Township in Brigham parish, Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland. CP enlarged by absorbing Brackenthwaite CP 1934.


7,021 acres [2,842 ha], including 170 acres [69 ha] detached portion at Swinside (transferred to Lorton CP 1887). Buttermere Fell, estimated at 1,640 acres [664 ha], remains unenclosed common land.


74 in 1801, rising to 136 in 1821, then falling back to 78 in 1851; stood at 126 in 1931 (last census year before boundary change). After inclusion of Brackenthwaite, combined population was 257 in 1971, but had dropped to 127 by 2001.


part of manor of Braithwaite and Coledale, within forest of Derwentfells (see Above Derwent). Birkness (or Burtness), that part of Buttermere township west of lake, was in manor of Loweswater (q.v.). Gatesgarth (retained in demesne in 13th century) was freehold estate of dukes of Norfolk in 18th century, bought by John Marshall 1815. Marshall estate bought by Balliol College and the National Trust 1934-7.


livestock farming: Gatesgarth was demesne cattle farm (‘vaccary’) in late 13th century and major sheep farm, noted for its herdwick flock, from 19th century. Plumbago (‘black lead’ or ‘wad’) mining at Bowderbeck in 17th century. Slate mining on Honister Crag from 17th century, becoming large business from late 18th century; closed 1986; mine reopened 1997. Tourism from later 18th century, when Buttermere became part of circuit from Keswick, enhanced by fame of Mary Robinson (b. 1778), the ‘Beauty of Buttermere’. Accommodation supplied by Fish Inn; Queen Victoria Inn (now Bridge Hotel; opened by 1847) and Buttermere Hotel (recorded by 1898; now youth hostel).

Places of worship:

chapel of ease (described as ‘very ancient chapel’ 1714); rebuilt 1840 and extended 1884.

Schools and other institutions:

school built c.1866; closed 1950. School building became village hall during 1990s.