Parishes: Bassenthwaite - Beaumont

Magna Britannia: Volume 4, Cumberland. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1816.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Parishes: Bassenthwaite - Beaumont', in Magna Britannia: Volume 4, Cumberland, (London, 1816) pp. 18-22. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


BASSENTHWAITE, in the ward of Allerdale below Derwent, lies by the side of the lake of that name, about four miles from Keswick, and about nine from Cockermouth.

The manor of Bassenthwaite was given by Alan, the second Lord of Allerdale, to his bastard brother Gospatric, whose posterity took the name of De Bassenthwaite. The last heir male of this family, was Sir Adam de Bassenthwaite, who died in the reign of Edward II. and left two daughters, co-heiresses, the elder having married two husbands, Irton and Lawson, settled her moiety of the manor upon her second husband, in whose posterity it continued till the death of the late Sir Wilfred Lawson. It is now under his will the property of Wilfred, the fifth son of Thomas Wybergh, Esq. a minor, who has taken the name of Lawson. This estate, called the manor of Low Bassenthwaite, is situated at Hawes. There was formerly a capital mansion here and a park, the seat probably of the Bassenthwaites. The other co-heiress married Martindale, whose descendant having been attainted of treason, it was granted to the Earl of Derby. In 1714 this estate, called the manor of High Bassenthwaite, passed in marriage with Lady Henrietta Stanley to John Lord Ashburnham, who the next year sold it in parcels to the several tenants. The whole is held under the Earl of Egremont, who as Lord Paramount, is proprietor of the fine lake called Bassenthwaite Water, has the sole right of navigation and the whole fishery, except three draughts, called Ewes Bridge, Stone Wall, and Elers Stile, where John Spedding, Esq. has a right of fishery, as adjudged at the assizes at Carlisle in 1772. This lake is said to be about four miles and a half in length, and at the broadest part a mile and a half in breadth. Armathwaite, at the head of the lake, was a seat of the Highmores, of whom it was purchased by the great-grandfather of John Spedding, Esq. It is now the seat of Sir Frederick Fletcher Vane, Baronet, who purchased it in 1796, after the death of the late James Spedding, Esq.

Mire-house, now the seat of John Spedding, Esq., became his property in 1802, by the devise of Thomas Story, Esq., whose father acquired it by marriage with the heiress of Gregg. This place was formerly the demesne of the manor of High Bassenthwaite, and was purchased of the Earl of Derby by Roger Gregg, grandfather of Joseph Gregg, who possessed it in 1688 (fn. n1). Mr. Spedding has made extensive plantations in the neighbourhood of Mire House, extending over great part of the adjoining mountains.

In the parish church is an ancient grave-stone of the Highmore family, and memorial for Joseph Ware, aged 90, 1788, whose first wife was a daughter of Charles Highmore, Esq. of Armathwaite. In the church-yard are memorials of the families of Story and Spedding.

The church of Bassenthwaite, which lies in the diocese of Carlisle and deanery of Wigton, was given to the Abbey of Jedworth by Waldeof, son of Gospatric, and appropriated to that monastery. The dean and chapter of Carlisle are now appropriators, and patrons of the perpetual curacy. There is a chapel of ease at Hawes, in this parish.


BEAUMONT, in Cumberland Ward, lies about four miles from Carlisle. The manor was anciently in the Bruns, Lords of Bowness, who were patrons also of the church: before the year 1380 it became the property of the Dacres, and has ever since been annexed to the Barony of Burgh, now belonging to the Earl of Lonsdale. The church, which, since the year 1692, has been held jointly with Kirk-Andrews upon Eden, is in the diocese and deanery of Carlisle. This small rectory was augmented by Queen Ann's bounty in 1772, aided by a benefaction of 200l. from the Countess Dowager Gower. This parish has a share of the interest of 50l. bequeathed by Mr. Thomas Pattinson, in 1785, for the purpose of educating the children of the poor of Beaumont, Kirk-Andrews, and Grinsdale.

The extensive parish of St. Bees, in the ward of Allerdale above Derwent, contains the townships of St. Bees, Ennerdale, Ennerdale High-end, Eskdale, and Wasdale, Hensingham, Kinneyside, Lowside Quarter, Nether Wasdale, Preston Quarter, Rottington, Sandwith, Wheddicar, and Whitehaven.

The parish takes its name from Bega, an Irish Saint, who is said to have founded a small monastery here about the year 650. This monastery having been destroyed by the Danes, was restored by William Meschines, Lord of Egremont, in the reign of Henry I. for a prior and six Benedictine monks, as a cell to St. Mary's Abbey at York. Its possessions were valued at the dissolution at 143l. 17s. 2d. clear yearly income. King Edward VI. in 1553, granted the monastery of St. Bees, with the manor and rectory, and other estates, to Sir Thomas Chaloner, subject to a fee farm rent to the crown of that amount. In 1557 the sum of 100l. per annum of this rent was granted to the see of Chester. The Wybergh family succeeded Sir Thomas Chaloner in the possession of this estate. In 1663 it became the property of Sir John Lowther, ancestor of the Earl of Lonsdale, who is the present proprietor.

The parish church of St. Bees, which is four miles from Whitehaven, was the conventual church; on the south side are considerable remains of the monastic buildings. On the site of the south aisle of the choir are two mutilated effigies of knights in armour, and in the belfry memorials of the family of Patrickson, and of the Rev. Richard Jackson, 52 years schoolmaster of St. Bees.

The benefice is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Earl of Lonsdale, who is the impropriator. The parish is in the diocese of Chester, archdeaconry of Richmond, and deanery of Copeland.

The grammar school at St. Bees was founded by Archbishop Grindall, who was a native of Hensingham in this parish, and died in 1583. The archbishop gave a sum of money for the building, and directed lands and other revenues of the yearly value of 50l. to be purchased, assigning the sum of 20l. per annum, as a salary for the master, and five marks for the usher. The founder's statutes were confirmed after his death, and the governors incorporated 27 Eliz. The purchases were not completed till the year 1604, when the governors bought of the crown certain lands, rents, &c. late parcel of the possessions of the monastery of St. Bees, and afterwards of Sir Thomas Chaloner, then of the yearly value of 28l. 8s. 6d. The present revenue of the school is 112l. 10s. (which will be increased probably 20s. per annum by an allotment of common) exclusive of a very good house and garden for the master, and about four or five acres of land.

Sir John Lowther, who died in 1705, gave 5l. per annum to the school, and a valuable library, to which Sir Joseph Williamson made considerable additions. The governors of this school, seven in number, of whom the provost of Queen's College in Oxford, and the rector of Egremont, are always two, are a body corporate, with a power of making statutes. There are foundations connected with the school of St. Bees at Queen's College in Oxford, Pembroke Hall, and Magdalen College in Cambridge.

Ennerdale is by some esteemed a separate parish or parochial chapelry, but was returned under the population act as a township of St. Bees, from which the chapel is about six miles distant. The manor, or rather a portion of it, was given by Ranulph, son of William de Meschines to the priory of St. Bees, the remainder passed in the division of the barony of Egremont to the Harringtons, and having passed by successive female heirs to the Bonvilles and Greys escheated to the crown by the attainder of the Marquis of Dorset. The whole is now vested in the Earl of Lonsdale, as lessee under the Crown. Castle-how, an ancient mansion on the side of the small lake called Ennerdale Water, was a seat of the Patricksons; it now belongs to the daughter of the late Mr. Senhouse, of Calder Abbey. The manor of Castle-how, which was sold in the seventeenth century by the Patricksons, is now the property of Henry Birley, Esq., of Whitehaven.

The chapel at Ennerdale is subject to the mother-church of St. Bees. There is a sheep-fair at Ennerdale on the second Tuesday in September.

Eskdale and Wasdale form an united township. The manors of Eskdale and Mitredale belong to the Earl of Egremont, as parcel of his barony of Egremont. The manors of Awsthwaite and Birker (fn. n2) belonged anciently to the Awsthwaites, by the grant of Arthur Boyvill, Lord of Millom, in or about the reign of Henry II. The heiress of Awsthwaite, in the reign of Edward III. brought this estate to Nicholas Stanley, descended from a younger branch of the Stanleys of Staffordshire and Cheshire, and the immediate ancestor of Edward Stanley, Esq. the present proprietor.

Dalegarth, the ancient seat of the Stanleys, about half a mile from Eskdale chapel, was in part pulled down by Mr. Stanley's grandfather. Eskdale chapel is eighteen miles from the mother-church. The great tithes of Eskdale, Mitredale, Wasdale, and Nether-Wasdale, belong to Mr. Stanley. There is a sheep-fair at Nether-Wasdale the first Monday in September. The manor of Wasdale is parcel of the barony of Egremont. The manor of Nether-Wasdale belongs also to the Earl of Egremont.

There are chapels at Wasdale-head and Nether-Wasdale. The former was augmented by Queen Anne's bounty by lot in 1719. Wasdale-head is at the head of an extensive lake, called Wastwater. Nether-Wasdale chapel is 10 miles, that at Wasdale-head 14 miles, distant from the mother-church.

Hensingham lies about a mile from Whitehaven. The Branthwaites held a moiety of the manor in the reign of Edward I. It passed from this family to the Whitrigs, one of whose coheiresses brought it in marriage to the Skeltons of Branthwaite: from the Skeltons it passed by sale to the Salkelds of Brayton, whose coheiresses sold to Sir Wilfred Lawson before the year 1688 (fn. n3). About the year 1748, this estate became the property of Anthony Benn, Esq. There was a dispute concerning the manor between the Lowther family and the Benns, which was determined by the late Earl of Lonsdale's purchasing Mr. Benn's right. It is now the property of the present Earl.

The chapel at Hensingham was built about the year 1790, by the contributions of Mr. Benn and other inhabitants. It was purchased of the executors of the late Mr. Benn by the present Earl of Lonsdale, and endowed by his Lordship with a stipend of 100l. per annum. Archbishop Grindall was born at Hensingham, in the year 1519.

Rotington belonged anciently to a family who took their name from the manor. It passed from them by marriage to Sandes (fn. n4); and from the latter in like manner to the Curwens. Henry Curwen, Esq. devised it to Henry Pelham, Esq. of whom it was purchased in 1762 by Sir James Lowther, afterwards Earl of Lonsdale. It is now the property of the present Earl. The manor of Wheddicar, which belonged some time to the Ponsonbys, is now also the property of the Earl of Lonsdale.


  • n1. T. Denton's MS.
  • n2. In Eskdale, but in the parish of Millom.
  • n3. T. Denton's MS.
  • n4. Descended, says Mr. T. Denton, from the ancient family of Sandes of Burgh. The daughter and heiress of Henry Sandes married a younger brother of the Curwens. MS.