St John's Castlerigg & Wythburn

Township in Crosthwaite parish, Allerdale below Derwent ward, Cumberland. CP lost territory to Keswick 1894-9 and 1934.


19,699 acres [7,972 ha] before boundary changes, reducing to 19,589 acres [7,928 ha] after creation of Keswick CP. Further exchanges with Keswick 1934 resulted in net loss of further 107 acres [43 ha]. Township contained c.7,000 acres [2,833 ha] of common land on fells in manor of Castlerigg and Derwentwater, enclosed 1849. Similar acreage of fell commons remains unenclosed in Wythburn.


in range 550-650 for most of 19th century, surging to 1,650 in 1891, when Thirlmere reservoir under construction. Decline across 20th century (partly reflecting loss of territory to Keswick CP), standing at 407 in 2001.


contained major part of three manors: for manor of Castlerigg & Derwentwater, see Keswick. Manor of Wythburn was held by Brathwaites of Warcop in 17th century and sold to George Fletcher of Hutton-in-the-Forest, descending to Fletcher-Vanes. Manor of Legburthwaite was held by Leathes family until late 1870s, when family’s Dalehead estate was sold to Manchester Corporation for Thirlmere reservoir scheme.


predominantly hill farming. Forestry developed on Derwentwater estate in Castlerigg in 18th century and around Thirlmere reservoir, supplying Manchester from 1894, in late 19th and 20th centuries. Tourism grew in importance from late 18th century. For Threlkeld granite quarry (which lay in this township), see Threlkeld.

Places of worship:

township comprised two chapelries of St John’s-in-the-Vale and Wythburn. Both chapels of ease recorded 1554; St John’s rebuilt 1845; Wythburn rebuilt 1640 and again 1740, with chancel added 1872.

Schools and other institutions:

school beside chapel at St John’s by 1814; rebuilt 1848; closed 1948 (now diocesan youth centre). School attached to Wythburn chapel by 1833; closed 1937. Thirlmere Recreation Hall, Legburthwaite, opened 1942 (building had formerly been mission church for construction workers at Haweswater).