Township in Hawkshead parish, Lonsdale hundred, Lancashire North of the Sands.


4,457 acres [1,804 ha], including 1,500 acres [607 ha] of common land, enclosed 1799. Township contained two divisions: Upper Claife (Wray area): 2,077 acres [841 ha]; and Lower Claife (containing Near and Far Sawrey): 2,501 acres [101 ha].


rising from under 400 in early 19th century to 563 in 1901 (peak: 627 in 1891); then falling across 20th century to stand at 298 in 2011.


part of Furness Abbey’s estate in Furness Fells. Curwen family of Workington held extensive estate on Claife Heights by early 19th century. James Dawson, Liverpool surgeon, built Wray Castle 1840-7.


farming and woodland industries, particularly charcoal burning. Iron smelting at Cunsey forge from 1618; bloomery forge superseded by blast furnace 1711-12; closed 1750. Tourism increasingly important from 18th century; Claife was western terminus of Windermere ferry with viewing station nearby.

Places of worship:

church of St Margaret of Antioch, Low Wray, said to have been built 1845 (porch sundial dated 1856). St Peter’s Church, Far Sawrey, built 1866-72. Quaker burial ground at Colthouse from 1658; Quaker meeting house built nearby 1688; extended 1978; still in use.

Schools and other institutions:

school at Far Sawrey founded 1775; closed 1971; now used as village hall (‘Braithwaite Hall’). School at High Wray built early 1840s; closed 1931; now village hall. Claife poor house, beside Esthwaite Water on boundary between the two divisions, mid-19th century. Sawrey Institute, opened as reading room 1884.