Borrowdale, Cumberland Family History Guide

Borrowdale is an Ecclesiastical Parish in the county of Cumberland, created in 1743 from 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

Adjacent Parishes

  • St John's in the Vale
  • Eskdale
  • Buttermere
  • Millom
  • Ennerdale
  • Newlands
  • Wasdale Head
  • Crosthwaite
  • Langdale

Historical Descriptions

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].


Vision of Britain historical maps


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