Ancient parish in West ward, Westmorland, including townships of Hackthorpe, Lowther, Melkinthorpe and Whale.
3,674 acres [1,487 ha], divided between constituent townships thus: Hackthorpe: 846 acres [342 ha]; Lowther: 1,667 acres [675 ha]; Melkinthorpe: 333 acres [135 ha]; Whale: 828 acres [335 ha]. Melkinthorpe Moor was enclosed 1810.
373 in 1801; inflated to 560 in 1811 and 599 in 1821 during rebuilding of Lowther Castle. Stood at 494 in 1831 and 1851; then declined to range 400-450 across later 19th and early 20th century. Further decline to 307 by 1971, then rose again to stand at 402 in 2001.
manor of Lowther held in divided ownership in 13th and early 14th century. Sir Hugh de Lowther acquired one quarter of manor 1315; by 1422 Sir Robert Lowther held all of it and it descended through Lowthers, latterly earls of Lonsdale, to present. Lowther Castle rebuilt 1691-2 and again from 1806; uninhabited since 1936 and roof removed 1957. Manor of Hackthorpe held by Strickland family between 1361 and 1535, when purchased by Lowthers. Manor of Melkinthorpe held successively by Melkinthorpe, Musgrave, Fallowfield and Dalston families until sold to Sir John Lowther. Manor of Whale held by Whale family and later purchased by Lowthers.
dominated by Lowther estate and castle. Farming; lime-burning and tile works at Hackthorpe mid-19th century; forestry (especially after 1950); tourism (bird of prey centre opened 1992; Lowther Castle gardens opened to public 2011). Attempts to establish carpet manufactory in former college at Newtown and linen factory in Lowther new village (laid out in 1760s) met with only limited success.
Places of worship:
medieval parish church of St Michael; rebuilt 1686, retaining medieval arcades; restored 1814-27 (tower altered 1824). Lowther family mausoleum in churchyard built 1857.
Schools and other institutions:
grammar school endowed 1638; school built 1640; rebuilt on new site near Hackthorpe in early 19th century; now Lowther Endowed Primary School. Girls’ school endowed 1740; by 1817 income paid to schoolmistresses at Hackthorpe and Whale. College for gentlemen’s sons established by Viscount Lonsdale 1697; closed 1740. Village hall (Lowther Parish Hall), Hackthorpe, built 1932.