1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Westmorland

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WESTMORLAND, a north-western county of England, bounded N.W. by Cumberland, N.E. for a short distance by Durham, E. by Yorkshire, S. and S.W. by Lancashire. It reaches the sea in the Kent estuary in Morecambe Bay. The area is 786.2 sq. m. Physically the county may be roughly divided into four areas. (1) The great upland tract in the northeastern part, bordering on the western margin of Yorkshire and part of Durham, consists mainly of a wild moorland area, rising to elevations of 2780 ft. in Milburn Forest, 2403 in Dufton Fell, 2446 in Hilton Fell, 2024 in Bastifell, 2328 in High Seat, 2323 in Wild Boar Fell and 2235 in Swarth Fell. (2) The second area comprises about a third of the Lake District, (q.v.) westward from Shap Fells. This area includes High Street (2663 ft.), Helvellyn (3118) and Fairfield (2863), Langdale Pikes (2401) and on the boundary Bow Fell (2960), Crinkle Crags (2816) and Pike o' Blisco (2304). It must also be taken to cover the elevated area on the Yorkshire border which includes the Ravenstonedale and Langdale Fells to the N. and the Middleton and Barbon Fells to the S., of an intrusive angle of Yorkshire. This area, however, which reaches in some points over 2200 ft. of altitude, is marked off from the Lake District mountains by the Lune valley. All but the lower parts of the valleys within these two areas lie at or above 1000 ft. above Ordnance datum, and more than half the remainder lies between that elevation and 1750 ft., the main mass of high land lying in the area first mentioned. (3) The third area includes the comparatively low country between the northern slopes of that just described and the edge of the uplands to the north-east thereof. This covers the Vale of Eden. About three-fifths of this area lies between the 500 and the 1000 ft. contour. (4) The Kendal area consists mainly of undulating lowlands, varied by hills ranging in only a few cases up to 1000 ft. More than half this area lies below the 500 ft. contour. Westmorland may thus be said to be divided in the middle by uplands ranging in a general south-easterly direction, and to be bordered all along its eastern side by the elevated moorlands of the Pennine chain. The principal rivers are—in the northern area the higher part of the Tees, the Eden with its main tributaries, the Lowther and the Eamont, and in the southern area the Lune and the Kent, with their numerous tributary becks and gills. The lakes include Windermere, part of Ullswater, Grasmere, Hawes Water and numerous smaller lakes and tarns, which are chiefly confined to the north-western parts of the county. Amongst the other physical features of more or less interest are numerous crags and scars, chiefly in the neighbourhood of the lakes; others are Mallerstang Edge, Helbeck, above Brough; Haikable or High Cup Gill, near Appleby; Orton Scars, and the limestone crags west of Kirkby Lonsdale. Among the waterfalls are Caldron Snout, on the northern confines of the county, flowing over the Whin Sill, and Stock Gill Force, Rydal Falls, Skelwith Force, and Dungeon Gill Force, all situated amongst the volcanic rocks in the west. Hell Gill, near the head of the Eden, and Stenkrith, near Kirkby Stephen, are conspicuous examples of natural arches eroded by the streams flowing through them.

Geology.—The diversity of scenery and physical features in this county are directly traceable to the influence of geological structure. In the mountainous north-western portion, which includes the heights of Helvellyn, Langdale Pikes, and Bow Fell, and the lakes Ullswater, Hawes Water, Grasmere and Elterwater, we find the great mass of igneous rocks known as the Borrowdale volcanic series—andesites, basalts and tuffs—of Ordovician age. On the northern and north-western sides these volcanic rocks pass into the neighbouring county of Cumberland; their southern boundary runs north-easterly from the upper end of Windermere by Kentmere and past the granitic mass of Shap Fell; thence the boundary turns north-westward through Rasgill to the east end of Ullswater. Narrow strips of Ordovician Skiddaw slate occur on the south banks of Ullswater and fringe the Borrowdale rocks for some distance east of Windermere. A large area of Silurian rocks occupies most of the south-western part of the county from Windermere to near Ravenstonedale and southward to Sedbergh, Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale. The Ordovician and Silurian rocks are bordered on the east and south by Carboniferous limestone from the river Eamont southward through Clifton, Shap, Crosby Garrett and Ravenstonedale; and again south of Kendal, down the Kent valley and eastward to Kirkby Lonsdale. Outlying patches of limestone rest on the Silurian at Grayrigg, Mealbank and elsewhere. The Carboniferous limestone is found again on the east side of the Eden valley in Milburn Forest, Dufton Fell, Stainmore and Winster Fell. Here and there in the south-east corner Millstone Grit and Shales cap the limestone and some little distance east of Brough under Stainmore a small patch of Coal Measures remains. At the base of the Carboniferous rocks in this county is a red conglomeratic deposit, the lower part of which may be regarded as of Old Red Sandstone age; it may be traced from Ullswater through Butterwick, Rasgill and Tebay, and it appears again at Sedbergh, Barton and around Kendal. In the limestones on the east side of the Eden the Great Whin Sill, a diabase dike, may be followed for a considerable distance. In the Eden valley two sets of red sandstones occur, that on the western side is of Permian age and includes the conglomerate beds known as “brockram.” The Permian extends as a belt from 4 to 2 m. wide between Penrith, Appleby and Kirkby Stephen. The sandstone on the eastern side of the valley is of Bunter age. The eastern side of the valley is strongly faulted so that small patches of Ordovician and Silurian rocks appear all along the margin of the Carboniferous limestone. Evidences of glaciation are abundant in the form of morainic accumulations and transported or striated blocks.

Climate and Agriculture.—The rainfall is very heavy, especially in the western part (see Lake District), whence it diminishes eastward. Thus at Kendal, on the eastern flank of the Lake District, the mean annual rainfall is still as high as 48.71 in., whereas at Appleby in the Eden valley it is only 32.45 in. The greater part of the county may, however, be considered to lie within an area having 40 to 60 in. mean annual fall. The average temperature in January at Appleby is 35.8° F., but at Windermere it is 37.4°. The summer temperature is mild; thus at the same two points 58.4° and 58.7° are recorded. The principal characteristic of the climate is the preponderance of cloudy, wet and cold days, especially in the spring and autumn,—combining to retard the growth of vegetation. The late stay of cold winds in the spring has much to do with the same especially in the lowlands extending along the foot of the Cross Fell escarpment from Brough north-westwards. The helm-wind (q.v.) is characteristic of this district. Scarcely one-half of the total area of the county is under cultivation, and of this acreage about five sixths is in permanent pasture, both cattle and sheep being largely kept. Large portions of the valleys are well wooded. Nearly the whole of the acreage under corn crops is occupied by oats; a little barley is grown, but the wheat crop is insignificant. About three-fourths of the acreage under green crops is occupied by turnips. The meadow-land yields excellent grass. Grass of inferior value characterizes the pasture-lands; while on the fell (or unenclosed) land, except in limestone areas, the herbage consists chiefly of the coarser kinds of grass, bents and heather. These, however, furnish nourishment for the hardier breeds of sheep, which are pastured there in large numbers. It is from the sale of these, of their stock cattle, horses and pigs, and of their dairy produce that the staple of the farmers' income is derived. A large part of Westmorland was formerly in the hands of “statesmen” (see Cumberland) whose holdings were Usually of small extent, but were sufficient, with careful management, for the respectable maintenance of themselves and their families. The proportion of landowners of this class has greatly decreased.

Manufactures.—The manufacturing industries, owing to the absence of any large supplies of native fuel, are not numerous. The principal is woollen manufacture in one form or another, and this is chiefly confined to the low country in and near Kendal. Bobbin-making, the manufacture of explosives, fulling, snuff-grinding and several small industries are carried on, and use the water-power available at so many points. Paper-making is also carried on. The quarries occupy a considerable number of hands at various points, as in the case of the green slate quarries which are detrimental to the scenery in the lower part of Langdale.

Communications.—The main line of the London and North-Western railway from the south serves Oxenholme (branch to Kendal and Windermere), Low Gill (branch to Ingleton in Yorkshire), and Tebay, leaving the county after surmounting the heavy gradient at Shap. The Midland main line, with a parallel course, serves Appleby. A branch of the North Eastern system from Darlington serves Kirkby Stephen and Tebay, and another branch connects Kirkby Stephen with Appleby and Penrith.

Population and Administration.—The area of the ancient county is 503,160 acres, with a population in 1891 of 66,098 and in 1901 of 64,303. The natives are prevalently tall, wiry, long-armed, big-handed, dark-grey-eyed and fresh-coloured. In disposition they are cautious, reserved and unemotional and thrifty beyond measure. The general character of the dialects of Westmorland is that of a basis of Anglian speech, influenced to a certain extent by the speech current amongst the non-Anglian peoples of Strathclyde. This is overlaid to a much greater though variable extent by the more decidedly Scandinavian forms of speech introduced at various periods between the 10th and the 12th centuries. Three well-marked dialects can be made out.

The area of the administrative county is 505,330 acres. The county contains four wards (corresponding to hundreds). The municipal boroughs are Appleby, the county town (pop. 1764) and Kendal (14,183). The urban districts are Ambleside (2536), Bowness and Windermere (5061), Grasmere (781), Kirkby Lonsdale (1638) and Shap (1226). The county is in the northern circuit, and assizes are held at Appleby. It has one court of quarter sessions, and is divided into five petty sessional divisions. The borough of Kendal has a separate commission of the peace. There are 115 civil parishes. Westmorland is in the diocese of Carlisle, and contains 86 ecclesiastical parishes or districts, wholly or in part. There are two parliamentary divisions. Northern or Appleby and Southern or Kendal, each returning one member.

History.—The earliest English settlements in the district which is now Westmorland were effected by the Angian tribes who entered Yorkshire by the Humber in the 6th century and laid the foundations of the kingdom of Deira, which included within its bounds that portion of Westmorland afterwards known as the barony of Kendal. The northern district, corresponding to the later barony of Appleby, meanwhile remained unconquered, and it was not until the close of the 7th century that Ecgfrith drove out the native Britons and established the Northumbrian supremacy over the whole district. With the Danish invasions of the 9th century the Kendal district was included in the Danelaw, while the barony of Appleby formed a portion of the land of Carlisle. The first mention of Westmorland in the Saxon Chronicle occurs under 966, when it was harried by Thored son of Gunnar, the term here applying only to the barony of Appleby, which at this period was being extensively colonized by Norwegian settlers, traces of whose occupation are especially noticeable in the place-names of the Lake District,

The Domesday Survey describes only the barony of Kendal which appears as part of Amounderness in Yorkshire. Before the Conquest it had formed part of the earldom of Tostig of Northumbria, and had been bestowed by William I. on Roger of Poitou, but, owing to the forfeiture of his estates by the latter, at the time of the survey it was in the hands of the crown. The annexation of the northern portion of Westmorland to the crown of England was accomplished by William Rufus, who in 1092 drove out Dolfin from the land of Carlisle, and fortified Brough-under-Stainmore, Brougham, Appleby and Pendragon. In the reign of Henry I. the barony of Appleby was included in the grant to Ranulph Meschin of the earldom of Carlisle, but on the accession of Ranulph to the earldom of Chester in 1120 it was surrendered to the crown, and its inclusion in the pipe roll of 1131 shows that Westmorland was now definitely established on the administrative basis of an English county.

The barony of Kendal was held in the 12th century by the Mowbrays, and from them passed to the family of Lancaster, who held it as of the honour of Westmorland. In the 13th century it was separated into two moieties; the Lindsay moiety which passed from the Lindsays to the Copelands and Coucys and in the reign of Henry VI. to the Beauforts and Richmonds, whence was derived its later name of Richmond Fee; the Brus moiety, which became subdivided into the Marquis Fee held by the Parr family, ancestors of Katherine Parr, and the Lumley Fee which passed from the Thwengs to the Lumleys and Hothams. The barony of Appleby, with the hereditary shrievalty was bestowed by King John on the family of Veteripont, from whom it passed by female descent to the Cliffords in the 13th century, and in the 16th century to the Tuftons, afterwards earls of Thanet, who retained the dignity until their descendant, Mr Barham of Trecwn, yielded his rights to the crown.

The division of Westmorland into wards originated with the system of defence against the inroads of the Scots, each barony being divided into two wards, and each ward placed under a high constable, who presided over the wards to be maintained at certain fords and other appointed places. The barony of Kendal was divided into Kendal and Lonsdale wards, and the barony of Appleby, called the Bottom, into east and west wards, there being anciently a middle ward between these last two. The shire court and assizes for the county were held at Appleby.

The barony of Appleby was included in the diocese of York from the 7th century, and in 1291 formed the deaneries of Lonsdale and Kendal within the archdeaconry of Richmond. The barony of Appleby, which had been bestowed by Henry I. in the see of Carlisle, formed in 1291 the deanery of Westmorland within the archdeaconry and diocese of Carlisle. The barony of Kendal was placed by Henry VIII. in his new diocese of Chester, of which it remained a part until in 1856 it was constituted the archdeaconry of Westmorland within the diocese of Carlisle. In 1859 the Westmorland portion of the archdeaconry of Carlisle was subdivided into the deaneries of Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and Lowther; and the additional deanery of Ambleside was formed within the archdeaconry of Westmorland. The only religious foundation of any importance in Westmorland was the Premonstratensian house at Shap founded by Thomas, son of Gospatric, in the 12th century.

The early political history of Westmorland after the Conquest is a record of continuous inroads and devastations from the Scots. In the Scottish invasion of the northern counties which followed the battle of Bannockburn Brough and Appleby were burnt, and the county was twice harried by Robert Bruce in the ensuing years. In 1385 a battle was fought at Hoff near Appleby against the Scots under Earl Douglas, and in 1388, after Otterburn, the Scots sacked Appleby with such effect that nine tenths of it lay in ruins and was never rebuilt. In the Wars of the Roses, Westmorland, under the Clifford influence, inclined to favour the Lancastrian cause, but was not actively concerned in the struggle. In the Civil War of the 17th century the chief families of the county were royalist, and in 1641 Anne, countess of Pembroke, hereditary high sheriff of the county, garrisoned Appleby Castle for the king, placing it in charge of Sir Philip Musgrave, the colonel of the train-bands of Westmorland and Cumberland. In 1642 a memorial was presented to Charles signed by nearly 5000 of the inhabitants of Westmorland and Cumberland protesting their loyalty and readiness to sacrifice their lives and fortunes in his service. Appleby Castle surrendered in 1648, but the strength of the royalist feeling was shown in the joy which greeted the news of the Restoration, the mayor of Appleby publicly destroying the charter which the town had received from Cromwell. The Jacobite rising of 1745 found many adherents in Westmorland, and a skirmish took place on Clifton Moor between the forces of Lord George Murray and the duke of Cumberland.

The economic development of Westmorland, both on account of natural disadvantages and of the ravages of border strife, has been slow and unimportant; the rugged and barren nature of the ground being unfavourable to agricultural prosperity, while the lack of fuel hindered the growth of manufactures. Sheep-farming was carried on in the moorland districts, however, and the Premonstratensian house at Shap supplied wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries. The clothing industry, which spread from Kendal to the surrounding districts, is said to have been introduced by one John Kempe of Flanders, who settled there in the reign of Edward III., and a statute of 1465 alludes to cloths of a distinct make being manufactured at Kendal. In 1589 the county suffered severely from the ravages of the plague, 2500 deaths being recorded in the deanery of Kendal alone. Speed, writing in the 17th century, says of Westmorland that “it is not commended either for plenty of corn or cattle, being neither stored with arable grounds to bring forth the one, nor pasturage to lead up the other; the principal profit that the people of this province raise unto themselves is by clothing.” The comb manufacture was established at Kendal in 1700, and about the same time the development of the boot and shoe trade to some extent supplemented the loss consequent on the decline of the clothing industry. There were two paper-mills at Milnthorpe in 1777, one of which existed eighty years before.

Westmorland returned two knights for the county to the parliament of 1290, and in 1295 two burgesses for the borough of Appleby. Under the Reform Act of 1832 Appleby was disfranchised and Kendal returned one member.

Antiquities.—Notable ecclesiastical buildings are almost entirely wanting in Westmorland, though mention may be made of the ruins of Shap Abbey, which lies near the small market town of that name in the bleak upper valley of the Lowther. The Perpendicular western tower and other fragments remain. Late Norman work is preserved in some of the churches, as at Kirkby Lonsdale, and in a few castles. Among the castles, those at Appleby, Brough, Brougham and Kendal are notable, but examples are numerous. Among old houses, Levens Hall dates from the 16th century, and Sizergh Hall embodies part of an ancient castle; both are in the Kendal district. The formal gardens at Levens Hall are remarkable. Lowther Castle, near Penrith, the seat of the earl of Lonsdale, is a fine modern mansion, in a Gothic style more satisfactory in broad effect than in detail.

See Joseph Nicholson and Richard Burn, The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland (2 vols., London, 1777); William Whellan, The History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (Pontefract, 1860); Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeologiral Society (Kendal, 1870, &c.); R. S . Ferguson, History of Westmorland (Popular County Histories, 1894); Sir D. Fleming, Description of Westmorland (1671); T. Gibson, Legends and Notes on Places of North Westmorland (London, 1887); M. W. Taylor, Manorial Halls of Westmorland (Kendal, 1892); T. Ellwood, Landnama Book of Iceland as it illustrates the Dialect and Antiquities of Westmorland (Kendal, 1894); Victoria County History, Westmorland.