Category Archives: Cartmel

Dr Alan Crosby – Cartmel Parish in a changing world 1550 to 1800: 5 March 2020


The changing world from the reformation and dissolution of the monasteries to the beginning of the 19th century was described through the superb maps available for the Peninsula, from the County Palatine Map of Christopher Saxton in 1577 to the first OS map in 1850. Saxton’s map was decorative, and attempted to show topography. The coastline was taken at low tide, indicating the sands crossing route. At that time there was little woodland in our area, in contrast to the extensive woodland to the north where there was a charcoal industry. Subsequent maps for a while tended to copy Saxton, eg John Speed. Around 1665, John Bleau published a map in Amsterdam, with some peculiar spelling eg Flokesbarro, and with the locations of Cart Lane Village, Gowborn Head (Humphrey Head), Waysholm towre, Wynder, Howker and Hamfeld Hall.


Yates’s 1786 prize-winning map is the first ‘proper’ map (1” to the mile). It was more effective in showing different aspects of the landscape (mosses, small patches of woodland and enclosures) and the townships with Cartmel, the market town, at the centre. Sponsors were named eg John Wilkinson’s improved moss. Even by this time Cartmel was still relatively cut off, until the turnpike road and railway were completed by the middle of the 19th century.


Richard Keurden produced very detailed maps in 1684 of the main routes in Lancashire, including the area north of the sands which were never printed or published. His survey of the main roads showed properties and distances in furlongs. Alan showed the map from Sandgate and Flookburgh to Allithwaite past Utterthwaite Hall.


The importance of Cartmel for travellers and as a market town was demonstrated in a survey by the War Office in 1686 of guest beds and stables, Cartmel being the 12th in the ranking for Lancashire with 26 guest bed and 57 stable places, ahead of Ulverston in 17th place.


The relative importance between Flookburgh and Cartmel Markets was discussed. It is known that William Marshall prescribed Cartmel for markets in 1292, Flookburgh’s charter was originally granted in 1412 and regranted for a second time in 1663, but still it appears that it was unsuccessful. There were disputes between the two settlements, the claim of Churchtown in 1690 of weekly markets beyond the memory of man was disputed by the residents of Flookburgh. Similarly, in 1721, Flookburgh claimed market affairs were held since time began! In 1725 the Bishop of Chester reported that Flookburgh had neither maintained a market or fair. In 1731, Sir Thomas Lowther granted Cartmel its only market charter.


Alan showed Paul Hindle’s map of developing routes, including the cross sands route and the turnpike road up to Kendale and across to Crosthwaite and down to Newby Bridge. Despite the turnpike route being safer the dangerous cross sands route remained well used because it was shorter and importantly it was free.


In the 18th century, industry started to appear on maps, eg on Yates’s map, there were details of the extensive iron works and other industries at Backbarrow. Alan showed an Indenture dated 1709 from Elizabeth Preston to Maychell for charcoal fired forges at Cartmel and Backbarrow and the right to explore for iron ore for a yearly rent of £28. She agreed to supply 300 loads of charcoal to Maychell. This was a renewal of the first agreement dated 1691. Iron Ore was not found in quantity in the Peninsula which saved the area’s landscape. In 1796, at the time of the enclosures the new land owners were granted mineral rights as an encouragement for the tenants to occupy the poorest land.

Alan concluded by showing a plan of the sea embankments of 1797, 1807 and 1828, and his lovely map showing the original coastline before the establishment and drainage of the marshes overlaid onto a modern map. Notably Humphrey head was an island! And then he presented data from the Agriculture Board Returns of crops showing a time-honoured diet (in acres): Oats 1586, Barley 659, Wheat 382, Potatoes 167, Rape 58, Peas 23 & Beans 7 from a total of 8000 acres.

Phil Rowland March 2020


Dr Kuerden’s Map by Dr Bill Shannon


Despite the wet weather there was a good turnout for the fascinating talk by Dr Bill Shannon on Dr Kuerden’s 1685 map, and other early maps of the Cartmel Peninsula in September 2017 . The history of mapping in the area included the 1025-1050 Anglo Saxon Map, 1410 Gough Map and the first printed map in 1540.   Dr Kuerden (1623- 1702) was a medical doctor from Cuerden near Leyland who developed an interest in history and surveying.  He collaborated with Christopher Towneley in compiling material and had ambitious plans to produce a 5 volume History of Lancashire. Eleven volumes of his manuscripts including 84 maps were discovered in the 1950’s in Towneley Hall.  The maps include detailed surveys of roads (including buildings, notable inhabitants and roadside features like shrubs and walls) on the southern part of Cartmel Peninsula and a survey of the boundary of Cartmel Parish.  Unfortunately Dr Kuerden died without publishing any of his materials. However Dr Shannon intends to publish a book about Dr Kuerden and his research.

Lyn Prescott

Following Bill’s talk I looked for the Houseman family in Cartmel as Bill had mentioned that Widow Houseman’s was where Dr Kuerden lodged whilst surveying the Cartmel Peninsula. Widow Houseman may have been married to John who died in 1661. His will described him as living at Cartmel. The only entries in the Parish Register (online records start in 1664) for the Houseman family of Cartmel are between 1664 and 1673. Ellin, a daughter, was buried in 1664, Jane Houseman was married in 1671 and Elizabeth Houseman was married in 1673. Houseman is a common name in the Warton, Lancaster area and the family may have originated from there.

Pat Rowland

See also his research paper:

The landscape and people of the Cartmel Peninsula in 1685: the Keuden &Townley maps. Transactions C&WAAS CW3, 18, 2018, 201-222.


Rocks, Lake and Early History (of Cartmel)

Ken Howarth gave a very informative talk to a full room of people on the very early history of Cartmel.  He linked the geology of the area to the local history.  He referred to two booklets on the subject written by Murray Mitchell.

An explanation of the geology of the area included a description of the hard Bannisdale rock, the carboniferous limestone which surrounds the area and the glacial period which has left the area with numerous drumlins and pools.  The stone in the drumlins had been used to build local stone walls and the Priory was built on an outcrop of Bannisdale rock surrounded by the lakes left by the glacier.  Through his slides Ken pointed out the edges of the lakes in Cartmel which can still be seen today.

Ken then showed how fossils found in the sandstone used to build the Priory proved that the stone came from a quarry near Holker and Cark, called Quarry Flat.   Ken thinks that the quarry was much bigger than it is today as the stone probably extended beyond the railway.   Ken illustrated his talk with excellent slides.

A Soldier of the Great War by Howard Martin, May 2015

A Soldier of the Great War

The May meeting, delayed by one week because of the General Election, welcomed back Howard Martin to give a second lecture on the Great War. His subject this time was the story of Geoffrey Hardy, a soldier whose name is on the Cartmel War Memorial. Geoffrey, a Quaker, was born in Banbury and he married into a local Quaker family thus giving him a connection to Cartmel. He married Mabel Isaac, the grand-daughter of W R Nash of Pit Farm, Cartmel and The Mount, Cark on 5 March 1916 whilst on 44 hours’ leave. Howard’s research uncovered information about Geoffrey’s early life and his military career. He joined the West Yorkshire Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade and was involved in the battle for Bullecourt between April and May 1917. Many of his letters home were quoted. He survived the battles but died from wounds inflicted when ammunition exploded in a fire involving a howitzer. He died on 27 May 1917 aged 27.

Pat Rowland

Cartmel War Memorials by Howard Martin. 1st May 2014.

The packed May meeting was addressed by local Great War expert Howard Martin who told us about the Cartmel Valley men who died during the conflict, including a couple who died in accidents before they left this country and the only naval death which occurred off the coast of Chile when a ship was sunk. The talk, well illustrated with pictures of the soldiers, their residences and their graves or memorials also covered the battles and places where they had died. The dead included boys and men from all parts of the community. Howard shared his knowledge of some of the families involved, having spoken to relatives and people who knew them. He has visited the battlefields and showed us some souvenirs he has collected. His passion for the subject was evident. The talk finished with information and pictures of different types of memorials in the district.

Pat Rowland

Monasteries and their influence in North Lancashire and South Cumbria by Dr Alan Crosby. 4th September 2014.

Dr Crosby considered why the monastic system in Lancashire and Cumbria was valued and why Catholicism remained strong in the area after the Reformation.

By the 13th century, many monasteries had become very wealthy with strong international links. They were increasingly viewed as decadent and with over lavish churches and accommodation. They were also seen as being hand in glove with the church establishment and remote from the ordinary people. Many of the monks in establishments in the south of England were drawn from wealthy families with weak local links. There were relatively few establishments in the NW and, in contrast to those elsewhere , many of the monks had strong local links. Thus, they had local names, often based on local place names.

Most monks were also relatively young in the NW establishments. For example, in 1542, all but one of the Cartmel canons were between 25 and 41. The ages suggest that these monasteries were still recruiting shortly before the dissolution. Again, the names suggest local recruitment.

The monasteries in the NW were relatively small with between 9 and 30 monks plus their servants and farm labourers. Thus, Cartmel had 10 canons with 10 waiting servants, 19 household and estate officials and 8 farm labourers.  Some southern houses had more than one waiting servant per monk.

The monasteries had a great influence on their local neighbourhood. They provided employment and benefitted local businesses through supply and transport of goods, accommodation for visitors, and employment for craftsmen. Local gentlemen could also raise their status through patronage.

Prior to the dissolution the Commissioners assessed the wealth of the establishments but also the morals of the monks and canons; the latter in an attempt to blacken the reputation of the houses. The enquiries showed a relative low level of misdemeanours in the NW houses. The enquiries also looked at the level of charitable giving by the houses and those in the NW were shown to have a considerably higher level of charitable giving then the national average.

The local links, the charitable giving, the local benefits and the relatively parsimonious and moral life of the monks engender the support of the local population.

In 1536, as the monastic establishments were being closed, the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ opposed the closures. The establishments in Lancashire and Cumbria supported or were sympathetic to the movement but ,eventually the establishments were forceably closed. Some of the monks were punished  but others accepted retirement and took up positions in the protestant church in area around their former monastery/priory.