Preston Quarter

Township in St Bees parish, Allerdale above Derwent ward, Cumberland. This entry covers rural parts of township, excluding areas transferred to Whitehaven MB in 1890s. Preston Quarter CP was abolished 1934.


3,156 acres [1,277 ha] before boundary change in 1894, when northern part of CP was transferred to Whitehaven MB and remainder renamed Preston Rural Quarter CP. After transfer of further land to Whitehaven and to St Bees CP 1896, name reverted to Preston Quarter CP until abolished 1934, when northern section was transferred to Whitehaven, and southern to Rottington CP.


as result of Whitehaven’s expansion, population rose rapidly from 1,886 in 1801 to stand at 7,551 in 1891, before transfer of industrial urban areas to Whitehaven. Population of remaining rural area lay in range 175-200 between 1901 and 1931 (last census year for which separate figure available).


granted to St Bees Priory on its foundation c.1120, forming core of priory’s endowment. After Dissolution it passed, as part of manor of Kirkby Begock, through Challoner and Wybergh families, and was mortgaged to Lowthers. Sir John Lowther of Whitehaven gained possession 1665 and manor descended to earls of Lonsdale.


largely agricultural; coal mining and tile making in Prestonhows area mid-19th century.

Places of worship:

ancient religious site associated with pre-Conquest cult of St Bega (‘St Bees’) lay in Preston Quarter until transfer to St Bees CP 1896. Benedictine priory founded on site c.1120; on Dissolution, nave of priory church used as parish church.

Schools and other institutions:

St Bees Grammar School, established by Archbishop Edmund Grindal 1583, evolved into independent public school. Major expansion of buildings from 1842; school chapel dates from 1907; school closed 2015. St Bees Theological College (first Anglican training college outside Oxford and Cambridge) founded 1816, using restored chancel of priory church as lecture hall; closed 1895. Public library belonging to school established before 1700.