Kirkoswald and Renwick Book [news]

Detail from book cover image of Kirkoswald Castle


Kirkoswald and Renwick is the first parish history to be produced by the Cumbria County History Trust in collaboration with Lancaster University for the Victoria County History of Cumberland. 

The modern civil parish of Kirkoswald covers 30 square miles of agricultural land and moorland, lying between the River Eden and the Pennine heights, on the western edge of the North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Kirkoswald township, anciently a market and small industrial centre, lies nine miles north east of Penrith. Until 1566 Kirkoswald Castle was the principal seat of the powerful Barons Dacre of the North whose massive landholdings extended over many counties. In 1523 Lord Thomas Dacre translated St Oswald's church, a pre-conquest foundation for which the village is named, to collegiate status, and after the Reformation the College became a gentleman's residence, acquired in 1611 by the Fetherstonhaugh family whose home it still is after 400 years and 11 generations of descent.

The economy, largely dependant on agriculture, benefited for 600 years from Kirkoswald's role as a market and business centre, with some manufacturing (textiles, paper and timber) powered by the waters of the Raven Beck. From 1631 (or earlier) to about 1850 there was coal mining and lime-burning on the Pennine Edge. In the 21st century the parish remains an unspoilt and beautiful corner of England, home to some 30 farms specialising in animal husbandry, and many retired people and men and women working at home or in Penrith and Carlisle.

To purchase a copy, priced £12 + £3 p&p, please visit Lancaster University's online store


About the Author

Richard Brockington, a former solicitor, studied history with the Open University in the 1990s.  In 2002 he moved to Renwick and began his own local research. In 2006 he was elected chair of the Cumbria Local History Federation (CLHF); in 2007 he began external studies at Lancaster University for their Diploma in Local and Regional History; in 2008 his first article (The Riders of Renwick) was published in The Local Historian, and he joined a working group to consider restarting VCH studies in Cumbria. When the Cumbria County History Trust (CCHT) was created in 2009, Richard was acting chair for a year, and continued thereafter as secretary for four years (he is still a trustee representing the CLHF). For his work in helping to create the Trust he was awarded a personal achievement award by the British Association of Local History in 2015.

His article on Renwick was posted on the CCHT website in 2012, and was followed by articles on Kirkoswald (2015) and Staffield (2016). During 2017 he worked on amalgamating the three articles into this book; and he has now joined a team researching the adjoining townships of Ainstable and Croglin.