CUMBERLAND, England - History and Description, 1868


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"CUMBERLAND, the extreme N.W. county of England, bounded on the N. by Dumfriesshire and Roxburghshire, on the E. by Northumberland and Durham, on the S.E. by Westmoreland, Lancashire, and the estuary of the Duddon, and on the W. by the Irish Sea and the Solway Frith. Its greatest length from S.W. to N.E. is 74 miles, and its breadth 34 miles. It contains 1,565 square miles, or 1,001,273 acres, being about 215 miles in circuit. It lies between 54° 11' and 55° 12' N. lat., and between 2° 17' and 3° 37' W. long. In form it is an irregular rhomboid, with the acute angles at the N. and S. extremities. During the Roman occupation of this island, Cumberland was inhabited by the Voluntii and the Brigantes a brave and independent race, who gave very great trouble to the invaders. Ostorius Scapula, and Didius, who succeeded him, A.D. 55, defeated them several times, but they again revolted during the reign of Vespasian, under Venutius, the principal British leader after the capture of Caractacus. This revolt was quelled by Potilius Cerealis, but the country was not entirely subdued till Hadrian's expedition in A.D. 121, when he built the "Picts' Wall", to protect them and the other British tribes from the incessant forays of the Picts and Caledonians. This wall, which connected a few forts built about 40 years previously by Agricola, was rebuilt in 210 by Severus, who added a stone wall close to it, the former one being merely a mound of earth. Traces of it are seen in many places, from its commencement at Bowness, on the Solway Frith, to the point where it leaves the county near the Rose Hill station. There are also many remains of Roman camps and stations, especially at Old Carlisle, Old Penrith, Maryport, Bewcastle, Salkeld, and Lazenby; the two latter were connected by a road. On the withdrawal of the Romans, the whole country was devastated by the Scots and Picts, and during the early Saxon period by the Danes. At that time it formed part of the kingdom of Northumbria, but retained the right of having a separate ruler. In 945, Edmund I. granted it to Malcolm, King of Scotland but at the Norman Conquest it was considered as part of England, although, owing to the repeated raids of its northern neighbours; it was so poor that William I. remitted all the taxes, and the county is not rated in Domesday Book. Henry I. granted it to Ranulph de Meschines, Earl of Chester, on condition of his defending the borders; and in a conference at York (1237) Henry III. assigned lands to the value of £200 to the Scots, in satisfaction of all their claims on the county, but a large tract was still considered as debatable ground, and was subject to the alternate ravages of the Scots and English. Edward I. died at Burgh-by-Sands, while passing through the county on his way to Scotland. During the contest between the house of Stuart and the parliament, Cumberland took the royalist side, and also espoused the cause of the Pretender in 1715. In 1745, the city of Carlisle surrendered to Charles Edward, and being retaken by the Duke of Cumberland the leaders in the movement were severely punished by him. The scenery of the whole of this county is very beautiful, and affords considerable variety. The northern portion around Carlisle, is generally flat or undulating, the soil consisting principally of dry loam, suitable for the cultivation of grain and turnips; but as the S. is approached the country becomes more and more rugged and barren, and instead of corn and turnip fields, and pasture-lands surrounded by hedges, nothing is seen but short green turf, with grey rocks cropping out here and there, and where enclosure is attempted, the only fences are "stone dikes", that is, walls of loose atones, about 5 feet high. In the S.W. portion are the highest mountains, and some of the largest and most beautiful lakes and waterfalls in England. There the soil is frequently boggy, alternating with mossy gravel, covered to a large extent with heather. On the sides of the smaller hills, however, there is a fair proportion of good, dry, brown loam, very suitable for cultivation. The more elevated districts are used mostly for pasturage. The cattle are of both the long and short horned and the Galloway breeds; the sheep chiefly belong to the native class, called "Herdwicks", of a rather small size, with speckled faces and legs, and short coarse wool. Excepting a few of the rams, they are all polled. Some of the farmers in these parts have, within the last few years, turned their attention to the cultivation of the high lands, and the moors in the lowland districts, and many acres have been reclaimed, which before would grow no crops. Much of the produce is exported from Whitehaven, Workington, Port Carlisle, and Maryport. It consists chiefly of cattle, sheep, poultry, potatoes, grain, batter, and bacon. The dairy produce is not very abundant, as the dairies are all on a small scale, but it is of a very high quality, a and always fetches a good price. Many of the farms belong to the occupiers, and in some cases have been for several generations in the same families. The owners of such farms are called "Estatesmen", or sometimes by the Scotch name, "Lairds", and hold them under the lords of manors by customary tenure, subject to fines and heriots. The farming has been much improved since the formation of the various agricultural societies the first of which was founded at Workington by Mr. Curwen. At Carlisle, Penrith, and Whitehaven there are horticultural-societies, which are doing all in their power to encourage the cultivation of fruit and flowers. The principal mountains are Sea Fell, 3,166 feet; Helvellyn, 3,055; Skiddaw, 3,022; Bow Fell, E. of Sea Fell, 2,911; Cross Fell, 2,901; the Pillar, 2,893; Red Pike, 2 850; Saddleback, 2,787; Grisdale Pike 2,756; High Pike, near Hesket-Newmarket, 2,101; Causey Pike, 2,010; Black Comb, near Bootle, 1,919; and Dent Hill, near Egremont, 1,110. From Skiddaw, Sea Fell, and Helvellyn can be seen, in clear weather, the Irish Sea, the mountains of Wales and Scotland, with the Isle of Man, and the Irish coast beyond. Snow is frequently seen on these three mountains until the months of May and June. On the Cross Fell ridge a body of clouds is frequently seen half way down the fells, quite stationary. This is called by the people the "helm", and opposite to it is usually seen another cloud, called the "helm bar", in a state of agitation, caused by a partial wind. When this is dispersed, the helm also is broken up, and the wind rushes down into the valley, frequently inflicting great damage on the crops. Grouse and a few black game are to be found on all the mountains. The principal lakes are, Ulleswater, Thirlemere, Bassenthwaite Water, Derwentwater, Buttermere, Crummock Water, Loweswater, Ennerdale, and Wastwater. Ulleswater is the largest of these, and measures 9 miles in length by 1 mile in breadth. The others vary from 1 mile to 4 miles in length, and from half a mile to 1 mile in breadth. All are very deep; Wastwater, the deepest, being 270 feet. Ennerdale, Ulleswater, Buttermere, and Crummock Water contain char, as well as trout, pike, and perch. The three last-named species are to be found in all the tarns and lakes of the county. Chub are also to be found in Ulleswater, but in no other lake in England. The best known of the numerous mountain tarns are, Overwater, near Uldale; Tarn Wadling near High Hesket; Talkin Tarn, in Hayton parish; Martin Tarn, in Wigton parish; Burnmoor Tarn, between Sea and Screes fells; and Styhead Tarn, near Borrowdale. These all abound in trout and eels, some containing also perch and pike. Tarn Wadling affords plenty of fine carp. The larger lakes are visited in the winter by numerous flocks of wild ducks, geese, swans, and other fowl. The abruptness of the surface has caused many waterfalls, of which the finest are - Scale Force, near Crummock Water, which has a fall of 156 feet in one leap, and then of 44 feet over rocks of sienite; Barrow Cascade, 124 feet; Lodore, near Keswick, 100; Sour-Milk Ghyll, near Buttermere, 90; Airy Force, near Ulleswater, 80; and the Nunnery Cascade, Croglin, 60. There are a great number of rivers of various sizes in this county The largest is the Eden, about 35 miles in length. It rises in the Ravenstonedale fells, on the borders of Yorkshire and Westmoreland, and unites with the Eamont about 9 miles from its parting with Ulleswater; it then flows right across the county, and falls into the Solway Frith. It passes Eden Hall, the seat of the Musgrave family, Kirkoswald, Nunnery Park, Armathwaite, Corby Castle, Warwick Bridge, Carlisle, and Grinsdale. Near its mouth is the monument erected to King Edward I. The Roman Wall crosses the river a short distance below Carlisle. The scenery along the banks is of great beauty, throughout the whole of its course, and it abounds in trout and salmon. It receives several smaller streams: the Caldew, which rises S. of Skiddaw, and passes by Hesket Newmarket, Sebergham, Rose Castle, and Dalston, and, after a course of 24 miles, joins the Eden at Carlisle. This river is remarkable from the fact of its flowing from Haltcliff Bridge to Sebergham, a distance of about 4 miles, in a subterranean passage. The Peteril rises near Greystock Park, and enters the Eden a little N. of Carlisle, running the whole way nearly parallel to the road from Penrith. The Irthing forms, for some 12 miles, the boundary between Cumberland and Northumberland, entering the former county near Gilsland Spa, and passing Upper and Nether Denton, Naworth Castle, Lanercost, or Leonard Cost, Irthington, and Edmond Castle, reaches the Eden near Holmgate. The Esk rises in Scotland, and enters Cumberland at its point of junction with the Liddel, which river divides the two kingdoms of England and Scotland for about 8 miles. It then flows by Kirk Andrews, Netherby, and Longtown, and receives the Line near its entrance into the Solway Frith at Rockcliff Marsh. The Line is formed by the union of two streams - the Black and White Line - which rise on the borders of Scotland, in the Christenbury Crags. The Sark is for about 6 miles the border-line between Cumberland and Scotland, near Solway Moss. The Wampool and the Waver form one estuary of considerable size. The former flows from the Brocklebank Fells, past Old Carlisle and Wigton. The town of Kirkbride is close to its mouth. The Waver rises in the same neighbourhood, and takes a similar course. The Ellen reaches the sea near Maryport, after a course of about 18 miles, passing on its way Ireby, Bolton, Aspatria, Ellenborough, and Netherhall. The Cocker forms the lakes of Buttermere and Crummockwater, and at Cockermouth receives the Derwent, which rises in Borrowdale, and flows through Derwentwater, and Bassenthwaite Water. The united streams join the sea at Workington. The Greta has its source in a tarn on Saddleback, and flowing in a very circuitous direction, passes Threlkeld and joins the Derwent at Keswick. The Irt, which flows through Wastdale, was once celebrated for the beauty of the pearls found in its waters. The Dudden has its source at Wrynose Fell, and for about 20 miles is the boundary between Cumberland and Lancashire. There is a second Esk, which flows from near Sea Fell to join the sea at Ravenglass. The Tees for a short distance divides Cumberland from Westmoreland and Durham. There are many smaller streams, among them the Croglin, Nent, Mitre, End, Carn, and others. During the last five years salmon have been very much on the increase, and this season (1863) many large "takes "have been made in the Solway, Eden, and Derwent. In the Eden the season commences on the 1st January; in the Solway and Esk on the 10th March, closing in all three on the 25th September. In the Derwent, however, the limits are the 10th February and 10th October. As in the other western counties, showers are very frequent and copious, more so in the southern division of the county, where the mountains collect the clouds and cause them to discharge the rain which they hold over the valleys. There is least rain in April, and most from July to September. At Carlisle the annual mean quantity of rain is 30 inches, at Wigton 34 inches, at Whitehaven 50 inches, and at Keswick 68 inches. The cold in winter is very severe, the snow remaining till quite the end of spring upon the mountains; but in spite of this and of the dampness, it seems a very healthy county, and instances of remarkable longevity are not uncommon. The minerals of this county are numerous. It belongs to the red marl district, which runs by the western base of the range of hills extending from the Tweed to Derbyshire. The most common formation is white and red sandstone, the latter predominating. A strip of carboniferous limestone, bordered by another of coal, runs across from Penrith to Ireby, thence to Cockermouth, and the coal extends to Maryport and Whitehaven. At Carlisle these two minerals are again found, the intermediate space being sandstone. The mountainous districts consist principally of granite, sienite, greenstone, hypersthene, sandstone, limestone, and slate. Granite of the grey variety is found near Skiddaw, and in the beds of the Caldew and Greta. Various coloured marbles are met with: at Lip Stainton and Dacre, brown; at Kirkoswald, blue; at Cross Fell, green; and in the Peteril, yellow. At Ambroth Fell, near Keswick, and in St. John's Vale, red porphyry is found, and the same stone occurs at Borrowdale, Eskdale, Patterdale, Sea Fell, and Helvellyn, associated with grey slate and hornstone. The public roads near Newbiggin are repaired with greenstone, found at Barrock. At the former place, and at Coat Hill, near Carlisle, there are extensive gypsum quarries. Near Berrier, and on the N. bank of the Derwent, basaltic rock is noticed. In several parts of the county there are traces of the action of glaciers, or torrents, for boulders are frequently found belonging to formations which only occur at a great distance from their present situation; for instance, fragments of the rocks in Ennerdale and the vale of the Cocker are found on the W. coast, and boulders from the Dumfries granite in the eastern parts. The mineral productions are very valuable, including coal, lead, silver, iron, copper, and plumbago, and afford work to a large number of hands. Limestone is burnt in large quantities for exportation. There are 28 collieries in the county, of which 12 are near Maryport, 8 near Workington, and 4 near Whitehaven. There are also 2 near Wigton, 1 at Aspatria, and 1 at Harrington. At Whitehaven the principal entrance to the mines is by a long passage hewn in the rock, at the foot of a hill, with galleries intersecting it. The King-pit, the deepest in the mine, runs under the sea to a depth of 960 feet, the water above being deep enough to allow a passage to ships of a considerable size. At Workington the pits are not so deep, being usually from 240 to 500 feet. Iron-ore is also very plentiful near Whitehaven. There are 18 mines in the vicinity; the most noted being Crowgarth, near Egremont, where the band of ore lies at the depth of about 70, feet, and is from 24 to 25 feet thick. This mine supplies the Carron Foundry in Scotland. Near Alston there are more than 40 lead-mines, most of them belong to Greenwich Hospital, to which they were granted on the attainder and execution of their former owner, the Earl of Derwentwater, in 1716. Lead has been also discovered between Saddleback and Skiddaw, at Newlands and Thornthwaite, and near Buttermere. Silver is frequently found in the same locality, and though formerly neglected, is now worked to great profit; the largest yield is usually from Roughten Gill. Copper is worked at Hesket, Wytheburn, and Caldbeck. At Giller Coom, in Borrowdale, was the richest graphite or plumbago mine in the world, but it is now almost exhausted. A vein of gold was discovered near Newlands by a foreigner, in the time of Elizabeth, but was never worked, owing to a lawsuit between the queen and the Earl of Northumberland, the lord of the manor. A few precious stones, as chalcedony, garnets, jasper, cornelian, opal, and agate, are found occasionally among the rocks, especially those of the Sea Fell and Helvellyn range. Cumberland is divided into five wards or hundreds: Eskdale, Cumberland, Leath, Allerdale-above-Derwent and Allerdale-below-Derwent. The first three, with the city of Carlisle, form the division called East Cumberland; the latter that of West Cumberland; each division returning two members to the House of Commons. There are three parliamentary boroughs, Carlisle and Cockermouth, which return two members each, and Whitehaven, which returns one. The parishes number 106, of which several contain over 10,000 acres; St. Bees 73,620 acres, being one of the largest parishes in England. There are 18 market towns: Carlisle, where the assizes, and Easter and Midsummer sessions, are held; Cockermouth and Penrith, where the Epiphany and Michaelmas sessions are held; Whitehaven, Wigton, Alston, Bootle, Brampton, Longtown, Aspatria, Egremont, Hesket-Newmarket, Ireby, Keswick, Kirkoswald, Maryport, Ravenglass, and Workington. Of these the first six, with Keswick, have new County Courts, and the first nine Poor-law Unions. The polling-places are, for the eastern division, Carlisle, where the elections take place, Wigton, Alston, Brampton, Longtown, Hesket-Newmarket, Kirkoswald, Dalston, and Penrith; for the western division, Cockermouth, where the elections take place, Bootle, Aspatria, Egremont, and Keswick. The local government is administered by a lord-lieutenant, 12 deputy-lieutenants, a sheriff, and about 85 magistrates. The county is included in the Northern circuit, and is chiefly in the archdeaconry and diocese of Carlisle, in the province of York, excepting a few parishes in the diocese of Chester, and the parish of Alston in that of Durham. There are three rural deaneries - Penrith, Wigton, and Carlisle and over 160 churches and chapels belonging to the Church. According to the census of 1861, the county contained 40,532 inhabited houses, and 205,276 persons, showing an increase in population of 9,784 persons since 1851. As has been already stated, most of the population are engaged in agriculture and mining; next to those occupations the most important is the cotton manufacture, carried on principally at Carlisle. There are also several mills on the Caldew. Coarse linen and sailcloth are also produced at Whitehaven, and woollen-cloth at Keswick. The paper and earthenware manufactures are carried on, but not to any great extent. At Whitehaven there are a few ship-building yards. Some of the antiquities, as the Roman walls, have already been mentioned while sketching the history of the county. In addition to these, many objects of interest have been turned up. There are three Druidical temples still standing: one near Keswick, a circle of fifty granite stones, about 8 feet high; one near Cumwhitton, called "Gray Yauds", a circle of 52 yards diameter, containing 88 stones not more than 4 feet high; and a third near Little Salkeld, called "Long Meg and her Daughters", a circle about 150 yards in diameter, the largest stone being 17 feet in height. There are also two or three circles at Black Comb; a barrow and a rocking-stone at Souden Head; an old Danish obelisk near Bewcastle; and inscriptions at Netherby, Ellenborough, and other places. On the Scotch borders there are many martello towers, or Peel Houses, as they are locally called, of three or four stories high, with one room on each floor. They were built as watch-towers and places of refuge during a raid, and most of them are very ancient. There are several fine specimens of monastic houses in the county. The Augustine priory at Carlisle was founded at a very early time, and destroyed by the Danes during the Saxon period, but was rebuilt on a much larger scale by William II. The same king also founded a Benedictine nunnery at Armathwaite. Ralph de Meschines founded two houses, a Benedictine monastery at Wetheral, and a Cistercian abbey at Calder, near Egremont. His son William rebuilt the Benedictine house at St. Bees (Begs), which, like most of the early churches in the northern counties, had been burnt by the Danes. Part of this building is now used as a school of Divinity. At Holme Cultram was a Cistercian abbey, founded by Henry, the son of David King of Scotland, A.D. 1150. At Lanercost and Penrith were Austin priories, the former founded by Robert, Lord of Gillesland, in 1169, the latter during the reign of Edward II. Several of the parish churches are of very ancient date; those at Bridekirk and Dearham are remarkable for the antiquity of their fonts; the churchyard at the latter place contains an old sculptured cross. Aspatria, Torpenhow, and Kirklinton present good specimens of the Norman style. Brigham church, dedicated to St. Bridget, contains some very handsome windows. The church at Cockermouth was one of the finest in the county, but was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1850. Penrith church was rebuilt in 1722, but the old tower is still standing. It is chiefly remarkable for the portraits of Richard Plantagenet and his wife in stained glass, and for the grave of Ewain, the giant, supposed to be of the 6th century. At Newton-Arlosh, Burgh-by-Sands, and Great Salkeld, the church towers are fortified, to serve as places of refuge. As might be expected in such an unquiet country, castles are very frequent, among which we may mention Naworth Castle, the old seat of the lords of Gilsland, built in the reign of Edward III., and famous as being the residence of Lord William Howard, or "Belted Will"; Kirkoswald and Dacre, both of which belonged to the Dacre family; Wulstey, where the famous Michael Scott resided; Rockcliffe, the property of the Radcliffes; Millom, Egremont, Cockermouth, and others. The principal seats of the nobility and gentry are the following: Whitehaven Castle, of the Earl of Lonsdale; Gowbarrow Park, of the Duke of Norfolk; Rose Castle, of the Bishop of Carlisle; Naworth Castle, of the Earl of Carlisle; Muncaster Castle, of Lord Muncaster; Armathwaite Hall, of Vane, Bart.; Crofton Place, of Brisco, Bart.; Hensingham Hall, of Senhouse, Bart.; Netherby, of Graham, Bart.; Edenhall, of the Musgrave family, to whom belongs the celebrated drinking-cup, called the "Luck of Edenhall"; Workington, where Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, landed in 1568; Greystock, Nunnery, Lamplugh, Newbiggin, Ireton, &c. &c. There are four lines of rail, which meet at Carlisle:- The Lancaster and Carlisle, which enters the county near Penrith, and leaving it at Gretna, is continued under the name of the Caledonian; the Newcastle and Carlisle, which passes through Wetheral, Brampton, and Haltwhistle; the Maryport and Carlisle, which passes Wigton and Aspatria, and proceeds from Maryport along the coast by Workington and Whitehaven to Morecambe Bay, where it crosses the Dudden at Lady Hall. There are two branches to this line, one from Whitehaven to Egremont, another from Workington to Cockermouth. The latter branch, when completed, will connect Cockermouth Keswick, and Penrith. The fourth line is from Carlisle to Port Carlisle and Silloth, the junction being at Drumburgh. The turnpike road from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh enters the county near Penrith, passing through Carlisle and Longtown. This, and the road from Carlisle through Brampton to Newcastle, are the old mail-coach roads. The coach road from Whitehaven to Penrith takes a circuitous route, as it passes Cockermouth and Keswick, the whole distance being 44 miles. The only canal in the county is from Carlisle to Bowness and Port Carlisle, available for vessels of 80 tons burthen, the distance being about 11¼ miles."

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