Above Derwent

Township in Crosthwaite parish, Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland.

Above Derwent was a division of the parish for poor law purposes, embracing medieval townships of Braithwaite, Coledale (or Portinscale), Thornthwaite and Newlands (or Rogersett).

Acreage: 14,750 acres [5,969 ha], including large acreages of unenclosed fell commons. Swinside pasture (203 acres [82 ha]) enclosed 1814. Commons in Thornthwaite manor (1,273 acres [515 ha]) enclosed 1814; Ladstocks common field in Thornthwaite (76 acres [31 ha]) divided by private agreement 1843.

Population: estimated at 615 in 1688; rising across early 19th century from 668 in 1811 to 1,115 by 1851 and then stable in range 900-1,100 until 1911; resident population stood at c.1,200 in late 20th century.

Landownership: part of forest of Derwentfells. Manor of Thornthwaite held by Curwens of Workington from 13th century, until bought by Ratcliffes in 1628, passing with their estates to Greenwich Hospital and Marshall family (see Keswick). Braithwaite, Coledale and Newlands lay within manor of Braithwaite and Coledale, part of honour of Cockermouth (q.v.).

Economy: hill farming; forestry at Thornthwaite and Whinlatter (Hospital Plantation from 1815; expansion after acquisition by Forestry Commission from 1920). Lead and copper mining, recorded from 13th century: Goldscope (in Newlands) was principal mine of Elizabethan Mines Royal. Lead mining continued at Thornthwaite, Brandelhow and Force Crag into 20th century; barytes mined until 1991. Coppice woodland supported mining and tanning to 18th century; bobbin mill at Thornthwaite in 19th-century. Woollen mill at Coledale, built 1824; wool carding and spinning mill at Stair by 1847. Pencil making at Braithwaite by 1847; woollen mill at Coledale became Cumberland Pencil Co. from 1867 to 1898 and mill at Stair converted to pencil making 1889. Tourism developed from 1770s as circuit of Derwentwater became popular and grew in importance across 20th century.

Places of worship: chapels of ease at Thornthwaite (now St Mary’s church) from c.1240 (rebuilt 1832 and enlarged 1852) and at Newlands by 1571 (rebuilt 1843; restored 1885). St Herbert’s church (Anglican), Braithwaite, built 1900, replacing mission room. Methodist chapel at Braithwaite, built 1850; rebuilt 1876; now used by Keswick Orthodox church.

Schools and other institutions: schools taught in chapels at Thornthwaite and Newlands in early 19th century. School at Braithwaite built 1842; now Braithwaite CE Primary School. National infant school at Thornthwaite by 1898 (closed). School at west end of Newlands church built 1877; closed 1967. Village halls at Portinscale (built 1925) and Braithwaite (Institute built as Memorial Hall 1927); recreation room at Stair in 1920s. Isolation hospital (former Traveller’s Rest inn on Whinlatter Pass) from later 19th century to 1940.

How were these summaries compiled for Cumberland?


Other Websites


Above Derwent on Vision of Britain


Specific to this township:


Lorton & Derwent Fells LHS: Source Material for VCH.


Countywide Web Sites


this link gives a schedule of many Cumbria-specific sites, which cover several Cumbrian townships; each would need to be opened and searched using the FIND facility to see if any reference is made to this township..

Outcounty Web Sites


this link gives a schedule of many national sites, which contain information about Cumbrian history; each would need to be opened and searched using the FIND facility to see if any reference is made to this township.

Other Resources


Map of Above Derwent (1901)


Historical buildings in this township


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