HAWKSHEAD, a small town, a township, a parish, and a sub-district, in Ulverston district, Lancashire. The town stands in a sheltered valley, at the head of Esthwaite water, 2 miles W of Windermere lake, 4 E by N of Coniston r. station, and 5 SW by S of Ambleside; is surrounded by a picturesque country, with many of the finest features of the Lake region; dates from very ancient times; was long the capital of Furness, and a seat of the courts of justice of Furness abbey; has a compact form, with a rather spacious market place; contains a number of old, quaint, picturesque houses; is a seat of petty sessions, and a polling place; and has a post office under Windermere, a good inn, a modern town hall, a church, a Baptist chapel, a grammar school, a national school, and some charities. The church was founded about the time of the Conquest; retains the piers and arches of its original masonry; was rebuilt, in the time of Elizabeth, by Archbishop Sandys; has a massive square tower; contains effigies of Archbishop Sandys' parents; and stands on an elevation, with a fine view. The churchyard contains the grave of the distinguished Miss Elizabeth Smith. The grammar school was founded by Archbishop Sandys; has an endowed income of £210, and a good library; and numbers, among its pupils, Dr. Walker, Dr. Wordsworth, the poet Wordsworth, Lord Abinger, Sir Frederick Pollock, and Dr. King. A weekly market is held on Monday; and fairs, on Easter Monday, the Monday before Holy Thursday, and 2 Oct. The township bears the name of Hawkshead-with-Monk-Coniston and Skelwith; and includes the hamlets of Borwick, Henakin, and Gallowbarrow. Acres, 9,152. Real property, £6,720. Pop., 1,144. Houses, 234. The manor belonged formerly to Furness abbey; and belongs now to the Duke of Buccleuch. The parish contains also the townships of Claife and Satterthwaite, and comprises 19,252 acres. Real property, £13,219. Pop. in 1851, 2,283; in 1861, 2,081. Houses, 415. The property, in many parts, is subdivided. Much of the land is hilly pasture. Slate and building stone are quarried; copper ore is worked; and iron ore and other useful minerals occur. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Carlisle. Value, £150. * Patron, the Duchy of Lancaster. The chapelries of Satterthwaite, Brathay, and Low Wray are separate benefices. There are chapels of ease in Skelwith and Claife, and a Quakers' chapel at Colthouse. The sub-district contains also part of Ulverston parish. Acres, 30,132. Pop., 3,599. Houses, 717.

John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)



Hawkshead: It's History, Archeology, Industries, Folklore, Dialect, etc. etc. by Henry Swainson Cowper, F.S.A. 1899




Civil Registration

The Register Office covering the Hawkshead area is Ulverston.


Description & Travel

Information about the village provided by The Hawkshead Traders Association.

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Hawkshead parish from Mannix & Co., History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland, 1851.



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"HAWKSHEAD, a parish and small market town in the hundred of Lonsdale North of the Sands, county Lancaster, 5 miles S. of Ambleside, 6 W. of Windermere railway station, and 13 W. of Kendal, by crossing the lake. This parish, which is of considerable extent, being 9 miles in length by 5½ wide, is divided into four townships: Hawkshead, Claife, Satterthwaite, and Monk Coniston with Skelwith. It is bounded on the W. by Coniston Lake, on the N. by Elter Water and the river Brathay, on the E. by Lake Windermere, and on the S. by the parish of Colton, which was separated from it in 1680. It was constituted a parish in the reign of Elizabeth, by Archbishop Sandys, a native of the place, having been previously a chapelry under Dalton-in-Furness. About one-third of the land is enclosed as pasture: the rest is occupied by woods, interspersed with lakes, waterfalls, and fells. The town of Hawkeshead was formerly incorporated, and during the existence of Furness Abbey, was governed by a bailiff appointed by the abbot, who dispensed justice for the whole of that district in a court-room over the gateway of a house belonging to the abbots. It is now only a considerable village, where petty sessions are held fortnightly in the town hall; also a manor court. The houses, many of which are old, are somewhat scattered, standing near the head of Esthwaite Water, a small lake, in the centre of a valley almost surrounded by the fells of Furness. The borders of the lake are adorned with numerous villas and farmhouses; and on Priest's Pott, a circular pool at the head of Esthwaite Water, is a floating islet, containing trees and shrubs. The lands belong to various gentlemen in the neighbourhood, who have seats scattered in various parts, but chiefly bordering on the lakes of Windermere and Coniston. Slate and building stone are quarried, the former for exportation. Iron, copper, and other minerals occur, and the copper mines and slate quarries are worked to a considerable extent.

"TILBERTHWAITE, a hamlet in the parish of Hawkshead, county Lancaster, 2 miles N.W. of Hawkshead-in-Yewdale, near Tilberthwaite Fells."

"SKELWITH, a township in the parish of Hawkshead, hundred of Lonsdale North of the Sands, county Lancaster, 2 miles S.W. of Ambleside. It is joined with Monk-Coniston to form a township."

"MONK CONISTON, a township with Skelwith, in the parish of Hawkshead, in the county of Lancaster, 2 miles to the W. of Hawksehead. Windermere is its post town. It is situated in the Lake district, at the head of Coniston Water, abounding in trout, char, and other fish. The lake is about 6 mile. long, by 75 miles broad, and joins the sea by the river Crake. At Coniston Fells is some fine scenery, and copper and elate are worked."

"BRATHAY, a village in the parish of Hawkshead, hundred of North Lonsdale, in the county of Lancashire, 1 mile to the S.W. of Ambleside, its post town. It is seated at the head of Windermere, on the banks of the Brathay river, which takes its rise on the edge of Cumberland, at Bow Fell, and after a course of about 10 miles, through Langdale and Elterwater, falls into the lake of Windermere. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Carlisle, worth £40, in the patronage of G. Redmayne, Esq. Near the village is Brathay Park."


Historical Geography

In 1835 the parish of Hawkshead contained the townships of Hawkhead and Monk Coniston with Skelwith, Claife, and Satterthwaite.

Information about boundaries and administrative areas is available from A Vision of Britain through time.




View maps of Hawkshead and places within its boundaries.

View a map of the boundaries of this town/parish.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SD340991 (Lat/Lon: 54.383284, -3.01719), Hawkshead which are provided by:


Probate Records

For probate purposes prior to 1858, Hawkshead was in the Archdeaconry of Richmond, in the Diocese of Chester. The original Lancashire wills for the Archdeaconry of Richmond are held at the Lancashire Record Office.



You can also see Family History Societies covering the nearby area, plotted on a map. This facility is being developed, and is awaiting societies to enter information about the places they cover.