ST. BEES, Cumberland - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]
"ST. BEES, (or Kirkby Beacock), a parish in the ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, in the county of Cumberland, 3 miles to the N. W. of Egremont. It is situated near the coast of the Irish Sea, along which it extends about 10 miles, and was the largest parish in the county until recently, when Loweswater was constituted a parochial chapelry, with independent jurisdiction. It contains the chapelries of Ennerdale, Eskdale, Hensingham, Nether Wasdale, Wasdale Head, and Whitehaven, the last being a market town and seaport; and the townships of Kinniside, Lowside-Quarter, Preston-Quarter, Rottington, Sandwith, and Weddiker. The district is hilly, and the coast generally steep and rocky. Coal, limestone, and freestone are obtained, with some lead; and iron has been found in great abundance in the neighbourhood. The vicinity abounds in striking scenery. On the promontory called St. Bees Head, 3 miles to the S. of Whitehaven, is a lighthouse, with a fixed light at an elevation of 333 feet, visible at a distance of 23 miles. It was erected in 1822, a former one, erected in 1717, having been burnt down. Large numbers of seafowl haunt the rocky coast. The village is said to owe its origin to a nunnery, founded here in the 7th century by St. Begs, an Irish princess, whom some identify with St. Bridget. A few interesting fragments of that earlier foundation are preserved in the present church and churchyard. After its demolition by the Danes in the 10th century, a priory was established near the ancient site by William de Meschines, in the reign of Henry I. for a prior and monks of the Benedictine order, and was made a cell to St. Mary's Abbey in York. At the Dissolution its annual revenue was about £150. Nearly all traces of its domestic buildings have disappeared; but the nave of its church has been used as the parish church since 1611. It is a venerable cruciform building, principally semi-Norman (circa 1200). The chancel, repaired from a ruin in 1817, to serve as a divinity school, is very noble, but needs restoration. The transepts and tower have recently been well restored, and a fine peal of eight bells, with some good church furniture and painted glass, have been added. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, now in the diocese of Carlisle, value £103, in the patronage of the Earl of Lonsdale, and is held with the principalship of the college which was, in 1817, established by Dr. Law, then Bishop of Chester, for such divinity students as are not designed for the universities. The principal is assisted by a tutor and a lecturer in theology; the course lasts two ears, and the divinity testimonial of St. Bees College is now accepted by most of the English bishops. Here is also a free grammar school, once of considerable importance, founded in 1587 by Archbishop Grindal, a native of Hensingham, in this parish. The scholars are eligible to a fellowship and two scholarships at Queen's College, Oxford, and to a fellowship and four scholarships at Cambridge. There are several other charitable endowments, producing about £50 a year. The monastery and the manor of St. Bees were granted by Edward VI., in 1553, to Sir Thomas Chaloner, through whose family and the Wybergs the manor has come to its present holder, the Earl of Lonsdale." "BOOT, a hamlet in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, in the county of Cumberland, 1 mile from Eskdale Church. It comprises about a dozen houses, with an inn. A cattle and pleasure fair is held here on the second Monday in September." "BRAYSTONES, a hamlet in the township of Lowside Quarter, and parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, in the county of Cumberland, 3 miles to the S. of Egremont. It is a station on the Whitehaven and Furness Junction railway." "GINNS, a hamlet in the parish of St. Bees, township of Preston Quarter, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 2 miles S. of Whitehaven." "HIGH and LOW HARRIS, hamlets in the township of Whitehaven and parish of St. Bees, county Cumberland, 2 miles from Whitehaven, and 40 S.W. of Carlisle. They are situated under the hills, near the mouth of the little river Roe." "HUTBANK, a hamlet in the township of Preston Quarter, county Cumberland, 2 miles from Whitehaven." "KINNEYSIDE, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 4 miles N.E. of Egremont. The village is considerable, and many of the inhabitants are employed in the extensive lead mines and in the smelting mill belonging to the London Lead Company." "KINNISIDE, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 6 miles S.E. of Whitehaven and 4 from Egremont. It contains lead, and the soil is fertile. General Windham is lord of the manor." "LOWMILL, a hamlet in the parish of St. Bees, township of Lowside Quarter, county Cumberland. It is situated in the vicinity of Whitehaven, near the coast of the Irish Sea." "LOWSIDE QUARTER, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 4 miles S. of Whitehaven. It is situated to the S.W. of Egremont, between the coast of the Irish Sea and the banks of the river Eben. The township includes the hamlets of Braystones, Middletown, Nethertown, Uppertown, otherwise Caulderton, and Low Mill. The Whitehaven and Furness Junction line of railway passes through here, and has a station both at Graystones and Nethertown. Flax spinning is extensively carried on here. Egremont Castle, now in ruins, is within this township." "PRESTON-QUARTER, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland. It is a large township, extending northward from St. Bees to Whitehaven, and contains the hamlet of Harris Moor. There are numerous large collieries belonging to the Earl of Lonsdale, who is lord of the manor. There is an endowed free school." "ROTTINGTON, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 3 miles S.W. of Whitehaven, near the coast. Here was formerly a cell, subordinate to St. Bee's nunnery." "SANDWITH, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 2 miles S. of Whitehaven. It is situated near the coast, under St. Bees Head, where is a lighthouse. Samphire grows in abundance on the cliffs." "WEDDIKER, a township in the parish of St. Bees, ward of Allerdale-above-Derwent, county Cumberland, 3 miles S.E. of Whitehaven." "WHEDDICAR, a township in the parish of St. Bees, county Cumberland, 2½ miles S.E. of Whitehaven."

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