From Mannex's directory of Furness and Cartmel, 1882
Is a highly picturesque township and chapelry, containing a small scattered village of the same name about 2.5 miles west , from Coniston and 7 miles from Hawkshead and Broughton. The pleasant valley, through which the houses are dispersed, is intersected by the Furness line of railway which has a station here. Torver Beck runs through the valley, carrying the waters of the small tarn, Gates Water, into Coniston Lake and giving its name to the township. Some antiquarian etymologists regard the name as derived from the British word tor a detached eminence, and er fallow land; the v being inserted for the sake of euphony ; others derive it from the Celtic word Tirvor a wide or open tract of country. The latter conjecture seems further strengthened by the fact that many traces of the rude stone walls and circumvallations of the ancient Celts are met with on the lofty hills of the neighbourhood. These offer to the antiquarian endless employment, and to the student of nature much that is instructive and interesting. Most of the lofty hills which bound the valley are partly covered with underwood. The small tarn called Gates Water (Goat's Water) lies at the foot of the vale, resting on the Old Man's western side, at the foot of the precipitous Dow Crag. Like most other tarns, it is well stocked with trout. A band of the transition limestone of geologists, with many well developed strata of slate may be here examined ; and at the Ash Gill slate quarry numerous fossil shells may be obtained, among which are several varieties of the Orthis. There are three quarries worked in the township, that of the Coniston Slate Company being the most extensive.
In early times Torver formed part of the inheritance of the Harringtons, from whom it passed to Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, who, in 1553 was attainted of high treason, and forfeited his estates. In 1736 it was purchased along with Ulverston, by an ancestor of the Duke of Buccleuch, and in that family it still remains. A court baron is held yearly for the Duke.
The gross rental of the township is £1,480 ; the rateable value, £1,359 ; and the estimated rateable acreage is 1,455. The population, according to the census returns of 1881, was 199.
The principal landowners are Ed. Park, of Brocklebank Ground ; John Birkett, Mrs. Barratt, and Mrs. Wilson. The land is chiefly pasture, stock-rearing and butter-making being the farmers' chief employment.
The Church was rebuilt in 1849 on the site of the old fabric, which tradition erroneously attributed to Archbishop Cranmer. A chapel stood here before the year 1538, but being a dependency on the church of Ulverston it did not possess the privilege of a burial ground. This want was often a source of much inconvenience to the inhabitants, for in wet and stormy weather it was almost impossible to traverse with a corpse the mountain roads to Ulverston, a distance of sixteen miles. In 1538, Archbishop Cranmer granted to the church a faculty for the interment of the dead, and this seems to have led to the erroneous belief that he was the founder. The church is of the early English style of architecture, and contains 200 sittings, all of which are free and unappropriated. The living is worth about £120, and is held by the Rev. Thos. Ellwood, B.A. The school, which possesses a small endownment about £13 a year was rebuilt in 1873 from funds raised by subscription and grant from Privy Council.
At Sunnybank there is a Baptist Chapel of very ancient date which was raised and re-roofed by John Birkett, of the same place. That the air of Torver is conducive to longevity may be inferred from the records on so many tombstones in the church yard,
" O there is a sweetness in the mountain air
And life, that bloated ease can never hope to share."
Post Office at M. Jackson's. Letters arrive via messenger from Coniston at 9-30 a.m., and despatched at 1 p.m.