Hawkshead & Monk Coniston with Skelwith

Township in Hawkshead parish, Lonsdale hundred, Lancashire North of the Sands. Divided 1894 between newly-created CPs of Coniston, Hawkshead and Skelwith.


10,429 acres [4,221 ha] in four divisions: Hawkshead (1,973 acres [798 ha]); Field Head (2,520 acres [1,020 ha]); Monk Coniston (3,109 acres [1,258 ha]); and Skelwith (2,828 acres [1,144 ha]). Common land at Hawkshead (1,852 acres [749 ha]) and Skelwith (725 acres [293 ha]) enclosed 1862.


rising from 920 in 1801 to peak of 1,362 in 1841, then in range 1,100-1,250 for remainder of 19th century; stood at 1,224 in 1891 (last census year before creation of new CPs).


manor of Hawkshead granted to Furness Abbey c. 1160 and descended with abbey’s estates after Dissolution (see Barrow in Furness).


livestock farming and woodland industries since medieval period. Coppice woodland and charcoal burning with associated activities (e.g. tanning: tanyard at Castle, 1840s). Slate quarrying, 17th-20th century; on large scale at Hodge Close Quarry from 19th century to 1960s; Brathay Quarry continues in use. Iron forge recorded 1675, perhaps the bloomery site near Blelham Tarn. Flax mill at Thursgill by 1789; converted to bobbin mill c.1800; had closed by 1910. Hawkshead gained charter for weekly market and fairs 1606; described by Sir Daniel Fleming 1675 as ‘a little market for the sale of provisions, wooll and yarne’; wool market extinct by 1900. Tourism of growing importance since 19th century, Hawkshead becoming one of Lake District’s main tourist destinations by late 20th century.

Places of worship:

chapel of ease in Dalton parish recorded c.1200; said to have gained parochial status 1578 (though registers begin 1568); parish church of St Michael dates largely from 16th and 17th century (date stones of 1578); restored 1875-6. Holy Trinity Church at Brathay, Skelwith, consecrated 1836. Baptist chapel at Hawkshead Hill, converted from cottage 1709 for congregation established 1678; congregation had dwindled to extinction by 1833 but revived c.1876 when chapel renovated; still in use. Hawkshead Methodist Church originated as Union Chapel, converted from cottage 1862; still in use.

Schools and other institutions:

Hawkshead Grammar School founded by Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York, 1585; rebuilt 1675; closed 1909 (building now a museum); library attached to school founded 1669, augmented 1717. National school for girls recorded 1836. New school built 1863 (and infant school built 1873); replaced by Hawkshead Esthwaite County Primary School on new site on edge of village by 1980s. Brathay District CE School, Skelwith Bridge, opened c.1863; closed c.1970; became village hall (Skelwith Community Hall). Town hall or market hall built 1790 on site of former shambles; enlarged 1887. Reading room at Outgate, built 1906; converted to housing early 21st century.