COCKERMOUTH, Cumberland - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"COCKERMOUTH, a parliamentary borough, market town, and chapelry, in the parish of Brigham, in the ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, in the county of Cumberland, 8 miles E. of Workington, and 15½ N.W. of Whitehaven. It has a station on the Cockermouth and Workington branch of the North-Western railway. A new line is in course of construction from Cockermouth, through the vale of the Derwent, to join the Lancaster and Carlisle line near Penrith. It was a place of great antiquity, as proved by a stone font recently dug up in the neighbourhood of the town, which bears an inscription in mingled Saxon and Runic; implying that "here Ekard was converted to Christianity, and to this man's example were the Danes brought". Shortly after the Conquest, a strong castle was built on a precipitous eminence to the N. of the town, the walls of which are about 600 yards in circumference, and of great thickness. The honour was at that time held by Waltheof, Lord of Allerdale, son of the Earl of Northumberland, and subsequently came into the possession of Piers Gavestone. Between the reigns of Edward I. and Charles I. the borough returned no representatives to parliament. The castle and town were held during the civil war of the 17th century for the parliament, and in August, 1648, were besieged by 500 Cumberland royalists, but Lieut. Colonel Ashton, under the command of Cromwell, soon relieved it. The town, which, from its situation at the continence of the rivers Cocker and Derwent, has always enjoyed a considerable trade, especially in woollen cloths, hats, stockings, and such like manufactures, is well built. It principally consists of two streets, with several cross streets, which are well lighted with gas, but badly paved, except the High-street. The houses are of stone, with slate roofs, and there is a fine promenade of a mile in length along the N. bank of the river Derwent, bounded at the one end by wooded cliffs, and at the other by the ruins of the old castle. The rivers Derwent and Cocker are crossed by several stone bridges. The town, which has recently been much improved, contains a market-house, court-house, literary institution, Agricultural Society, and Union workhouse. It is a parliamentary borough, returning two members, but not a municipal, being under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold petty sessions here every Monday. The parliamentary borough comprises, according to the census of 1861, 1,546 houses, inhabited by a population of 7,056, against 7,275 in 1851, showing a decrease of 219 in the decennial period. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Carlisle, vale £120, in the patronage of the Earl of Lonsdale. The church, dedicated to All Saints, was burnt down in 1850, but a handsome new church was erected on the same site in 1854. The foundation-stone of another church, situated in the lower part of the town, and dedicated to Christ, was laid in 1863. It will contain 1,000 sittings, the body of the church being free for the poor, but the galleries are to be let to help to pay the clergyman, who will receive the interest of £1,700, generously presented by two friends of the Bishop of Carlisle, as an endowment fund. The funds for the building were chiefly raised through the exertions of the Rev. H. B. L. Puxley, curate to the incumbent of All Saints. The register is of early date. The Wesleyans, Independents, Primitive Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics have chapels. There is a free grammar school, founded in 1676, besides National and infant schools. Wordsworth, the poet was a native of this town. The barony, now called the honour of Cockermouth, belongs to the Wyndham family, and gives the title of baron to the earls of Egremont. Lord Leconfield is lord of the manor, and owner of the site of the castle and chief part of the soil. In the town is the Old Hall, the seat of the Fletchers, where Mary Queen of Scots was hospitably entertained after her escape from Dunbar Castle. Market day is on Monday. Statute fairs are held on Whit-Monday and Martinmas Monday for the hiring of servants, and cattle fairs on every other Wednesday from May to September, and on the 10th October."

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