SEDBERGH:  township and focus of an ancient parish in Ewecross wapentake, West Riding of Yorkshire.

Acreage of administrative unit

The township of Sedbergh contained 19,603 acres [7933 ha], divided between four subdivisions: Howgill & Bland (5443 acres [2203 ha]); Frostrow & Soolbank (3492 acres [1413 ha]); Marthwaite (2570 acres [1040 ha]); and Cautley & Dowbiggin (8297 acres [3358 ha]).  Much of the township comprised rough fell land: over 15,000 acres [6100 ha] survives as registered common land, the largest commons being Brant Fell (6758 acres [2735 ha] and Bluecaster Fell (7556 acres [3060 ha], which is partly in Garsdale CP).                            


1639 in 1801, rising to 2346 in 1861 when the Ingleton Branch railway was being built.  Since 1961 the usually resident population has stayed at just over 2200. In 2001 it was 2705 including Sedbergh School .

Land ownership

At the Norman conquest the manor was held by Tostig and soon after Domesday was held by the de Mowbray family.  Later the manor was split into about six parts.  In 1601 the two major manors were united by the Stricklands who held them for around three hundred years until they were sold to John Upton.  The Uptons of Ingmire Hall had bought up land in Sedbergh from the second half of the eighteenth century onwards.  When the Ingmire estate was finally broken up in 1928 this manor was effectively split into parts.

Economic activity

At least seven mills with three surviving until after WWII during which they were put to military use.  Birks 1790, cotton, woollen, bobbin, egg packing and now a food depot.  Millthrop 1796, cotton, horse blankets, burnt down in 1967 and now private housing.  Farfield 1837, woollen, horse blankets, tweeds and now an arts and heritage centre.  Earlier, hand knitting had been an important activity with some hand loom weaving.  Sedbergh Turnpike Trust 1761. Mines and quarries for extracting roof slabs, Silurian “Blue Rag” stone and limestone.  Employment also provided by the railway 1861, gas works 1851 and an electric power station.   Now a Book Town with tourism and agriculture currently the major industries and with Sedbergh School the major employer.  Market charters 1254 and 1526. Cattle fairs then a cattle market all of which have ceased.

Places of worship

Medieval parish church of St Andrews Church dating from 12th century; chapel of ease at Howgill, 1685, succeeded by Holy Trinity 1838; St Marks Church, Cautley 1847.  St Gregory Vale of Lune built as a private chapel 1861, consecrated 1918, closed 1984. Sedbergh School Chapel 1890, rebuilt 1897. Society of Friends meeting house at Brigflatts 1675. Wesleyan Methodist chapels in Sedbergh 1805, built on new site 1865 and 1914, in Cautley 1845 and in Frostrow 1886. Primitive Methodist Chapel in Millthrop 1889-1993. Independent Chapel 1821 built on new site 1828 and enlarged 1872 now United Reformed Church.  Roman Catholic Chapel in Millthrop 1956-1975, since then sharing St Andrews.


Sedbergh School founded 1525 as a Free Grammar School combined with a chantry, became Free Grammar School of King Edward VI in 1551 then given a new scheme in 1874, now also includes a junior school.  National School 1842, British School 1843 and these became Sedbergh Primary School 1967. Sedbergh Secondary Modern School 1949 which became Settlebeck High School, a comprehensive school, in 1980. Baliol Girls School 1900-1932, later became various types of special school.  By eighteenth century there were local schools in Sedbergh, Cautley and Howgill. Dames schools including one run by Julia Green converted to a prep school 1897-1938.

Almshouses founded by Thomas Palmer 1848, Reading Room and Market House given by Rev J.H. Evans 1858, Book Club 1728 and 1782, Public Hall 1865 later became a cinema, Peoples Hall 1956, Police Station 1864, Workhouse 1732, Sedbergh Union Workhouse 1854, Queens Gardens 1902, Cemetery 1890, Community Office 1995.

Additional sources used

Sedbergh & District History Society archive.

Compiled by:  members of Sedbergh & District History Society.