Ancient parish in Cumberland ward, Cumberland, embracing townships of Rockcliffe Castletown and Rockcliffe Churchtown, latter including Rockcliffe village and settlements of Harker and Todhills.
4,939 acres [1,999 ha], divided between townships thus: Castletown: 3,453 acres [1,381 ha]; Churchtown: 1,486 acres [601ha]. Rockcliffe Common enclosed 1815.
estimated at 330 in 1688. Parish population rose from 497 in 1801 to 949 in 1861. Drop to 784 in 1871 attributed to pulling down of dilapidated cottages and amalgamation of farms. Population continued to fall, reaching low point of 545 in 1911, then rising again to lie in range 700-750 for most of 20th century (733 in 2001).
manor of Rockcliffe held under barony of Burgh by Rockcliffe (‘Routheclive’) family until sold to Ralph de Bray 1205, whose descendants conveyed it to John le Franceis 1248-9; after complex descent, sold to Dacre family in late 14th century, reuniting it with barony of Burgh (q.v.), with which it descended. Castle and demesnes sold 1682 to Rev. Charles Usher, whose granddaughter devised them to William Strong, mid-18th century; sold to Robert Mounsey, a Carlisle lawyer, who built Castletown House 1809-11.
predominantly agricultural until 20th century. Inns on main routes through parish: fords across River Eden at Peat Wath (disused by mid-19th century) and Rockcliffe Wath (ferry from Rockcliffe village by 19th century) and major roads (A74/M74 and A7). Parish crossed by railways north from Carlisle: Caledonian railway (opened 1847), with station at Rockcliffe; North British railway (opened 1862), with station at Harker. Industrial estates on southern edge of parish from late-20th century.
Places of worship:
medieval parish church of St Mary; rebuilt 1848; tower and spire destroyed by lightning 1899 and rebuilt 1901. Mission room at Todhills by 1920s; now demolished.
Schools and other institutions:
unendowed school recorded 1814 and another by c.1830. School at Castletown maintained by G. G. Mounsey by 1860. Parochial school built 1871; enlarged 1890; replaced by modern building on new site, now Rockcliffe CE Primary School. Reading room in Rockcliffe village built 1882; converted to Mounsey Arms public house c.1916, replacing two village pubs closed by Central Control Board. Memorial Hall erected 1921; replaced in 1980s by new village hall (The Rockcliffe Centre) on edge of village. Recreation hut at Harker in 1920s.