Ancient parish in Leath ward, Cumberland, containing townships of Dacre, Great Blencow, Newbiggin, Soulby and Stainton.


7,466 acres [3,021 ha], divided between constituent townships thus: Dacre: 1,192 acres [482 ha]; Great Blencow: 674 acres [273 ha]; Newbiggin: 3,047 acres [1,233 ha]; Soulby: 843 acres [341 ha]; Stainton: 1,641 acres [664 ha]. Commons and common fields at Newbiggin, Stainton and Great Blencow enclosed 1775; Dacre and Soulby commons (1,480 acres [599 ha]) enclosed 1808.


estimated at 620 in 1688. Total parish population in range 900-1,000 for most of 19th and early 20th century (peak 995 in 1831; low point 863 in 1921); rising again from 1970s, to stand at 1,326 by 2001. Newbiggin (341 in 1841) and Stainton (305 in 1841) were most populous townships.


manor of Dacre and Soulby: held by Dacre family (seat at Dacre Castle) until 15th century, descending to Joan, daughter of Thomas Dacre (d. 1458), who married Sir Richard Fiennes, who took title Lord Dacre. From them it descended to Margaret, sister and heiress of Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre (d. 1594); she married Sampson Lennard and Dacre passed through Lennard family to Thomas Lennard, 5th Lord Dacre, earl of Sussex (d. 1715). In 1716, his widow sold it to Sir Christopher Musgrave, who sold it to Edward Hasell of Dalemain (see below). Stainton, Newbiggin and Great Blencow were part of barony of Greystoke (q.v.). Dalemain estate (in Newbiggin township), held in 12th and 13th centuries by de Morvilles and, from 14th century (or possibly earlier) by Layton family. After death of William Layton (d. 1675) it was sold by trustees of five heiresses to Sir Edward Hasell, since when it has remained in that family.


predominantly agricultural; Great Blencow noted for mustard-growing in 17th century. Extensive limestone quarrying and lime-burning in 19th century, notably at Whinberry Quarry and Flusco (Newbiggin township) and at Redhills (Stainton township), where fossil limestone quarried for ornamental purposes. Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith railway (opened 1865; closed 1970) served commercial lime works, with station at north end of Newbiggin village, named Blencow Station. Former lime works at Flusco (large-scale quarrying began 1922; closed 1960s) now municipal waste recycling depot. Snuff mill at Stainton, recorded 1861. Tourism increasingly important from later 20th century: caravan site at Waterfoot (in Soulby township); holiday chalet parks in Newbiggin; Rheged Discovery Centre (on site of former limestone quarries and kilns in Stainton township), opened 2001.

Places of worship:

medieval parish church of St Andrew, on site of Anglo-Saxon monastery, founded c. 720, recorded by Bede. Supposed medieval chapel of St John at Stainton (recorded in place-name Kirk Rigg). School at Stainton used as mission room c.1900; school at Newbiggin used for church services. Wesleyan Methodist chapels at Newbiggin (built 1863; closed; sold 1971, now a dwelling), Dacre (built 1873), and Stainton (built 1877, still in use).

Schools and other institutions:

endowed grammar school, Great Blencow, founded 1577 by Thomas Burbank. Rebuilt 1795 to include boarding accommodation and master’s house; in 1880, said to be ‘free for the classics to all the world’; closed 1911. Endowed parish school, Dacre, built 1749; rebuilt 1834; now closed. School at Newbiggin built 1825; replaced by new school 1866; closed 1964. Endowed school, Stainton, founded 1759, with further endowment for ‘four poor girls’ 1832; rebuilt 1838 and again 1863. New school on new site built 1960; now Stainton CE Primary School. Village halls at Blencow and Laithes (built 1961); Dacre (20th century); Newbiggin (built 1956; rebuilt 2010-11) and Stainton (built 1919-20).