Church Coniston

Chaplery and township in Ulverston parish, Lonsdale hundred, Lancashire North of the Sands. Enlarged by addition of Monk Coniston (see Hawkshead and Monk Coniston with Skelwith) to form Coniston CP 1894.


7,424 acres [3,004 ha] before enlargement, including 1,097 acres [444 ha] of common land on Tilberthwaite Fell, enclosed 1858. After addition of Monk Coniston 1894, Coniston CP covered 10, 427 acres [4,220 ha].


rising from 338 in 1801 to 587 in 1831; then jumping to 1,148 in 1841. Rose to a peak of 1,324 in 1861 (numbers swelled by railway builders) and then gradually declined to 962 by 1921 (last census year for which separate figure available).


manor of Coniston was granted to William de Lancaster c.1160 and was granted by Gilbert fitz Reinfred to Gilbert son of Bernulf c.1200, from whom it descended to Adam de Urswick, passing by marriage of his daughter to Richard le Fleming c.1250 and descending through Flemings of Rydal until 20th century. Manor of Tilberthwaite granted to Pennington family by early 13th century; was subdivided by 1730.


livestock farming and woodland industries. Charcoal burning (which continued into 20th century) and iron smelting from medieval period. Bloomery forge from c.1675 to c.1750. Copper mining from late 16th century; major expansion in 19th century; closed 1942. Limestone and slate quarrying recorded later 17th century. Major expansion of slate quarrying and mining, particularly in Tilberthwaite, in 19th-20th century. Furness railway opened 1859; closed 1962. Tourism increasingly important from 19th century.

Places of worship:

chapel of ease recorded 1578, granted parochial rights 1586; rebuilt as St Andrew’s Church 1819; chancel added 1891. Baptist chapel at Bowmanstead erected 1837, enlarged 1841; used by Plymouth Brethren c.1894 to 1903, then reverted to Baptists; sold to private owners after 1950. Primitive Methodist chapel established 1859 by Cornish miners; had been converted into Masonic Hall by 1914. Wesleyan Methodist chapel established 1875; still in use. Roman Catholic mission from 1866; church of Sacred Heart established 1872; still in use. Plymouth Brethren continued to meet in houses 1903 to 1972.

Schools and other institutions:

school taught in chapel until c.1790. Two small schools recorded 1818. New boys’ school established 1854 (old school building became Mechanics’ Institute); school closed and building became Diocesan Youth Centre 1970; closed 2014. Coniston Primary School built on new site north of village in later 20th century and secondary school (John Ruskin School) built to east of village. Institute and library, Yewdale Road, built 1878; enlarged 1898 and further enlarged 1901 by addition of Ruskin Museum, which was renovated and extended 1999.