Ancient parish in West ward, Westmorland, embracing townships of Askham and Helton.
4,484 acres [1,815 ha], divided between townships thus: Askham: 1,839 acres [744 ha]; Helton: 2,645 acres [1,070 ha]. Askham High Field (242 acres [98 ha]) enclosed 1853; Helton Cruise and Gatelands Pasture, Helton, (36 acres [15 ha]) enclosed 1853. Askham Fell and Helton Fell (1,887 acres [764 ha]) remain unenclosed common land.
rising from 448 in 1801 to peak of 635 in 1841; then falling (explained 1861 as due to ‘migration of labourers in search of employment’). Continued to fall through 20th century from 513 in 1901 to 370 in 2001.
manor of Askham belonged to Helbeck family in 13th century, passing to Swinburnes, and then in 1375 to Sandford family (builders of Askham Hall) who held it until 1724 when it passed by marriage to Tathams. Then sold to Lowther family who remain major landowners. Manor of Helton passed through Morvill, Wessington and English families to Sandfords, who sold it to Sir John Lowther 1680.
predominantly agricultural; limestone quarrying and lime-burning in 19th century. Tourism increasingly important from later 20th century.
Places of worship:
medieval parish church of St Peter; rebuilt 1832-3. Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Helton built 1867; went out of use in late 20th century.
Schools and other institutions:
school in Askham founded by Jane Bowman 1779; endowment enlarged 1809 by public subscription; closed 1980s. Two day schools for girls c.1830. School in Helton in 19th century. Reading room in Askham during late 19th and early 20th centuries. Village hall built as Memorial Hall 1920s (extended and refurbished 2004). Open air swimming pool.