A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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DUNNERDALE WITH SEATHWAITE
Dunerdale, 1293; Donerdale, 1300.
There is no established boundary between the two parts of this township, Dunnerdale being the southern and Seathwaite the northern end of it. (fn. 1) It contains 10,257½ acres of bare mountainous country (fn. 2) on the eastern side of the Duddon, there being only one or two woody patches in the valley, and the various peaks rising from 1,200 ft. in the south to over 2,500 ft. in the north. Seathwaite Tarn is 1,210 ft. above the sea; it discharges by Tarn Beck into the Duddon. There are cairns and other ancient remains. The modern inhabitants are accommodated in a few small hamlets and lonely farm-houses along the valley. The chapel of Seathwaite, about the centre of the western edge, stands almost by itself, with Newfield to the south. The population in 1901 was 263.
The principal road enters the township at the south near Duddon Bridge, and proceeds up the river valley. It crosses over into Cumberland at Ulpha but returns to the Lancashire side near Hall Dunnerdale and goes on to the chapel. From this point minor roads go over the mountains to Coniston on the east and Broughton on the south, the latter by Stainton Ground, Hesketh Hall and Broughton Mills on the Lickle.
Seathwaite is noteworthy as the home of 'Wonderful Walker,' once the curate of the chapel and master of the school. Robert Walker was born at Undercragg, about a mile north of the chapel, in 1709, the youngest of twelve children. Being of a delicate constitution it was decided 'to breed him a scholar,' and he became a teacher and then a clergyman. He took the curacy of his native place, the stipend being then £5 a year, (fn. 3) married and brought up his family. He taught school in the chapel, occupying himself at the same time with the spinning wheel, acted as legal adviser and scrivener for the district around, tilled his garden and attended to his sheep and his few acres of land. He died 25 June 1802, having been curate of Seathwaite for sixty-six years.
There was formerly a plumbago mine near Seathwaite. The land is mostly used for pasture.
DUNNERDALE was included in that part of the Fells chosen by William de Lancaster I on the partition made about 1160, (fn. 4) and was by him given to Roger de Kirkby, a gift confirmed by his son William II to Roger's son William; a rent of 4s. a year was to be paid. (fn. 5) The manor is mentioned in connexion with Kirkby Ireleth in family deeds (fn. 6) and seems usually to have been regarded as a hamlet of Kirkby, (fn. 7) but it was sold in 1497 by Henry Kirkby. (fn. 8) Soon afterwards it was held by the Earl of Derby, (fn. 9) but was in 1610 sold to the Heskeths. (fn. 10) In more recent times the manor has been held with Duddon Hall in Cumberland, (fn. 11) the present lord, by purchase about 1903, being Mr. George Herbert Cheetham of Manchester.
A court baron may be held for the manor, (fn. 12) but the land is mostly held by resident freeholders. The place is rarely mentioned in the records. (fn. 13) An award concerning the sheepgates in Seathwaite was made in 1681. (fn. 14)
A 'manor of Cockley Beck' in Kirkby Ireleth is named in a fine of 1791, John Bracken being in possession. (fn. 15)
The chapel at SEATHWAITE was said by tradition to have been built by an Earl of Derby, (fn. 16) and the lord of the manor has always nominated the curate or vicar, though the chapel was supposed to be subordinate to Broughton. In 1650 there was no endowment, but the inhabitants contributed to employ a reader. (fn. 17) About 1717 this contribution amounted to £3 18s. 9d., to which the lord of the manor (Mr. Penny) added £2 by custom; the curate there read prayers and a homily every Sunday and the curate of Broughton administered the sacrament thrice a year. The curate also taught a school, but there was no endowment. (fn. 18)
It was reported to Bishop Gastrell in 1724 that Seathwaite had thrown off the jurisdiction of Richmond about 1675. The vicar of Kirkby Ireleth had always insisted that it was within his peculiar jurisdiction and commonly proved wills and granted licences there, 'but the inhabitants being poor, the jurisdiction is not thought worth disputing.' (fn. 19) The chapelwardens of Broughton in 1729 gave a somewhat different account, stating that the inhabitants of Seathwaite had separated themselves when it tended for their advantage, but when Mr. Muncaster (lately vicar of Kirkby) had demanded, as they thought, too high fees from them, they returned to the Broughton jurisdiction. The vicar afterwards made peace with them and then they once more denied all rights there to the curate and officers of Broughton.
The net value is now stated to be £140 a year. The present church of the Holy Trinity was built in 1874 on the old site (fn. 20); a separate parish was formed for it in 1886. The following have been incumbents (fn. 21) :—
|1735||Robert Walker (fn. 22)|
|1854||Robert Rolleston, B.A. (fn. 23) (Univ. Coll., Oxf.)|
|1857||Thomas Anderson, B.A.|
|1860||Richard Walker, M.A. (New Coll., Oxf.)|
|1875||Sydney Richard Maynard Walker, B.A. (Christ Church, Oxf.)|
|1904||Reginald Jeffcott Dickson, B.A. (Queens' Coll., Camb.)|
|1905||James Beardwood Ditchfield, M.A. (Dur.)|
Holy Innocents', a chapel of ease to Broughton, is in Dunnerdale, near Broughton Mills. It was built in 1887.
The Society of Friends has a burial-ground at Low Kiln Bank near Ulpha Bridge, but it has long been disused. (fn. 24)