A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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Hawkshead And Monk Coniston; With Skelwith; Claife; Satterthwaite
The well-defined tract composing the present parishes of Hawkshead and Colton was formerly a chapelry under Dalton, not becoming an independent parish till 1578; a century later Colton was cut off from it, leaving the existing parish of Hawkshead. (fn. 1) The scenery is good, though the central vale in which is Esthwaite Water is pleasing rather than grand, for the parish occupies the hilly country between Windermere and Coniston Water. The ridges of the hills are mainly north and south, and the district is well wooded; the higher Fells are covered with heather. Looking out of the parish the spectator has the beauties of Windermere to the east and the grandeur of the Westmorland mountains and Coniston Fells to the north and west. The parish has not yet been entered by the railway, and remains on the whole very secluded, though the summer excursionists are driven across the centre from Windermere Ferry to Coniston to see, in passing through, Hawkshead and the school where Wordsworth was educated (1778–86). Wordsworth has many references to this part of the Lake Country in his works, but we are warned that the impressions recorded in the Prelude have been transmuted by the poetic faculty. (fn. 2)
The area of Hawkshead is 22,330 acres, and in 1901 there was a population of 2,100. Many of the old industries have decayed or died out, but agriculture, particularly sheep farming, remains. (fn. 3) The land is now employed as follows (fn. 4) :—
|Arable land ac.||Permanent grass ac.||Woods and plantations ac.|
The story of the district, apart from the general story of Furness, has been uneventful. The monks administered it through a number of bailiwicks, which in later times were sometimes called manors. The parish has more recently been divided into four quarters, which were thus defined in 1717:—(1) Claife; (2) Monk Coniston, Skelwith and Arnside; (3) Satterthwaite, Dale Park, Grizedale and Graythwaite; (4) Hawkshead, Hawkshead Field and Fieldhead. (fn. 5) The affairs of the parish were managed by the sidesmen or Twentyfour. (fn. 6) At present there are parish councils in each of the modern townships—Hawkshead (seven members), Skelwith (five), Claife (five) and Satterthwaite (five)—under the Act of 1894.
Two noteworthy friendly societies were established in the prosperous times at the end of the 18th century. The Amicable Society was formed in 1792 to provide assistance for its members in time of sickness or death. It was dissolved about 1890. The Female Union Society claims to be the oldest friendly society for women in England; it was formed in 1798, and the rules are dated 1808 (fn. 7); the membership is now declining steadily.
The ancient superstitions of the district included the practice of burying a calf at the threshold of the cow-byre in case a cow had given birth to more than one dead calf; also the need-fire through which cattle were driven to counteract bewitchment. (fn. 8)
The noteworthy men of Hawkshead begin with Edwin Sandys, born in the parish, probably at Esthwaite Hall, in 1516. (fn. 9) He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, taking his B.A. degree in 1538–9. (fn. 10) He became an extreme Protestant, joining in the attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne in 1553. Though he lost the mastership of St. Catharine's Hall and was imprisoned in the Tower for a while, he was pardoned and set free. He judged it best, however, to fly to the Protestant cities of the Continent, living at Strasburg and Zurich until the accession of Elizabeth. He was then marked out for promotion at home, being appointed to the see of Worcester in 1559, London 1570 and York 1575, showing himself always a bitter persecutor of Roman Catholics. (fn. 11) He has been accused of enriching himself and his relatives at the expense of his sees. (fn. 12) His best side is shown in the foundation and endowment of the grammar school in his native place. He died in 1588 and was buried at Southwell. (fn. 13)
George Walker, a kinsman, was born at Hawkshead in 1581, educated at St. John's, Cambridge, and attained some distinction as a Puritan divine, having a church in London. He allowed £20 a year to the minister at Hawkshead and provided a house for him. He died in 1651. (fn. 14)
Sir William Rawlinson of Graythwaite, born in 1640, became a distinguished Chancery lawyer and a serjeant-at-law; he died in 1703. (fn. 15) Daniel Rawlinson of Grizedale, 1614–79, became a wine merchant in London, and was a benefactor of his native place. (fn. 16) His son Sir Thomas Rawlinson was born in London in 1647; he became lord mayor and died in 1708. (fn. 17) His son Richard, 1690–1758, a famous collector, left his MSS. to the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and founded an Anglo-Saxon professorship in the University; he was a nonjuring bishop. (fn. 18)
Isaac Swainson, M.D., 1746–1812, was son of John Swainson of High House. Going to London in youth he became a patent medicine proprietor and physician, but is best known as a botanist. (fn. 19)
The most famous resident is John Ruskin, born in London in 1819. His history does not belong to the district, (fn. 20) though he had known it from childhood, but in 1871 he purchased Brantwood on the eastern side of Coniston Water and there spent his last years. He died 20 January 1900, and was buried at Coniston. (fn. 21) The same house had previously been occupied by Gerald Massey, the poet; William James Linton, the wood engraver; and Mrs. Eliza Lynn Linton, the novelist. Elizabeth Smith, a young and talented linguist, celebrated by De Quincey, died of consumption in 1806 at Tent Cottage, near the Lake. (fn. 22)
Thomas Alcock Beck, 1795–1846, was a native of Newcastle-on-Tyne, but settled at Esthwaite Lodge, where he wrote his Annales Furnesienses (fn. 23)
Dr. J. W. Whittaker, vicar of Blackburn, once lived at Belmount, to the north of Hawkshead, a house built by Vicar Braithwaite. (fn. 24)
The church of ST. MICHAEL (fn. 25) stands on the summit of a rounded hillock behind the market-place on the south-west side of the town and consists of a chancel and nave with north and south aisles forming on plan a parallelogram 82 ft. long by 51 ft. wide, with south porch 9 ft. 8 in. by 7 ft. and west tower 11 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. There is also a vestry on the north side of the tower. From the churchyard on the north and east sides there are magnificent views of the Lake mountains.
The building is very plain in character and of little architectural interest, and no part of it is earlier than the end of the 15 th or beginning of the 16th century. It is built throughout of rubble masonry of local Silurian stone, and was originally covered externally with rough-cast in the manner usual in the district. The plainness of the detail outside and within makes it difficult to arrive at any very definite conclusions as to the date of the building, the round piers and heavy segmental arches of the arcade, sometimes spoken of as Norman, being probably of late date, an example of local building perhaps of the early 16th century. The north aisle, however, appears to have been built, or rebuilt, by Archbishop Sandys in 1578, that date with his initials being over the north-east entrance. The date 1633 on the exterior of the south clearstory also indicates some reconstruction at that time. In 1763 the ' common forms or seats' were ' old, decayed, and in a ruinous condition,' and it was resolved to replace them, but the work was not carried out till 1794. A resolution to build a vestry ' on the north side of the steeple' was also carried in 1763, but the vestry was not erected till 1793. The alterations then effected subsisted till the year 1875–6, (fn. 26) when the whole edifice was restored, the external plaster removed, new roofs erected and the nave reseated.
The chancel and nave are under one roof and without internal distinction, and are divided from the aisles by an arcade of five arches extending to within about 2 ft. from the east end. The chancel extends westward 25 ft. 9 in., comprising the first bay and part of the second, but this arrangement dates only from the time of the restoration. The chancel is 22 ft. 3 in. wide, and is lit at the east end by a modern five-light pointed window with perpendicular tracery. (fn. 27) All the fittings are modern, and there are no remains of any ancient ritual arrangements.
The nave is 56 ft. 4 in. long and of the same width as the chancel. The arcades are rather unusual in character, consisting of massive segmental arches 12 ft. 6 in. high to the crown, springing from circular piers 3 ft. in diameter and 7 ft. 3 in. in height. The piers and arches, together with the whole of the interior walling, are plastered, but at the time of the restoration (1875), on one of the piers being stripped, it was found to be built of thin quarried local stones, and the half pier at the west end of the south arcade was found to be not bonded into the wall. The piers are without bases or capitals, the arches above, which are of a single square order and of the same thickness as the piers, sitting rather awkwardly upon them. On the south side the two westernmost piers and the west respond are roughly square on plan with rounded angles, but all the others are circular. The curious coloured ornament on the arches, walls and piers is in great part old, having been discovered at the time of the restoration and touched up. (fn. 28) The clearstory is probably an addition in Elizabethan times, and may have been erected at the same time as the north aisle. It consists of four square-headed windows of three lights on each side, rather widely spaced, those on the north side being of wood with external wooden lintels. The date 1633 on the south side may refer to the replacing of wooden windows by stone ones at that time. The roof is a plain open timber one of nine bays, covered with modern blue slates and with overhanging eaves, and the aisles have similar lean-to roofs. The north aisle is lit by four square-headed windows of three lights and by a five-light window at the east end, all of late detail, showing traces of the Renaissance, with rounded jambs and mullions and external labels terminating in a kind of drop ornament. The east end was reserved as a private chapel for the use of the Sandys family, and is inclosed by a modern wooden screen in a line with the chancel steps and immediately to the west of the north east doorway. The door, which is 25 ft. from the east end of the building, is 2 ft. 8 in. wide with moulded jambs and a semi-octangular head, above which is a stone panel with the arms and initials of Archbishop Sandys (E.S.) and the date 1578. The chapel contains a large table tomb erected by the archbishop to the memory of his father and mother, William Sandys of Graythwaite and Margaret Dixon. The figures are of stone and rather rough in workmanship. The man is in armour, with his head on a cushion and his feet on a lion, and the lady's feet rest upon a lap-dog. (fn. 29) On the head and sides of the tomb are the arms of Sandys with the initials E.S., with a shield on either side, and around the tomb is the following inscription:—
CŌDITR · HOC TVMVLO · GVLIELM' · SAND' · ET · VXOR
CVI · MARGARETAE · NOMEN · ET · OMEN · ERAT
ARMIGER · ILLE · FVIT · P[RE]CHAR' · REGIB' · OLIM
ILLA · SED · EXEMPLAR · RELIGIŌIS · ERAT ·
CONIVGII · FVERANT · AEQVAIL · SORTE · BEATI ·
FOELICES · OPIBVS · STEMMATE · PROLE · FIDE ·
PIGNORA · DIVI[N}I · FVERĀT · HAEC · MAGNA · FAVORIS
HAEC · TAMĒ · EDWINI · CV[N]CTA · RETV[N]DIT · HONOS
QVI · DOCTOR · RECTORQ3 · SCHOLAE · CFSOR · QOQ3 · PRSVL
TER · FVERAT · MERIT · PHOEB' · IN · ORBE · SACRO ·
QVOS ·AMOR · ET · PIETAS · LECTO · CŌIV[N]XIT · EODĒ
HOS · SVE · SPE · VITAE · CŌTINET · ISTE · LAPIS. (fn. 30)
The north doorway at the west end of the north aisle has moulded jambs similar to those of the windows, but a modern elliptical arched head with imposts, keystone and projecting voussoirs.
The south aisle has five square-headed windows, two of which of three lights each are modern. Of the others the westernmost is of red sandstone, and has three trefoiled lights with external label and hollow-chamfered mullions and jambs. Next to it is a two-light window of grey stone without label, with square-chamfered jambs and mullion, and the easternmost window is an original one of two lights of red sandstone with hollow-chamfered jambs and mullion and external label. At the east end of the aisle is a square-headed three-light window of grey stone with hollow-chamfered jambs and mullions, but no label, and at the west there is a window of two lights. The priest's doorway is of red sandstone with hollow-chamfered jambs and pointed head, but is now built up. The east end of the aisle is occupied by the organ, which was removed to this position from the west end in 1875, and is inclosed by an oak screen erected at that date. The organ was rebuilt and enlarged in 1895.
The porch has a pointed outer arch with plain stone gable above and slated roof with overhanging eaves. There are three slit windows in each wall and wood seats on each side. The inner doorway has a segmental head, and there are two steps up into the church.
The west tower is very plain in character, without buttresses or vice, the only means of access to the upper stage being by a ladder on the south side. The west doorway is pointed, of a single chamfered order and without label, but only the jambs are old. Above is a plain square-headed two-light window, and the belfry windows appear to have been also of two lights, but the mullion has been cut away and the opening filled with wide wood louvres. The embattled parapet and angle pinnacles have been rebuilt, and there is a clock dial on the north and south sides. (fn. 31) The tower arch is modern, of a single chamfered order dying into the wall at the springing.
All the fittings, including the font and pulpit, are modern.
On the south side of the chancel is a brass to Robert Benson and Sarah his wife, who died in 1750 and 1769, at the respective ages of ninety and ninety-seven: 'They had 4 sons and 6 daughters who lived to be men and women, of whom 7 attended their mother to the grave, whose ages made together 450 years.' At the west end of the nave on either side of the tower arch are mural tablets of good Renaissance design to Daniel Rawlinson, merchant (d. 1627), and to his son Sir Thomas Rawlinson, Lord Mayor of London 1716, which were brought here from St. Dionis Backchurch, London, after its demolition in 1878. Under the tower is a 17thcentury chest, 6 ft. 8 in. long, with three locks.
There is a ring of six bells by James Harrison of Barrow, Lincolnshire, 1765. (fn. 32)
The plate consists of a chalice of 1720–1, with the maker's mark T. F. in a lobed escutcheon, and inscribed 'Hawkshead Church'; a chalice of 1759– 60 similarly inscribed, and with the maker's mark W. or W. C.; and a paten of 1736, with the maker's mark R. B., inscribed on the foot 'Given for use of the Parish Church of Hawkshead in Lancaster, 1736.' (fn. 33) There are also two pewter flagons and a pewter almsdish.
The registers begin in 1568. The earliest volume (1568 to 1704) has been printed. (fn. 34)
On the north-east side of the churchyard is a stone pedestal sundial, the plate of which is dated 1693.
The chapel at Hawkshead was included in the agreement between the monks of Furness and the canons of Conishead about 1200, by which it was secured to the monks. (fn. 35) It had perhaps been considered in earlier times either an independent church or a chapel to Ulverston, and the rector of Ulverston renounced all claim to it, though he seems to have been in actual possession and was continued there by the monks. (fn. 36) Under Furness Abbey Hawkshead became a chapel to their church at Dalton, (fn. 37) and so continued until 1578, when Archbishop Sandys is said to have assigned a separate parish to it. (fn. 38) The rectory was then in the queen's hands, as part of the possessions of the suppressed abbey, and £10 a year was allowed to the incumbent. In 1575 it was recommended that this should be increased to £30. (fn. 39) The rectory was sold by James I in 1615, (fn. 40) and was soon afterwards acquired by the Kirkbys of Kirkby Ireleth. (fn. 41) In 1650 it was stated that the minister had certain tithes allowed, but his chief maintenance appears to have been £20 given by Mr. Walker. (fn. 42) The incumbent's income was £42 in 1717, the impropriator giving £20 of it. (fn. 43) At present the net value is stated to be £375. (fn. 44) The patronage remained with the Crown in right of the duchy until 1872, when on exchange it was transferred to the Bishop of Carlisle. (fn. 45)
The following have been incumbents:—
|? 1578||Peter Magson (fn. 46)|
|? 1616||Francis Magson (fn. 47)|
|oc. 1646||William Kempe (fn. 48)|
|1653||Charles Crow (fn. 49)|
|1657||Christopher Edmondson (fn. 50)|
|1675||Henry Nicholson (fn. 51)|
|1680||Thomas Bell, M.A. (fn. 52)|
|1713||Richard Swainson (fn. 53)|
|1720||William Bordley (fn. 54)|
|1812||George Park (fn. 55)|
|1829||Patrick Comerford Law, B.A. (fn. 56)|
|1830||Thomas Lovick Cooper, M.A. (fn. 57) (Magdalene Coll., Camb.)|
|1834||George Park (fn. 58)|
|1865||Richard Greenall, M.A. (fn. 59) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1875||John Allen, B.A. (Lond.)|
|1892||Edward William Oak, B.A. (fn. 60) (Emmanuel Coll., Camb.)|
|1909||Thomas Henry Irving, M.A. (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
All that is known of the provision for the parishioners made by Furness Abbey in return for the tithes is that at the Dissolution in 1537a stipend of £6 13s. 4d. was paid to the curate of Hawkshead, John Taylor. (fn. 61) Nothing is said of the other chapels —Colton, Satterthwaite and perhaps Graythwaite. To serve all would require three or four priests, and the visitation list of 1548 records the names of five then at Hawkshead, headed by John Kirkby, curate; there were three in 1554 with another whose name was erased, and in 1562 Nicholas Dickeson was curate. (fn. 62) It is related that in 1538 one John Heashagh of Hawkshead broke the image of St. George there, saying, 'Let me see now how thou canst fight again,' as he broke the sword of the image upon it. (fn. 63) What happened after the changes under Elizabeth is unknown. The duchy provided the curate at Hawkshead as shown above; the other chapels probably were for a time served, if served at all, by 'readers,' till some improvement, as is believed, was made at Colton by Archbishop Sandys in 1578.
From a report made to the Bishop of Chester in 1693 it appears that the church buildings were in good condition and decently furnished. In 1726 the plate consisted of two flagons and two chalices, there being no paten. It was stated in 1702 that the incumbent celebrated the Lord's Supper four times a year. Part of the income was £6 a year given by Daniel Rawlinson for reading prayers on Monday (market day). No collections were made except when briefs were read. In a terrier of the vicarage lands compiled about 1736 it is stated that 'land here is computed by ploughing or mowing days and not measured'; the estate was held of the Duke of Montagu by 4s. 8d. rent, with a small addition for greenhews, &c. About the same time a person taught writing and accounts in the church for about four weeks in the year 'without its being esteemed a profanation.' Quakers were the only Nonconformists mentioned. (fn. 64)
The grammar school was founded by Archbishop Sandys in 1585. (fn. 65) There is a library attached, founded by Daniel Rawlinson in 1669. (fn. 66) The school has recently been closed; the endowments are to be spent in Sandys scholarships and exhibitions tenable at a secondary school, university, &c.
Official inquiries were made into the charities of the parish in 1820 and 1900; the report of the latter, including a reprint of the older one, was issued in 1901, and from it the following details have been drawn. There was also an inquiry in 1862. The principal charity is that of the grammar school; the school at Sawrey and the Baptist chapel at Hawkshead Hill also have endowments. For the poor there are sums of over £20 distributed in money or kind, and £59 is received from various township and other properties applicable to public or charitable uses in various ways.
The gift of the Rev. Thomas Sandys made to the school in 1717 was partly for boarding and lodging poor children who were pupils there. The trustees bought a house at Gallowbarrow in 1730 with the intention, it would appear, of carrying out his design. (fn. 67) This is probably 'the Hospital' mentioned in the churchwardens' presentments in 1738.
For the poor of the parish the Rev. William Wilson (1819) gave £150; the interest was to be given to industrious persons most regular in their attendance at church. The income is given in sums of 2s. to 5s.—for Hawkshead £3 19s. 3d., and for Brathay 8s. 9d. The town hall yields £9 3s. a year, out of which a lord's rent of 6d. is paid, and the rest is given to repairing a road or other public use.
George Rigg, the parish clerk, in 1706 left £126 for the poor of Hawkshead bailiwick, the interest to be given to the poor on 2 February annually. Other benefactions were added, making a total of £202 10s., and all were administered together as the Various Charities or Easter Tuesday Charity. The capital, reduced by expenses to £123 16s. 7d., is now invested in consols, and the interest is spent under a scheme made by the Charity Commissioners in 1897; the vicar of Hawkshead receives 12s. 9d., and £2 15s. 3d is applied to the general benefit of the poor in medical relief, coals and other ways. Under an inclosure award of 1862 land was awarded for allotments for the labouring poor; it was unsuitably placed for the purpose, and is let for 18s. a year, the income being allowed to accumulate, so that 31s. is now available.
Miles Sawrey in 1713 left £50 for a distribution to the poor of Monk Coniston with Skelwith on Christmas Eve; the money was spent on a small estate at Oxenfell. It is subject to a quit-rent of is. to the lord of the manor. The rent is £12 10s;. a year, but has for some years been applied to repairs and to repaying £100 taken from the capital of the Various Charities for maintenance. The abovementioned scheme of 1897 governs the application. John Jackson's charity, founded in 1798 for a halfyearly gift to poor widows and others, now yields 27s. 4d., and is applied under the 1897 scheme to the general benefit of the poor. The Rev. George Park in 1829 left £100 for a bread distribution on the first Sunday of each month to poor persons, preference being given to those who 'regularly attended divine service according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England and who otherwise in their pious lives and conversation did honour unto that Church.' The income, £3 5s. 4d. a year, is expended on bread given on the second Sunday of each month at the parish church. The recipients are chosen from Hawkshead proper, Monk Coniston, Claife and Satterthwaite.
Mackreth's charity is £1 a year, derived from Ingfield in Clappersgate, half of which is given to a poor person in Brathay (or Skelwith) parish; the other half goes to Loughrigg in Westmorland. Jeffrey Francis Prendergast in 1879 left a sum producing £12 7s. 4d. a year, which is expended in various ways for the benefit of the poor. The testator desired that his burial-place should be kept in order, and this is done, though the provision was void in law.
For the poor of Claife James Braithwaite in 1694 left £20, and Leonard Cowperthwaite in 1715 left another £20, of which £10 is supposed to have been included in the general Hawkshead charity. The remaining £30 is now invested in consols and produces 17s. 4d. a year, administered under the scheme of 1897. In 1799 allotments of a wateringplace on Esthwaite Water and of landing-places on Windermere were made. The former (partly inclosed) yields 20s. a year, paid to the parish council. John Christian Curwen in 1799 owed the proprietors and landowners in Claife £663 6s. 8d. for lands called the Heald, &c.; interest is still paid at 4½ per cent., and passes into the overseers' general account.
For Satterthwaite James Taylor left £30, but about 1800 part was lost by bankruptcy, and the rest was distributed to the poor, and so the charity came to an end.