennington in 1301, (fn. 15) and served in the Scotch wars. In 1317 a dispute between him and the Abbot of Furness was tried concerning the services due from the manor. (fn. 16) The abbot had in 1314 at 'Quaildalflat' and the Moor in Pennington seized a number of William's cattle by way of distraint, alleging that the due reaping in autumn and ploughing throughout the year had not been done. (fn. 17) The abbot in 1318 made an agreement about it with Sir William, (fn. 18) but the dispute was renewed, and in 1328 he formally released the ploughing and reaping to John son of William de Pennington, John acknowledging that he held the manor of the abbot and convent by the service of the tenth part of a knight's fee, doing suit at the abbot's court at Dalton from three weeks to three weeks and a rent of 30s. yearly. (fn. 19)
John de Pennington died in or before 1334, when his son William was under age. (fn. 20) William was dead in 1376, and his heirs were under age, the wardship being demanded by the Abbot of Furness against Christopher de Broughton. (fn. 21) The next to appear is Sir Alan Pennington, who died in 1415 holding the manor of the Abbot of Furness by knight's service and 30s. rent; his heir was his son John, aged twenty-two. (fn. 22) This John fought at Agincourt and was afterwards a knight. (fn. 23)
A later Sir John Pennington, grandson of the lastmentioned (whose son was John also), (fn. 24) in 1504 made a settlement of this manor (fn. 25); by his will (1505) he left a third part of his lands in Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland to the use of Dame Joan Ogle his wife, with remainders to his sons John (the heir), Alan and William, and in default to the right heirs of his grandfather John Pennington. (fn. 26) The manor passed to a cousin, (fn. 27) and in 1573 William Pennington died in possession. He had in 1562 married Bridget widow of Hugh Askew, and in 1572 had settled the manor of Pennington on their son Joseph, aged eight at the father's death. (fn. 28) The deforciants to fines concerning the manor in 1589 and 1604 were Bridget Pennington, widow, Joseph Pennington, esq., John and William Pennington, gentlemen. (fn. 29) Some later fines are recorded. (fn. 30) William Pennington (the son of Joseph) acquired the manor of Farington in Leyland, and his grandson William was in 1676 made a baronet. (fn. 31) From him has descended the present lord of the manor, Sir Josslyn Francis Lord Muncaster. (fn. 32)
A court baron is held about every three years. The customs of the manor were settled by Joseph Pennington and his tenants, and established by a decree in Chancery in 1654. (fn. 33) Most of them are still in force.
No freeholders were recorded in Pennington in 1600. (fn. 34) In 1631 Thomas Richardson paid £10 for refusing knighthood. (fn. 35) Conishead Priory had land in right of the rectory (fn. 36); Furness Abbey also had some. (fn. 37)
Pennington Moor, some 2,000 acres in extent, was inclosed by an Act of Parliament passed in 1820. (fn. 38)
The church of ST. MICHAEL (fn. 39) stands on rising ground a little to the east of the Castle Hill, (fn. 40) and is a small stone building erected in 1826 on the site of an older church. It is in plan a rectangle 56 ft. 3 in. long by 26 ft. 9 in. wide, with a tower at the west end 10 ft. square, these measurements being internal. There is also a small vestry on the north side of the tower. The demolition of the former church was begun in April 1826, but no trustworthy record seems to have been preserved as to its appearance. Dr. Close, writing in 1805, (fn. 41) speaks of it as 'a small ancient edifice supposed to be the remains of a larger fabric,' and in one of his unpublished MSS., written about 1810, he states that the church of Pennington contained 'remains of a larger fabric, as is evident from several round-topped arches being incorporated in the north side wall. The great doorway on the south is a circular arch with a cheveron or zig-zag moulding.' (fn. 42) Of this ancient building, however, nothing remains in situ, though in the grounds of Fell Mount, now the vicarage, are four stones of transitional character which have formed the capitals of octagonal piers. Each stone is carved at the angles with small human heads, some of which are now broken. (fn. 43) In March 1902 a stone tympanum, apparently of Norman date, but bearing a Runic inscription of Scandinavian type, was discovered at Loppergarth, and is now over the door of an outbuilding at Beckside Farm, to the west of the church. It no doubt belongs to the south doorway of the old church described by Close, though it is not mentioned by him. The tympanum bears the sculptured figure of an angel, and is of red sandstone, 8½ in. thick, 4 ft. long and 2 ft. high. The ornamentation at its base points to its being of 12th-century date. (fn. 44)
The present building is of the plainest description and has no architectural interest. The walls are of limestone rubble and were originally rough-cast. The tower, in the masonry of which some red sandstone is mingled, has diagonal buttresses of three stages, a coarsely embattled parapet and square-headed singlelight windows to the belfry.
A stone inside the tower on the south side is inscribed 'William Bissell, vicar of Pennington, 1784,' and it is possible that the tower may date from that time, though the stone more probably belongs to some part of the former church. There is no vice or staircase, the only access to the belfry being by a trap-door. The roof is slated and there are four plain pointed windows north and south. The east window is of three trefoiled lights, with perpendicular tracery and external hood mould, and seems to be a later insertion. Internally the church has a flat ceiling and retains most of its original fittings, the communion rails being on three sides of the table. The pulpit, however, which stands in the south-east corner, is later and is of wood, in memory of Miss Mary Townson of Whinfield, who died in April 1846, and to whom there is also a brass on the south wall.
The font is a relic of the ancient church now restored after lying for many years at Fell Mount. It has an octagonal bowl of red sandstone, the sides of which, however, except on the east where there is a blank shield, are quite plain, and is probably of 15th-century date. The bowl only is ancient.
A 17th-century carved oak post discovered in 1898 at Fell Mount, somewhat similar in design to those of the Cartmel screen but much smaller, and no doubt belonging to the church, is now in the Barrow-in-Furness Museum. (fn. 45)
There are two bells, one of which is dated 1719 and has the initials R.A. (fn. 46)
The silver plate consists of a chalice of 1617–18 with the maker's mark R.S.; a cup of 1777–8, apparently made for secular purposes, given by the Rev. John Barton at the opening of the present church in 1826 (fn. 47); and a paten or waiter on three feet of 1784–5 with the maker's mark H.B.
The register of burials begins in 1612, that of baptisms in 1613 and that of marriages in 1616. The first two volumes (1612–1702) have been printed. (fn. 48)
Outside the churchyard wall on the south side the stone posts of the stocks remain in position.
From the complaints of the monks of Furness it appears that Pennington was originally a chapel under Urswick, (fn. 49) and they accordingly objected to its being granted to the priory of Conishead as a rectory. An agreement was about 1200 made by which the priory secured it, (fn. 50) and the priors accordingly retained the rectory till the Suppression. They probably served the church by one of the canons of the house. (fn. 51) The value of the rectory was £5 6s. 8d. in 1291, but after the destruction wrought by the Scots in 1322 its poverty excused it from taxation. (fn. 52) In 1341 the value of the ninth of sheaves, wool, &c., was 20s. (fn. 53) The rectory was said to be worth £10 a year in 1527, (fn. 54) but in 1535 the tithes were only £5. (fn. 55)
What happened at the destruction of Conishead is not clear. The Crown seized the rectory and a curate was appointed. In 1609 the rectory—i.e. the tithes and other dues—were sold to the parishioners, (fn. 56) and a vicarage appears to have been created to which the Crown in right of the duchy presented. In 1650 the parishioners believed that they had acquired the advowson also, but in fact the Crown by the Chancellor of the duchy always, so far as known, presented the incumbents. The minister received the small tithes, valued at £12 a year, and no other maintenance, 'only what he hath as from the benevolence of the people.' (fn. 57) In 1717 the regular income was £10, but the parishioners had that year made an agreement to raise another £10. (fn. 58) The present net value is stated as £375. (fn. 59) The patronage was in 1872 transferred to the Bishop of Carlisle. (fn. 60)
The following have been curates and vicars:—
|oc. 1548||Christopher Powle (fn. 61)|
|c. 1560||Thomas Fell (fn. 62)|
|1572||Anthony Knipe (fn. 63)|
|1582||John Hey (fn. 64)|
|1623||William Collier, M.A. (fn. 65)|
|c. 1645||John Crooke (fn. 66)|
|1680||James Mount (fn. 67)|
|oc. 1716||John Benson (fn. 68)|
|oc. 1729||John Stainton (fn. 69)|
|1767||William Bissell, B.A. (fn. 70) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1816||John Sunderland, M.A. (fn. 71)|
|1851||Charles Mortlock, M.A. (fn. 72) (Caius Coll., Camb.)|
|1903||Thomas Edge-Wright (fn. 73)|
In 1690 the church was decently furnished. The minister read the Litany on Wednesdays and Fridays, and celebrated the Lord's Supper three times a year. In 1713 the perambulations at Rogationtide were observed. A school was taught in the church in 1736. (fn. 74)
There is a mission chapel at Swarthmoor, opened about 1887.
The Primitive Methodists and Bible Christians have chapels in the parish.
In 1717 there was a charitable fund of £54, of which £15 was for the vicar; it had been laid out on land. (fn. 75) James Fell in 1743 left £60, half for schooling and books and half for clothing the poor. (fn. 76) By other gifts this was increased to £103. Part of the money was spent on a poor-house and the remainder lent; the last part was lost by bankruptcy. The poor-house was sold in 1866 for £154, invested in consols. (fn. 77) The income of the charity is now £4 12s. 8d., of which one-half, the school being free, is given to poor widows in sums of 3s. 6d. each, and the remainder spent on clothing. Margaret Townson of Whinfield in 1845 left money for the vicar and Elizabeth Ashburner in 1859 for the schoolmaster.