WIGTON, Cumberland - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"WIGTON, a parish and market town in the ward of Allerdale-below-Derwent, county Cumberland, 10 miles S.W. of Carlisle, and 305 N.W. of London. It is a station on the Maryport and Carlisle railway. This place was a manor or barony before the Norman Conquest, when it was given by William de Meschines to Waltheof, Lord of Allerdale, and by him to Odoard, surnamed De Wigton. It was burnt by the Scots in 1322, when they plundered the abbey of Holme-Cultram, and during the civil war was occupied by the van of the Duke of Hamilton's army in 1648.

The manor or barony now belongs to Lord Leconfield, who holds a court leet and baron annually in September, at which constables are appointed, but the government of the town is vested in the county magistrates, who hold petty sessions fortnightly on Tuesday. It is likewise a polling place for the county elections, and the seat of a New County Court, superintendent registry, and Poorlaw Union, embracing 31 parishes or places. The parish, measuring more than 5 miles in length by 3 in breadth, contains, besides the town of Wigton, the townships of Oulton, Waverton and Woodside, and the hamlets of Akehead, Waterside, Lesson-hall, Wood-row, Howrigg, and East and West Woodside.

The population in 1861 of the parish was 6,023, and of the town 4,011. The town consists principally of one spacious street, crossed by a narrower one at the lower end. It is pitched with pebbles, and contains some good houses. The principal public institutions are the mechanics' institute, recently erected, containing a library and news rooms; gas works, erected in 1831; 3 branch banks, union poorhouse, clerical library, attached to the church, and townhall. At a short distance from the town pass the rivers Waver and Wampool, upon which are several corn-mills. The principal articles manufactured are checks, ginghams, muslins, and other cotton goods, also print and dye works, tanneries, breweries, nail-making, and the timber trade.

Coal is obtained about 3 miles from the town, and there are traces of copper and other metals within 5 miles. The land is generally level, and lies low, but is dry and fertile. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Carlisle, value £300, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is said to have been originally erected by Odoard, shortly after the Conquest, with materials brought from a neighbouring Roman station, Olenacum, or Old Carlisle, and subsequently belonged to the abbey of Holme-Cultram, but was taken down in 1788, and the present edifice erected on its site. A stained-glass window, the gift of William Banks, Esq., of Highmoor House, has lately been put in the E. end of the parish church.

Christ Church, capable of accommodating 150 persons, was built in 1865 at Waverton, as a chapel-of-ease to the mother church. It contains two stained-glass windows. The E. window has in the centre a figure of our Saviour on the cross; the two side figures are St. Peter and St. Paul. The W. window is circular, containing 7 circular lights, one being in the centre, containing 7 symbols of Christ - the lily, the rose, the lion, the apple or citron, the eagle, vine, and the "morning star" in the centre.

There are chapels for Wesleyans, Independents, United Presbyterians, and Society of Friends, and a Gothic chapel, designed by Bonomi, belonging to the Roman Catholics. The free grammar school at Market-hill, near the entrance of the town, was founded in 1730, and has an income from endowment of about £70 per annum. There are also National, British, and denominational Sunday schools, and a school at Brookfield House belonging to the Society of Friends.

Ewan Clarke, the Cumberland poet; R. Smirke, R.A., the historical painter; George Barnes, the mathematician; Joseph Rooke, the self-taught weaver; and John Rooke, the writer on political economy and geology, were born here. Market day is on Tuesday. Fairs are held on the 20th February for horses and cattle, 5th April for cattle and merchandise, St. Thomas's Day for meat, apples, and honey, and statute fairs on the Tuesdays after Whit Sunday and Martinmas for hiring servants."

"KIRKTHWAITE, a hamlet in the parish of Wigton, ward and county of Cumberland, 8 miles S.W. of Carlisle. It is situated on a branch of the river Wampool, near the line of the Maryport and Carlisle railway."

"LONG NEWTON, a hamlet in the parish of Wigton, ward and county of Cumberland, 5 miles S.W. of Carlisle. It is situated near a branch of the river Wampool."

"OULTON, a township in the parish of Wigton, ward and county of Cumberland, 2 miles N.W. of Wigton, and 11 S.W. of Carlisle. The village, which is considerable, is situated near a branch of the river Wampool. The inhabitants are partly engaged in the neighbouring cotton-mills and dye-works. The great tithes were commuted for land and a money payment under an Enclosure Act, in 1823. There is a place of worship for Baptists. A workhouse was erected here in 1828."

"WAVERTON, a township in the parish of Wigton, ward and county of Cumberland, 2 miles S.W. of Wigton. It is situated on the river Waver, which separates the township into High and Low Waverton. The Maryport railway passes in the vicinity."

"WOODSIDE QUARTER, a township in the parish of Wigton, county Cumberland, 3 miles N.E. of Wigton."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]


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