Borrowdale is an Ecclesiastical Parish in the county of Cumberland, created in 1743 from a chapelry in Crosthwaite Ancient Parish.

Other places in the parish include: Rosthwaite Grange, Seathwaite, Stonethwaite, and Borrowdale Haws.

Alternative names:

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1775
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1775

Nonconformists include: Wesleyan Methodist

Table of Contents

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

Rosthwaite Borrowdale 1900

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BORROWDALE, a chapelry and a vale in Crosthwaite parish, Cumberland. The chapelry lies 7 miles S by W of Keswick r. station, and 14 NW of Windermere; and contains the hamlet of Rosthwaite, which has a post-office under Windermere. Real property, £2,699. Pop., 422. Houses, 85.

The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of Carlisle. Value, £90. Patron, the Vicar of Crosthwaite. The church stands near Rosthwaite, and was rebuilt in 1824. Another church, of recent erection, stands at Grange, and is served by a p. curate with salary of £30, appointed by Miss Heathcote. There are dissenting chapels at Rosthwaite and Grange.

The vale commences in three heads, Stonethwaite, Seathwaite, and Borrowdale-Haws, coming down from the mountain passes out of Langdale, Wastdale, and Buttermere; is overhung, at the convergence of these, by the massive mountain range of Glaramara; and descends thence, between lofty flanks, northward to the head of Derwent water.

The low grounds or bottoms of it have much diversity of width and contour, but comprise about 2,000 acres of good land, chiefly disposed in pasture. “The mountains and hills around it have many outlines of base, form, and summit, but generally are so bold in character, so cloven with ravines, and so strikingly grouped together, as to form a series of imposing pictures.

The depressions among them vary from gorge to glen, and from rocky mountain defile to green cultivated valley; and the lower parts, both bottom and slope, show much diversity of breadth and colour, rock and wood, wild nature and ornate culture.” The draining stream is called sometimes Borrowdale beck, sometimes Derwent river; and is the chief feeder of Derwent water.

Castle-Crag, a lofty, wooded, and almost isolated eminence adjoining the stream near the foot, commands a glorious view of all the vale; was the site of successsively a Roman camp, a Saxon fortalice, and a monastic castle, to command the pass toward the mountains; and has yielded Roman relics, which are preserved in Keswick museum.

The Bowder stone, at the foot of a precipice, opposite Castle-Crag, is a mass of fallen rock, 62 feet long, 36 feet high, and 84 feet in circumference, with outline resembling that of a ship upon its keel, and sung by Wordsworth. The Black Lead Mine mountain, on a flank of the Seathwaite head-vale, rises to the height of about 2,000 feet, and is famous for a plumbago mine and a group of yew trees.

The mine occurs about midway up its ascent; ceased recently to be worked, after having been worked for upwards of two centuries; is the only plumbago mine in England; and sent all its produce to London. The yew trees are lower than the mine, our in number, very old, amid a sheet of copsewood. Wordsworth, after noting a famous yew in Lorton, says,-

Worthier still of note
Are those fraternal four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove.
Huge trunks!-beneath whose sable-roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, deck’d
With unrejoicing berries, ghostly shapes
May meet at noontide,-Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight, Death the skeleton,
And Time the shadow,-there to celebrate,
As in a natural temple, scatter’d o’er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara’s inmost caves.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Seathwaite Farm Neat Sty Head Pass Borrowdale 1900s

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

BORROWDALE, a chapelry, in the parish of Crosthwaite, union of Cockermouth, Allerdale ward above Derwent, W. division of Cumberland, 6 miles (S. by W.) from Keswick; containing 369 inhabitants.

The romantic scenery of this district has elicited deserved eulogy from numerous tourists. The Bowder stone, situated in the vale, is esteemed the largest detached piece of rock, entitled to the denomination of a single stone, in England; it is 62 feet in length, and 84 in circumference, and contains about 23,090 feet of solid stone, weighing upwards of 1771 tons: the upper part projects considerably over the small base on which it rests, and it is not unusual for parties of pleasure to regale under it.

The celebrated black-lead, or wad, mine of Borrowdale, is about nine miles from Keswick, near the head of the valley, in the steep side of a mountain facing the south-east. The lead is found in lumps or nodules, varying in weight from 1oz. to 50lb., imbedded in the matrix; and the finer sort is packed in barrels, sent to London, and deposited in the warehouse belonging to the proprietors of the mine, where it is exposed for sale to the pencil-makers on the first Monday in every month: that of an inferior description is chiefly used in the composition of crucibles, in giving a black polish to articles of cast-iron, and in various anti-attrition compositions.

Black-lead is found in various parts of the world, but in none to so great an extent, and of the same degree of purity, as here: an inferior kind has been discovered in the shires of Ayr and Inverness, in Scotland, but it is unfit for pencils. Here are also several quarries of blue slate: a copper-mine was formerly worked; and lead-ore exists to a limited extent in the mountain.

A soft paleish substance, commonly called Borrowdale soap, is found, which, having undergone a chymical process, similar to that by which the black-lead is hardened, is used for slate pencils.

A fair for sheep is held on the first Wednesday in September.

The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £80; patron, the Vicar of Crosthwaite. The chapel was rebuilt a few years since. On the summit of Castle Crag, a conical hill covered with wood, are vestiges of a military work. Near a lake at the lower extremity of the dale is a salt-spring, the water of which is of a quality somewhat similar to that of Cheltenham.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog

Census returns for Borrowdale, 1841-1891

Bishop’s transcripts for Borrowdale, 1775-1870

Parish registers for Borrowdale, 1775-1978

Computer printout of Borrowdale, Cumb., Eng

Parish register printouts of Borrowdale, Cumberland, England, christenings, 1775-1870


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  • County: Cumberland
  • Civil Registration District: Cockermouth
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Carlisle (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Carlisle
  • Rural Deanery: Allerdale
  • Poor Law Union: Cockermouth
  • Hundred: Allerdale above Derwent Ward
  • Province: York

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