Ancient parish in Eskdale Ward, Cumberland, containing four quarters or townships of Bailey, Bellbank, Bewcastle and Nixons.
28,563 acres [11,559 ha], divided between constituent townships thus: Bailey: 11,833 acres [4,789 ha]; Bellbank: 2,937 acres [1,189 ha]; Bewcastle: 6,204 acres [2,511 ha] and Nixons: 7,389 acres [2,990 ha]. Parish contained extensive stretches of moorland and hill common, of which Baileyhope stinted pasture (c.4,000 acres [c.1,600 ha]) was enclosed 1814; Highstone common (c.1,500 acres [c.600 ha]) 1815; Blacklyne common (c.3,500 acres [c.1,400 ha]) 1820; Arthurside stinted pasture (c.400 acres [c.160 ha]) 1835; and Greyfell common (3,112 acres [1,259 ha]) 1849. White Lyne Common (c.2,900 acres [c.1,175 ha]) remained unenclosed.
estimated at 420 in 1688. Rising from 917 in 1801 to 1,336 in 1831, then falling rapidly to c.600 by end of 19th century and declining further to 411 in 200
bulk of parish formed manor of Bewcastle, which was part of barony of Burgh by Sands c.1180; in crown hands c.1461; granted to Grahams of Netherby 1630. Bailey township lay in manor of Nichol forest, probably formed c.1604-20 by Cliffords, earls of Cumberland, who sold it to Grahams of Netherby 1628. Both manors remain in hands of Graham family.
livestock farming (said in late 17th century to be ‘very good land for herbage and meadow, but grows little corne’). Weekly market and two cattle fairs granted 1279. Lime, freestone and roadstone quarries; coal mining at Oakshawford in Bellbank township; lime-burning and small scale drain tile factory at Kinkry Hill, 1860-90s. Extensive afforestation, both Forestry Commission and private, in later 20th century.
Places of worship:
pagan worship suggested by name of Roman fort, Fanum Cocidii (‘shrine of Cocidius’); early Christian site within former Roman fort, attested by Bewcastle cross of late 7th- or 8th-century date, forerunner of medieval parish church of St Cuthbert; partly rebuilt 1792. Kinkry Hill school used as mission room in mid-19th century. Presbyterian meeting house in Nixon’s township, built 1788; demolished and replaced by new church in Bellbank township 1890-1; remains in use. Bewcastle House of Prayer, a modern religious community, established c.2012.
Schools and other institutions:
schoolmaster recorded 1664 and school recorded 1703. Three schools recorded 1818; two in 1828 and 1847, one of which was at Nook, built 1827. Two new schools built 1854-5, close to Bewcastle church and at Kinkry Hill in Bellbank township. Both closed when Board school opened in Bailey township 1878; now Bewcastle Primary School. Village hall (Roadhead Public Hall) opened 1908.