A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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COLTON (fn. 1)
Coleton, 1202. Coulton was the usual spelling until about 1850. Colton, Finsthwaite, Haverthwaite, Rolesland (Rusland), Bouth and Neburthwayt (Nibthwaite), 1336.
This parish occupies the lower part of Furness Fells, lying between the southern ends of Windermere and Coniston Water, and their outlets the Leven and Crake. The scenery is fine, diversified with hills and valleys and richly wooded, especially along the Leven. The hills are divided into two main clusters by the Rusland Beck, which flows south to join the Leven near Haverthwaite; the western side has the highest point, over 1,000 ft. above the sea, Green Hows and Yewbarrow on the east attaining 745 ft. and 795 ft. respectively. The area of the whole is 14,322 acres, (fn. 2) including 70 of tidal water in the Leven estuary. There was a population of 1,648 in 1901.
There are seven customary divisions or hamlets— Colton East, Colton West, Nibthwaite, Bethecar Moor, Rusland, Finsthwaite and Haverthwaite. (fn. 3) The two Coltons form the south-west part of the parish, with the Colton Beck flowing south between them. The parish church is about the centre, near the left-hand bank of the stream. Colton East has 2,938½ acres and Colton West 1,709. There are various hamlets: Bouth to the east, which is the chief one, Tottlebank to the south, Oxen Park and Abbot Park to the north. In the north-east is Whitestock Hall, the residence of the painter Romney's descendants till a few years ago. Nibthwaite extends north along the Crake and Coniston Lake; it has many small detached parts, with a total area of 2,551 acres. The village of High Nibthwaite stands at the foot of Coniston Lake, Low Nibthwaite about a mile to the south, with Arklid between the two. The common land of Bethecar Moor, 1,392 acres, occupies the higher ground to the north of Colton proper; Ickenthwaite stands on the border between them. Rusland, 2,218½ acres, occupies the comparatively level ground on the eastern side of Rusland Beck, with hills on the east and north. The village of Rusland is central, and has Crosslands and Thwaite Head to the north; it is a favourite resort of anglers. Finsthwaite lies to the east of Rusland, and extends to Windermere and the Leven. It is very well wooded, and has an area of 2,257½ acres. The village of Finsthwaite lies in a valley about a mile west of Windermere, and has Stott Park to the north-east. Newby Bridge, on the Leven, about a mile from the foot of the lake, is better known, because roads go out from it in various directions through Furness and Cartmel. Haverthwaite, 1,255½ acres, lies to the south, between the Leven and Rusland Beck, and a large part of its surface is open, level country; the north-east part, however, is a tree-clad hill, rising to 600 ft. above the level of the sea. The village of Haverthwaite lies near the Leven, at the southern end of the hill; Abbots Reading stands at the foot of the hill's western slope.
The roads naturally follow the valleys. (fn. 4) One leads east from Ulverston, through Haverthwaite, and then along the Leven to Newby Bridge and Windermere, and so north beside the lake. There are two other bridges over the Leven—at Low Wood, near Haverthwaite, and at Backbarrow. Another nearly parallel road, to the north-west, passes through Finsthwaite, and from it a road branches off north to Rusland. The road from Ulverston has another branch crossing the Crake at Penny Bridge; it divides, one part going north-east to Bouth, and another north to Colton and Hawkshead. From Penny Bridge also a road goes north beside the Crake, through Nibthwaite to Coniston Water. The Crake may be crossed at Spark Bridge, Lowick and Arklid. The single-line branch of the Furness railway from Ulverston to Windermere runs along the bank of the Leven, with stations at Haverthwaite and Newby Bridge and a terminus at Lake Side (fn. 5); from this point the railway company's steamers convey passengers up the lake to Bowness and Ambleside.
The parish is of recent origin, having remained as a chapelry of Hawkshead until 1676. It is governed by a parish council of nine members. Its history is of interest as connected with the local iron industry, which has now almost ceased (fn. 6); Backbarrow forge in Haverthwaite, founded in 1710, still continues to be used. (fn. 7) There are some minor trades, as the making of bobbins, hoops and gunpowder. (fn. 8) The furnace at Nibthwaite worked from 1736 to 1850; it was then turned into a bobbin-mill, but, ceasing to be profitable, has been allowed to decay. (fn. 9) The agricultural land is occupied chiefly by pasture and woodland, as will be seen by the following figures (fn. 10) :—
|Arable land ac.||Permanent grass ac.||Woods and plantations ac.|
The soil is loamy, and oats are grown.
There is a puzzling entry in the Finsthwaite register, recording the burial of Clementina Johannes Sobiesky Douglass of Waterside, spinster, on 16 May 1771. She was known locally as 'the Princess,' and as she was named after the Old Pretender's wife, Maria Clementina Sobieski, it was supposed she had some connexion with the exiled royal family. (fn. 13)
Below Colton Church is an ancient well of dressed freestone. (fn. 14)
On the hill at Finsthwaite is a tower erected to commemorate naval victories. (fn. 15) In the village is the Jubilee Institute, given in 1888.
Sir Isaac Pennington, M.D., Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge, was born at Longmire in 1745 and educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, of which he was elected Fellow; M.A. 1770. He died in 1817, leaving his fortune to the college; part was to be used to found exhibitions, to be given by preference to natives of Hawkshead and Colton. (fn. 16)
There was never, properly speaking, any manor of COLTON, which was a part of the manor of Hawkshead, but the several bailiwicks into which the monks of Furness divided the Fells were often called manors. (fn. 17) After the suppression of the abbey several surveys were made showing the value of the different parts of the estate. In 1537 the rents of Colton were £7 8s. 3d.; Nibthwaite Town, 75s. 7d.; 'Bethacre,' 60s. 10d.; Parkamoor, 32s. 7d.; Nibthwaite Grange, Bridgefield and Hellpark, £6 2s. 7d.; Sales, Crake and Tottlebank, 58s. 10d.; also Oxen Park, Banrigghead, Abbot Park, 'Icornthwaite,' &c. The monks had also divided their pasture lands into various herdwicks and sheepcotes, including Brotherilketh, worth £10 a year; Watside or Waterside Park, 46s. 8d.; and Parkamoor the same. (fn. 18)
In 1613 James I granted to William and George Whitmore the manor or bailiwick of Nibthwaite, with lands; the manor or bailiwick of Colton, with mansion-house and demesne land; lands in Sales, Crake, Bouth, Haybridge, Kirkthwaite, Oxenpark, Banrigghead, Abbot Park and Ickenthwaite; all perquisites of the court and manor of Colton, except 56s. 8d. bloomsmithy rent payable to the bailiff of Hawkshead; the manor and fishery of Haverthwaite, and lands in Finsthwaite, Stott Park and Rusland. (fn. 19) The Whitmores at once proceeded to sell in parcels, (fn. 20) and so Colton has come into the hands of a large number of proprietors.
Colton Hall, or the Old Hall at Bouth, at one time held by a branch of the Sandys family, (fn. 21) is a totally uninteresting three-story structure, now modernized and used as cottages. (fn. 22) Rusland Hall belonged to the Rawlinsons of Graythwaite. (fn. 23) It is a plain stone building, three stories in height, of late 17th or early 18th-century date, with tall sash windows and a central doorway. In modern times two wings have been added, one on either side of the original house, and the road, which formerly was in front, now runs behind it. (fn. 24) Greenhead, near Colton Church, is supposed to have been the original seat of the Rawlinsons; they have been noticed at Cark Hall in Cartmel. (fn. 25) Tottlebank also belonged to Rawlinsons. (fn. 26) At Abbot Reading a Walker family is named in 1597. (fn. 27) In Nibthwaite the ancient family was Redhead. (fn. 28) At Waterside Park is the residence of Mr. Arthur Paul Brydson, whose account of Nibthwaite and Blawith is quoted in the notes. (fn. 29) The Machells of Newby Bridge were a branch of a family seated at Hollow Oak in Colton, now of Penny Bridge in Egton. (fn. 30)
The church of the HOLY TRINITY stands on the hillside above the village on the east and is a plain rough-cast building, in plan a rectangle 72 ft. long by 23 ft. 3 in. wide internally, with north transept 18 ft. by 16 ft. 9 in., south porch, and west tower with vestry on the north side. The building may have been erected about 1530 on the site of an older building, (fn. 31) while the tower may have been added at the beginning of the 17th century, (fn. 32) but is of the same plain character as the rest of the building, having nothing in its appearance suggesting a later date. There were repairs in 1710–12; in 1721 the north transept was built, not without much opposition, (fn. 33) and in 1762 the vestry was added to the north of the tower. In 1840 the church was reseated, and in 1890 a thorough restoration took place, when the floor was levelled, a west gallery removed, the north wall of the transept rebuilt and a new window inserted in its east wall, the tower arch and gallery stairs in the tower built up and removed, and a new door made in the tower on the south side. The roof was renewed, but all the old windows were left in their original positions except one of the upper windows to the gallery on the south side which was built up, but in some cases stone was substituted for wood and new traceried windows inserted in the chancel and transept. A portion of the north wall of the chancel next to the transept, 8 ft. in length, was at the same time taken down and rebuilt 2 ft. northwards to allow of more space for the organ.
The walls are of rubble covered with rough-cast outside and plastered within, the south wall battering considerably inside, and the roofs, which have overhanging eaves, are covered with modern blue slates. The windows are all square-headed without hood moulds and of two and three lights, with rounded and trefoiled heads. The priest's doorway on the south side is now built up, and there is a door on the north side at the west end of the nave. The chancel is 19 ft. in length, occupying the whole of the space east of the transept, but with the exception of the turned oak Jacobean altar rails and an oak chair all the fittings are modern. The new east window is square-headed and of four trefoiled lights with tracery over, and there is an original single-light trefoiled window on the north side and a two-light restored window of similar type on the south side. The nave has four windows on the south side, the westernmost one placed high up; and on the north are four windows with segmental-headed lights, two above the others, the westernmost upper window having been originally to light the gallery. The transept has a three-light window in each of its three walls, those on the north and east being modern. (fn. 34) The church retains its old plaster ceiling.
The tower is 15 ft. square externally and 39 ft. in height to the top of the embattled parapet on the west side. The slope of the churchyard from east to west is considerable, the fall of the ground being about 8 ft. 6 in. in the length of the building. The tower is quite plain, without a vice, and with square-headed louvred openings to the belfry stage. On the west side is a window of two round-headed lights, a small square opening to the bottom story, and on the south side a modern square-headed doorway. Originally the tower was open to the church by a small pointed arch 3 ft. 9 in. wide in the south end of the east wall, to the north of which was a staircase to the west gallery. The arch is still visible from the ringing chamber, but the west wall of the nave is now built up and plastered.
In dismantling the church in 1889 the bowl of the ancient font was discovered upside down, used as the base of an 18th-century font then in use bearing the initials of the four churchwardens of 1717–18. (fn. 35) The old font, which is octagonal in plan and of red sandstone, apparently of early 16th-century date, was rechiselled and is now restored to use.
Two oak panels, dated 1688 and 1712, from the former Old Hall pew have been preserved in the woodwork of a pew on the same site, and the rest of the oak is now in the vestry in the form of wainscot. (fn. 36) The royal arms of George III are over the vestry door.
The tower contains a single bell of great interest, probably of early 14th-century date, bearing the inscription ' + Campana Beati Johannes Appli' in Lombardic letters preceded by a cross patonce. (fn. 37)
The silver communion plate consists of a chalice and cover paten of 1571; a paten of 1851–2, given by the Rev. S. T. Clarke, vicar, inscribed 'Humbly offered on the feast of the Holy Trinity 1852 for the service of the Altar in the Parish Church of Colton, Lancashire'; and a flagon of 1907–8 given by Mrs. Christopherson. There are also a plated communion set (chalice, paten and flagon), 1879, and a pewter flagon without marks.
The registers begin in July 1623, but are defective between 1623 and 1626, and again between 1643 and 1673. They have been printed. (fn. 38)
The churchyard was extended on the west side in 1886, and in pulling down the wall part of the pedestal of a sundial dated 1764 (fn. 39) was discovered built into the masonry. The lower half of the sundial was afterwards found at the bottom of the tower and the base in a ditch near the present vicarage. The parts are now united and placed in the churchyard to the south-west of the porch. Outside the wall on the west side is a mounting block erected in 1767 and recently repaired.
Nothing is known of the origin of the chapel at Colton. It is mentioned in a complaint against the Abbot of Furness in 1530, (fn. 40) and was probably maintained by the contributions of the people. After the Reformation it was restored and made parochial, under Hawkshead, by Archbishop Sandys (fn. 41); but still there was no maintenance for a minister except what the people chose to give, an allowance which amounted to £13 6s. 4d. yearly in 1650. (fn. 42) A curate, however, was stationed there early in the 17th century. The district, as already stated, was made a distinct parish in 1676. The inhabitants having purchased the tithes nominated the minister, (fn. 43) and the patronage is still vested in the landowners. The net value of the incumbency is now given as £242. (fn. 44)
The following have been in charge:—
|oc. 1629–62||Brian Willan (fn. 45)|
|1678||Thomas Myers, B.A. (fn. 46)|
|1694||Henry Batty (fn. 47)|
|? 1697||Thomas Taylor|
|1823||Jonathan Townley (fn. 48)|
|1848||Samuel Thomas Clarke, M.A. (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
|1866||Robert Slater Hart|
|1884||Arthur Anderson Williams, M.A. (fn. 49) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
|1894||Thomas Kirkham, B.A. (fn. 50) (T.C.D.)|
|1899||Thomas Procter Hartley, M.A. (fn. 51) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
The Particular Baptist congregation at Tottlebank was founded in 1669 in a time of persecution. Independents also were received. (fn. 55) David Crossley, a Baptist minister of some note, was stationed there 1695–1713 (about). (fn. 56) A chapel was probably built after the Revolution; it is mentioned in 1717, (fn. 57) and an endowment was settled on it in 1722. (fn. 58)
The Society of Friends have had a meeting-house at Rock How or Abbot Oak since 1725. The land was purchased in 1723, and was formerly subject to 3¼d. bloomsmithy rent. (fn. 59)
Adam Sandys, of Old Hall in Booth, in 1662 left an estate at Cowridding in trust for 'a preaching schoolmaster . . . that is sound in doctrine, in life and conversation,' who was 'to teach scholars within Colton and to officiate at the parochial chapel.' In 1703 Bartholomew Pennington left £50 for a schoolmaster, but 'if the school should be taught by any minister of God's Word, living or residing at Cowridding,' the interest for the time should go to the testator's sisters or their heirs. These bequests led to disputes during the tenure of Edward Ellerton. A schoolhouse was built in 1745. (fn. 60) A school was built at Finsthwaite in 1724, the curate of the chapel being at first the master. (fn. 61)
Official inquiries were made into the charities of the parish in 1820 and 1899; the following details are taken from the report issued in 1900, containing a reprint of the older report. (fn. 62) In addition to £70 for education and £94 for ecclesiastical purposes there are existing benefactions producing £14 3s. 10d. a year for the poor, which is all given in money. To Nibthwaite belongs £6 6s. a year, the interest on money derived from the sale of common land on Bethecar Moor about 1828; it is applied towards the reduction of the highway rate.
Thomas Strickland in 1727 left £60 for the poor; the capital is now invested in consols, producing £1 15s. 8d. a year, and is divided equally among sixteen poor persons. William Penny of Penny Bridge in 1677 left £20 for the poor of Colton West; this appears to have been joined with other funds for the purchase of land, and £1 5s. 6d. is now paid yearly to the poor of Colton West in respect of it. Mrs. Ellen Robinson in 1855 left £100 for the poor of Colton, but only £28 was realized; this was invested in consols, and produces 16s. 4d. a year, given at Christmas time in sums of 2s. 6d. each.
For Finsthwaite a number of small legacies amounting to £111, with £49 given by James King, were used to purchase land called Far Meadow at Wood Broughton. Having regard to the original trusts, it was agreed that one-third of the rent should be applied to purchase English books for poor children attending the school and the rest in gifts to the poor. The rent is £6, and accordingly £4 is given to the poor. Gilfred Lewthwaite of Stott Park in 1879 left £200 for gifts to the poor at Christmas time; the interest received is £6 6s. 4d., and is distributed by the vicar and churchwardens in gifts of 3s. 6d. to 5s.
A small sum charged on Arklid in 1720 for the poor of Nibthwaite has been lost.