KESWICK: a township in Crosthwaite parish, Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland (including Briery Cottages).

The township of Keswick became a Local Government District in 1853 and an urban district with three wards in 1894, reflecting growth in the later 19th century. Moving the northern boundary from the Greta to the railway, taking in Great Crosthwaite, was the most significant change among gains of extra-parochial Briery Cottages (included in this Jubilee Digest), part of Underskiddaw and, by 1899, net gains from St John’s, Castlerigg & Wythburn CP. In 1934 more of that CP was transferred. In 1974 the urban district was abolished in favour of Keswick Town Council, within Allerdale BC.

Acreage of administrative unit: 

Keswick township covered 728 acres [295 ha]; including the town, Derwent Isle, 185 acres [75 ha] of Derwentwater and a detached portion of eleven acres [4.5 ha] at White Moss. Briery Cottages, also known as Greta Mills, contained 46 acres [19 ha]. By 1899 the urban district contained 1166 acres [472 ha], and in 1934 it gained a net 107 acres [43 ha] from St John’s, Castlerigg & Wythburn CP.

Date of Enclosure: 

The commons of the manor of Castlerigg and Derwentwater were enclosed in 1849, that part in Keswick township containing c.70 acres [28ha] at Town Cass and Chestnut Hill.


The total population of Keswick, Underskiddaw, Castlerigg and Borrowdale was estimated at 945 in 1688, with Keswick the major settlement but declining after the closure of the Mines Royal. By 1793 the township population had grown with picturesque tourism to 1093. Population doubled from 1350 in 1801 to 2618 in 1851, but further growth awaited sanitation and the railway service. The township population was 3760 in 1891, and the urban district grew little, from 4451 in 1901 to 4984 in 2001. Briery Cottages had a population of 97 in 1891, before inclusion in Keswick urban district.

Land ownership: 

Excluding Derwent Isle, the township was within manor of Castlerigg and Derwentwater. The existence of the town is confirmed only by its charter in 1276, granted to the lord of the manor, Thomas de Derwentwater. This manor had been granted by Alice de Rumelli to Adam de Derwentwater before 1216, and subsequesntly passed to the Radcliffes, seated at Dilston, Northumberland, through marriage to Elizabeth de Derwentwater c.1417. The Derwentwater estate was forfeit to the crown after the execution of James Radcliffe, second earl of Derwentwater, in 1716 for his part in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. In 1735 the rents and profits were applied to support the Royal Greenwich Hospital for Seamen. Most of the burgage properties in the town, and land to the east, were held either by freeholders or by customary tenants, who were offered enfranchisement in 1831. Land to the south and west were in the Hospital’s freehold estate of woodland and leased farmland. The manor and Keswick estate was sold to the Marshall family in 1832. The National Trust acquired 90 acres of land in this estate, including the foreshore woodland, from Sir John Randles in 1925.

Derwent Isle, the island of Hestholm, later known as Vicar Island, was also granted by Alice de Rumelli before 1216, but to Fountains Abbey, who held it until the dissolution. In 1778, after several other ownerships, Joseph Pocklington purchased it to create Pocklington’s Island. Lt Col William Peachy purchased in 1794, re-named it Derwent Isle, and his successors sold to H C Marshall in 1844. Denis Marshall gave Derwent Isle to the National Trust in 1951.

Economic activity: 

For economic activity, places of worship and other institutions, see:


Additional sources used: 

 Whitehaven News, 5 Oct 2006, Keswick Factsheet, LDNPA; Roger Asquith, ‘The characters and events that shaped Keswick’s pencil industry’, L&DFLHS Journal, No.47, Feb 2011; Garnett, Keswick and its neighbourhood, 1852;  George Bott, Keswick: the story of a lake district town; Jollies Cumberland directory and guide, 1811; Kelly’s Cumberland Directory, 1938; Elizabeth Battrick, Guardian of the lakes; W G Collingwood, ‘Thirteenth Century Keswick’, CW2, 1921 pp.159-173; TNA:PRO/ADM; Parliamentary Papers, session 1835 (62) Education enquiry. Abstract of the answers and returns made pursuant to an address of the House of Commons, dated 24th May 1833;;.

Compiled by: Derek Denman, Keswick History Group (Revised August 2012)


How were these summaries compiled for Cumberland?


Other Websites


Keswick on Vision of Britain


Images and maps on Old Cumbria Gazetteer


Specific to this township:


Some history on Tourism Guide


The History of the Museum, Gallery & Collections


Countywide Web Sites


this link gives a schedule of many Cumbria-specific sites, which cover several Cumbrian townships; each would need to be opened and searched using the FIND facility to see if any reference is made to this township..


Outcounty Web Sites


this link gives a schedule of many national sites, which contain information about Cumbrian history; each would need to be opened and searched using the FIND facility to see if any reference is made to this township.


Other Resources


Historical buildings in this township


Map of Keswick (1900)


Keswick St John History and Clergy


Crossthwaite Clergy



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