URSWICK: a parish in North Lonsdale hundred, Lancashire, comprising the three townships of Bardsea, Great Urswick and Little Urswick (itself divided into three subdivisions).

Acreage of administrative unit

the parish contained 3905 acres [1561 ha], divided between the townships as follows: Bardsea: 828 acres [331 ha]; Great Urswick: 1232 acres [493 ha]; Little Urswick: 1845 acres [738 ha].  The three subdivisions of Little Urswick were: Little Urswick (621 acres [248 ha]); Bolton with Adgarley (688 acres [275 ha] and Stainton (536 acres [214 ha]).

Date of Enclosure

Skelding Moor, a 90-acre [36-ha] common in Little Urswick and Scales was enclosed by an act of 1820.  Urswick parish also had rights, in common with the neighbouring parish of Aldingham, on Birkrigg Common (276 acres [110 ha]).


The population of the parish rose from 633 in 1801 to peak at 1287 in 1881, after which it remained fairly level until 1961 (the last census in which the parish was enumerated separately), when it stood at 1128.

Land ownership

part of the manor of Aldingham or Muchland, granted by Henry I in 1107-1111 to Michael Le Fleming, who also obtained Bardsea in an exchange with Furness Abbey in 1127. The manor of Muchland passed by marriage to the Harrington family soon after 1300 and to the Greys in the late 15th century, reverting to the crown on the attainder of Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk, in 1553. By the 20th century it was held in trust for the crown by the Duke of Buccleuch. Bolton with Adgarley, part of the original manor of Muchland, passed by marriage into the Coupland family and was eventually forfeited by Sir Thomas Broughton in 1487. It was then granted to the first Earl of Derby, and descended with the earls of Derby into the 20th century.

Economic activity

largely agricultural. Short-lived iron ore mining at Stainton in 19th century; limestone quarries at Stainton opened in 1868 to service the new ironworks at Barrow; continues in production.  The settlements in the parish are now mainly dormitory villages for Barrow and Ulverston.

Places of worship

medieval parish church of St Mary and St Michael; surviving pre-Conquest sculpture indicates an early origin.  Holy Trinity church, Bardsea (Anglican), built 1843.  Congregational chapel (iron building) at Stainton opened 1873; replaced by a new building in Long Lane 1902; closed 1951; used as a recreation hall since 1953. United Reformed Church opened 1914; still in use.


Urswick Grammar School, founded by a bequest of William Marshall in 1585.  Endowed school at Bardsea, founded 1781; replaced by a new school, erected 1851 and enlarged 1897. Stainton Mixed School opened 1904. In 20th century the schools at Bardsea and Stainton closed.  Urswick Grammar Church of England School s became a primary school in the 1960s.  New school, Low Furness Church of England Primary School, opened 1994, replacing the old Grammar School and two other primary schools in the parish of Aldingham.  Stainton and Bardsea School buildings are now used as village halls.

Additional sources used

Barnes, F., Barrow and District (2nd edn. Barrow-in-Furness: Barrow-in-Furness Corporation, 1968); Marshall, J.D., Furness and the Industrial Revolution (Barrow-in-Furness: Barrow-in-Furness Library and Museum Committee, 1958).

Compiled by:  Alan Smith