THE PARISH OF ST. OSWALD, RAVENSTONEDALE.
In this parish we have a Stone Circle near Rawthey Bridge;
Ancient Villages at Old Biggin and "Severals"; Lynchets at Capel
Butts and Capel Riggs; Monastic remains and the site of St. Helen's
Chapel and well at Newbiggin-on-Lune.
Thorphin, son of Robert, son of Copsus, during the reign of
Henry 11, granted the church to the priory of Watton in the East
Riding of Yorkshire, which was founded in 1150 for nuns and canons
of the new English order of Gilbert de Sempringham. The church,
however, does not appear to have been appropriated fully before the
In 1276 a curious dispute arose between the priory and Robert de
Chauncy, bishop of Carlisle, and later Bishop John de Halton (1292–1324) in his Register made a note concerning a presentment of
obedience owed by the priors of Sempringham, to whom the priory
of Watton was attached, to the bishopric of Carlisle in respect of this
The "Antique Taxatio Ecclesiastica" of Pope Nicholas IV, made
in the year 1291, values the living at £6. 10. 6. yearly, but the "Novo
Taxatio" of Pope Clement v, made in the year 1318, reduces the
value to £2. There is no mention of this church in the "Valor
Ecclesiasticus" of 26 Henry VIII, 1535.
It being alleged, in 1405, that for some considerable time past the
Priory of Watton had not kept a master and three canons to dwell in
the cell of Ravenstonedale, John de Preston and the sheriff of
Westmorland were commissioned to enquire into it. Failure to
celebrate for the good estate of the king and the souls of his progenitors and to do alms and other works of piety in any cell was a very
serious thing according to the original foundation of the priory.
Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1405, p. 63.
In 1535 John Kite, bishop of Carlisle, cited ex officio the prior and
convent of Watton to show their title to the church, who, having
made proof, were discharged from the suit.
After the suppression of the monastery in 1539, Henry VIII granted
the church and manor of Ravenstonedale to Archbishop Holgate of
York during his life, and in November, 1546, he granted the reversion
to Sir Thomas Wharton for the sum of £935. 16. 8. When the Wharton
estates were confiscated in 1727 and sold to Robert Lowther, the
great and small tithes and oblations within the parish were sold to
the inhabitants. From earliest times none of these tithes were ever
allocated for the use of a vicar, the cure being supplied by regulars
sent out from the priory, so that the church continued to be a
In the Westmorland Certificate, under date 10 March, 1645–6, the
names appear of Thomas Dodgson, minister, and William and
Anthony Fothergill as elders. On 15 February, 1654, the Commissioners approved of Thomas Dodgson as a person qualified to preach
the gospel, as follows:—Whereas the Commissioners for propagating
the gospel in the four Northern Counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland and Durham, by their order of 2 July, 1651,
granted the yearly sum of £40 to Mr. Thomas Dodgson, minister of
Ravenstonedale, it is ordered that the said yearly sum of £40 be and
the same is hereby continued for such time as Mr. Dodgson shall
discharge the duty of the minister of the said place or till further
order. Unwilling to comply with the Act of Uniformity, Dodgson
was ejected from the living, but under the pressure put upon him by
the gentry of the neighbourhood he conformed in 1664 and continued
at Ravenstonedale till his death in January, 1672–3.
The Commonwealth Survey of 1657 is as follows:—
That the right of presentation to the church is in Philip lord
Wharton. That Mr. Thomas Dodgson is present incumbent there
and hath for his maintenance £20 by the year usually paid out of the
tithes of Ravenstonedale. And hath likewise £40 per annum
augmentation paid him by the Trustees for Maintenance of Ministers
during their pleasure. That there is no glebe land nor houses
belonging to the Rectory or Vicarage of Ravenstonedale saving one
glebe little garth and two old housesteads not worth above 6s. 8d. by
Machel in describing this early church in 1688, says, it is "an old
conventual church with a row of three substantial round pillars and
four arches just in the middle. On the south side of the altar was
a piece allotted by dispensation of Bishop Potter for teaching a
school." Fifteen years later Bishop Nicolson speaks of it as "a large
and handsome church, the quire part the worst but all repaired at the
common charge of the parish. The altar has no rails and stands at a
distance from the east window, having two rows of seats betwixt it
and that for the scholars."
The church was rebuilt in 1744 near the old site. The original
contract is still preserved, between Robert Mounsey the vicar and
John Martin the builder, for pulling down of the old church and the
erection of the present one, the steeple having been built six years
A list of the Incumbents whose names have been met with during
the present research.
|1842–||William C. Kendal|
ST. AIDANS', NEWBIGGIN-ON-LUNE.
This church was built and endowed by John Fothergill, esquire,
of Brownber in 1892 and in the year following Newbiggin was formed
into an ecclesiastical parish from Raverstonedale.
Ravenstonedale Grammar School.
In 1668 Thomas Fothergill, born at Brownber and who became
Master of St. John's College, Cambridge, left money for the foundation of a free grammar school here. By deed dated 9 June, 1688,
Abraham Fothergill established it according to the intention of
With the money given by the founders and others three estates
were purchased for the sum of £447, viz, with £140 was purchased 84
acres of land at Blaterne, called Horngill, which the trustees sold in
1703 to Thomas Pattinson of Breeks, subject to a rent charge
thereout of £6 a year. Another estate was purchased at Foxellrigg
in the parish of Sedbergh for £112, which the trustees sold subject to
a rent charge of £5 a year. Another estate was purchased at Bowsfield in the parish of Orton for £195 which remains for the benefit of
the school. There was a further endowment by Thomas lord
Wharton who gave a rent charge of £5 by deed dated 13 August,
1705, payable out of the estate at Raine in Orton.
In 1758 a new school-house and residence were built by subscription. In 1873 the school was reconstituted and new buildings
erected at the cost of Richard Gibson, the upper floor being also used
for public meetings.
There are also schools at Fell End and Newbiggin, both being
built in 1872.
With 14th century windows, was rebuilt in 1664 by George Fothergill. Over the front door are the initials and date G.F., I.F., 1664,
George having married Julian second daughter of Richard Skelton
of Armathwaite. Here lived Sir Thomas Fothergill, standard bearer
to the first lord Wharton, when Lord Warden of the Western March
Crooks Beck, North, in Ravenstonedale Town End.
The bridge takes the Crooks Beck through three small barrel arches.
Rawthey Bridge, over the river Rawthey, between Ravenstonedale
On 20 March, 1584–5, Queen Elizabeth issued a commission to
Robert Tempest and seven other esquires of the counties of York and
Westmorland to enquire about the late fall of Rawthey Bridge and to
take measures for the rebuilding of the same. On 13 April following
Richard Dudley wrote that he could not meet the Commissioners
on the 26th inst. for he had a horse to run that day in the race at
Langwathby. And so the matter rested for a year until the earl of
Huntingdon wrote again to Robert Tempest, on 5 May, 1586, saying
that her majesty's subjects were much troubled for want of repair of
Rawthey Bridge. On 12 September, the Queen and her Council
wrote again to Tempest in which she says that "she marvels at their
negligence in the execution of her former orders concerning the
rebuilding of Rawthey Bridge and straightly commands them to
meet at Sedbergh on the 7th or 8th October in order to take measures
in the matter and make certificate of their proceedings before the
20th of May next. The remains of the abutment of this wooden
bridge can be seen still, but there is no mention as to when stone
arches were thrown across a new site. The new bridge appears upon
the list of public bridges made on 28 April, 1679.
On 2 May, 1709, Quarter Sessions ordered that 4d. in the pound be
assessed and levied for the repairing or rebuilding of the Westmorland
half of the bridge, which ever plan will be found most convenient;
and that such Justices who are pleased to be present do meet at the
house of widow Bousfield in Ravenstonedale the 24 May to contract
with some able and skilful workmen for the purpose. On 10 July,
1733, upon the petition of the inhabitants of Ravenstonedale,
Quarter Sessions ordered the High Constables of the East and West
Wards to view the causey adjoining to Rawthey Bridge and contract
for its necessary repair with some experienced workmen. In 1820
a new bridge with a single arch was built, 80 yards below the old one.
On 11 November, 1913, it was reported that the arch forms a complete
semi-circle, rising 17 feet in a span of 34 feet.
Smardale, over the Scandale Beck.
At the Quarter Sessions held at Appleby on 12 April, 1602, it was
ordered that an assessment of 5d. in the pound should be levied on
the Bottom of Westmorland for the repair of four bridges of which
Smardale was one. On 18 July, 1649, at the Assize held at Appleby,
sixteen bridges were presented as in decay after the Civil War, of
which Smardale was one, when it was ordered that 4s. in the pound
should be assessed and levied upon the whole County towards the
repair of the same. Eighteenpence a year was paid out of the Crosby
Garrett school stock for the repair of this bridge; and in 1662 this
wooden bridge received benefit from £1 left by John Richardson. In
1685 Smardale Bridge was declared to be a "public bridge repairable
by the County."
Stenesceugh over Scandale Beck.
On 16 July, 1745, Quarter Sessions ordered the High Constables
of the East and West Wards to inform themselves whether "Steneshay Bridge" in Ravenstonedale be one of the public bridges of the
County and make a report on 10 August next ensuing to the Justices
who will give such directions as they shall think proper. The report
was that it was a public County bridge, and it appears so on the list
made in 1825. On 5 March, 1891, the bridge was reported as having
a span of 20 feet, a rise of 4 feet 9 inches and a clear 8 feet width of
roadway over it. Neither history or legend can say how it ever
became a bridge repairable by the County seeing that it carries only
The prior of Watton appeared against Thomas son of
Thomas Lambe of Wateby in a plea wherefore with force and arms
he took and carried away turf to the value of 100s. belonging to the
said prior in a several turbary at Ravenstonedale. De Banco Roll,
477, m. 299d.
Ravenstonedale paid a fifteenth in goods as a subsidy to the king,
amounting to 40s. Excheq. Q.R. Miscell. Books, vol. 7.
When Henry VII granted the reversion of the manor to Sir Thomas
Wharton the number of landholders in the dale was 187 and of these
138 held 1020 acres or an average of 7 acres each. The holdings were
small but with the extensive common rights were sufficient to
maintain a family in fair comfort in those days.
Thomas lord Wharton enclosed a large deer park by removing the
tenants within the prescribed area under pressure, and as a feudal
lord was able to do. He compensated them with lands elsewhere
but required them to build a piece of the outside wall in proportion to
the size of the land allocated. The work was begun on the morrow
of Michaelmas Day, 1560, and finished in one year and one month,
November, 1561. The total cost is said to have been £127. 16. 0.
Some parts of this wall, nine feet in height, are said to remain to this
When Christopher Jackson was ejected from the church of Crosby
Garrett for nonconformity he obtained a livelihood upon a little
estate in Ravenstonedale, doubtless as one of lord Wharton's tenants.
Preaching occasionally he laid the foundation of what was popularly
called a Presbyterian but in reality a Congregational Church.
Eventually with the aid of Lord Wharton a chapel was built, but at
what date is not known. In 1693 Philip lord Wharton granted by
his will the sum of £100 for the support of the cause here, the Rev.
Timothy Punshon being the then minister. Punshon was followed
by James Mitchell who was here on 5 April, 1697, when £4 was
allowed him from the Congregational Fund Board. He was buried
here on 15 September, 1712. John Magee followed being ordained
as minister here on 14 April, 1713–14. His appointment, however,
was the occasion for a secession of a portion of the congregation who
were perhaps more inclined to Arianism. Caleb Rotherham
ministered to these secessionists until he removed to Kendal; and he
was followed by James Mallison. John Magee, however, remained
with the principal body till 1732, and his successor "appointed by
the major part of the congregation" on 9 September, 1733, was
James Ritchie. His course of life was no more smooth for after he
had ministered twelve months an attempt was made by the trustees
to remove him from office. In a law suit that followed Ritchie
obtained judgment and the people lost a considerable sum of money.
In early times the Noncomformists were accustomed to attend the
Parish Church as well as their own Meeting house. Dr. Burn says,
"In the old (Parish) Church there was a small bell called the Saints'
bell," which was wont to be rung after the Nicene Creed, to call in the
dissenters to the sermon."
After a time we find James Tetley as minister here from 1767 to
1774; James Somerville, 1775 to 1781; Mr. Smith, 1784 to 1790;
John Hill, 1790 to 1809; James Muscutt, 1811 to 1815; R. H.
Bonner, 1817 to 1835; and William Hasell, 1836 to 1837. Mr.
Hasell, it appears, seceded to the Wesleyans and with him went
a considerable portion of the congregation, for whom the Wesleyan
Chapel was erected in 1839. However in 1837 Mr. Sedgwick was
appointed, Mr. Bryan in 1844, and from 1846 to 1856 W. Mathison
was minister here. Then came the union with Kirkby Stephen until
1863 when they became separate again. The Revs. J. Barnfather,
1863 to 1867; R. Pool, 1868 to 1869; William Nicholls, 1869 to 1883;
W. M. Fell, 1884 to 1887; and C. Illingworth in 1887. Mr. Illingworth was thought so well of as a philanthropist that at the Guild
Hall, York, the Lord Mayor presented him with an address and a
purse containing £150 on his departure for Ravenstonedale. The
Dean of York and Canon Fleming spoke at the meeting, and to the
testimonial the Archbishop of York sent £5, with a request that his
name be added to the list of subscribers.
The Chapel was rebuilt in 1726, and in 1802 the sum of £250 was
spent in removing a cottage which stood in front against the road,
enlarging the burial ground, and building a vestry for Sunday school
1669–72 Hearth Tax Roll
1669–72 Hearth Tax Roll, Lay Subsidy 195, n. 73.
Although the parish is in no form a quadrangle yet the rather
eccentric and happily unique term of "angle" is given to its four
RAVENSTONEDALE TOWN ANGLE.
|Mr. Geo. Fothergill||6|
|Mr. Tho. Fothergill||1|
|Thomas Dodgson, vicar||2|
Seven householders were exempted from paying the tax by
Nine householders were exempted from paying the tax by Certificate.
FELL END ANGLE.
Five householders were exempted from paying the tax by Certificate.
1673 9 July.
William Fothergill of Adamthwaite and Richard Clarkson
were presented to Quarter Sessions for not bringing their children to
the parish church to be baptised. On 10 March, 1674, Edmund
Newby was presented for burying and baptising contrary to the rites
of the Church of England. On 14 April, 1675, Thomas Fawcett was
presented for burying his wife in a field. And on 10 November of the
same year Richard Adamthwaite was likewise presented for burying
his father, William, contrary to the rites of the Church of England.
1676 21 April.
Quarter Sessions ordered that the constable of Ravenstonedale should attach Robert Shaw, Henry Bousfield, Richard
Alderson and Christopher Todd, the former church wardens of
Ravenstonedale, and bring them before the next Justice of the
Peace to enter recognizance for their appearance at the next Quarter
Sessions to be held at Appleby on 8 May next. They were indicted
for failing to deliver a list of all such persons who neglected to attend
their parish church. Either the church wardens were slack in their
duties or else had a fellow feeling towards their nonconforming
1696 25 July.
Matthew Rudd, schoolmaster of "Russendale" signed
the anti-Jacobite "Association" formed throughout the Kingdom
for the protection of William 111.
1705–6 14 January.
John Fawcett of Ravenstonedale, yeo. was indicted
for buying of divers unknown persons one hundred "calfe skins in the
hare," each valued at 1s., contrary to the form of the Statute. He
was fined 16s. 8d.
1710 7 March.
Anthony Robinson of Ravenstonedale, quaker, left by
will to his nephew John Robinson 20s. yearly for life at Midsummer, "£10 at six months and £10 at two years after my decease, and if my
said nephew John Robinson be not content with what I have herein
given him and give disturbance . . . then he shall have no benefit."
To Ralph and John, sons of the nephew John Robinson, he gives the
tenant-right estate at Dovengill in Ravenstonedale, equally divided,
and "the cupboard, great table and dish-bench, allmery and four
bedsteads or bedstocks" . . . To John Perkin his servant he gives
his messuage at Wandale in Ravenstonedale of 3s. ancient rent,
conditionally on his allowing his father and mother to have the mean
profits for three years. Among a large number of monetary bequests
he grants £5 to be added to the poor stock. Dovengill is to be let at
once and the profits put to interest for Ralph and John or to be spent
on their education "and I desire them to provide a book and to enter
therein all receipts and disbursements . . . and I do authorise
Abraham Dent and Godfrey Milner yearly to examine the said
1713 5 October.
On a petition to Quarter Sessions by the people called
Quakers desiring to have a barn in Ravenstonedale for a place of
meeting for religious worship; it appeared to the Court that the same
would be a great disturbance to the church, the place being near
adjoining thereto, and it also appeared that the said people called
Quakers have already a convenient place set apart and licenced in the
parish, it was therefore ordered that the petition be refused.
1727 10 April.
The house of John Parkin is allowed to be a place for
1730–1 11 January.
Upon the petition of the inhabitants of Ravenstonedale complaining that John Hunter doth suffer evil rule and disorder
to be kept in his public house in the said parish, and this Court being
satisfied of the truth, it is therefore ordered that the said John
Hunter shall forthwith surcease and be suppressed from any longer
keeping any ale house or selling of bread and other victuals, beer, ale
or other excisable liquors, with instructions to the constable to
forthwith cause his sign to be pulled down and removed.
1738 2 October.
Presentment that John Parkin being seised of one close
commonly called the Meeting House garth in Ravenstonedale did
peacefully and quietly continue his possession of the same until James
Ritchie of Ravenstonedale, John Miller of Asfell, Christopher Bousfield of Bowderdale and many others did on 20 August with force and
arms that is to say with staves, swords, files and gravelocks enter the
said close and with strong hands and armed power did drive out and
remove the said John Parkin from his possession and have with power
kept him out to this day against the peace of our sovereign lord the
1745–6. 3 March.
The managers of the Presbyterian Fund "agreed that
the allowance formerly made to Crook be granted to Mr. John
Blackburn at Russendale from Midsummer last till the congregation
at Crook revives.
1747 18 April.
During the cattle distemper Thomas Fawcett of Weesdal
in Ravenstonedale received a certificate to drive certain cattle to K.
Stephen for sale which had been for two months entirely free from
infection or distemper. The Certificate was attested by Robert
Mounsey, curate at Ravenstonedale. Kendal Notes and Queries,
1759 28 May.
Philip Handley of Nathwaite, Ravenstonedale, in his will
bequeathed £20 to Simon and John Alderson to be used for "the
members of the Quaker's Meeting, so called, in Ravenstonedale."
"To my nephew Isaac, son of John Handley my estate of tenant
right at Nathwaite which was devised to me by my eldest brother
1764 30 April.
Presentment that Thomas and William Elliotson with
force and arms did obstruct and block up a certain ancient water
course adjoining the King's highway between the market towns of
Orton and K. Stephen with gravels and other materials, by reason
whereof the rain and waters that were wont to flow down the said
course did and do overflow and remain in the King s highway to its
great hurt. Also that Thomas Elliotson, by reason of his tenure of
adjoining lands, ought to repair and maintain a certain ancient
Foot Bridge, called Bootherdale leading from the town of Ravenstonedale to the market town of Orton, it being 20 feet in length and
3 feet in breadth and in great decay for want of reparation.
1777 28 June.
Isaac Handley of Nathwaite left by his will to his son
Thomas his estate called Wandall to have and to hold according to
the custom of the manor of Ravenstonedale; also all his tithes of
corn, grain, hay, wool, lambs, calves, foals, bees, etc. To his youngest
son Joseph he left his estate called Howgill, consisting of Fall, Fall
Parrock, Backside and Great Intake and tithes, etc. "To my
brother Edward Smith of Townhead, cordwainer, the Building or
Meeting House at Street, with a garth or burying place at Dovengill
Lane Head, also a garth or burying place at Wath and tithes, etc.
Dr. Thomas Gibson says, "Close by the road to Sedbergh, at Fell
End, is what appears to be a compound of old school-houses and barn,
but a portion of which is really an ancient Friends' Meeting-house.
Just within the gate, to the left on entrance, without memorial-stone
or anything to mark the spot, lie the remains of several Friends who
have been interred here. It is a lonely neglected place." This
must refer to the Meeting-house at Street above referred to.
1796 26 November.
For the provision of soldiers to serve in the army,
the parish of Ravenstonedale together with the Townships of
Wharton, Nateby and Hartley, having 204 inhabited houses had to
provide four men.
1839 3 July.
Indenture made between Annie Brunskill and Isabel
Brunskill, both of Ravenstonedale, spinsters, of the one part, and
William Batty and many others of the second part. Witnesses that
for 5s. the said Anne and Isabel Brunskill have sold to those of the
second part, all that freehold barn with ground behind at Ravenstonedale, bounded on the north by the village street, on the south by lands
of William Batty, on the east by Miss Hodgson's barn and on the
west by the waste; for one year at a pepper corn rent.
On the following day the same parties, with the addition of the
Rev. Abel Dernaley of Appleby, Superintendant Preacher of the
Circuit, as of the third part, made Indenture that for £27. 10. o the
said Misses Brunskill sold to those of the second part, all the ground
as described above for the building of a Chapel for the use of the
Wesleyan Methodists. Close Roll, 12231, pt. 199, n. 10, 11.
The Wesleyan Chapel at Fell End was built in this year.