Interesting and little known facts about Whicham.

The Whicham valley is a place of hidden antiquity: standing stones, Neolithic circles, ancient tracks, amd remnants of medieval agriculture; it is one of only four places in Cumbria mentioned in the Domesday Book and well recorded in the manorial records of the Lordship of Millom.

It has escaped urban development and remains a place of breathtaking beauty, amazing wildlife, and tranquillity and sanctuary for those who live here and for people who visit.

There is documentary evidence that it has been inhabited from Neolithic times. At one time there was a large concentration of megalithic remains in this small corner of what is now south Cumbria.  Most disappeared in the 18th and 19th century at the height of the agricultural revolution.  The one at Kirksanton is the last to remain intact on the coast.

Manorial and other records from the 12th century make numerous references to Kirksanton and the site of the Manor House is believed to be where Garthlands and Manor Farm exist now.  The original Manor was burnt to the ground by the Scots in the 1300’s.  At this time farming, fishing, as well as the peat and salt works were the main occupations.  Salt works were located on low ground at Kirksanton using the existing track access to the sea.

In the 18th and 19th century agriculture continued to dominate the landscape as it does today. Hemp was grown by villagers for making rope to kit out the vast fleet of tall ships trading out of Whitehaven harbour to the West Indies.  Farming and brewing were the life of the villagers. Economic activity also included brick and tile making at Silecroft in the later 19th century; milling corn; quarrying; and mining.

This landscape, set against the dramatic backdrop of Black Combe has inspired some of our country's most acclaimed poets and writers: Wordsworth, Norman Nicholson, and Alfred Wainwright, were inspired, and so enrichied our local artistic heritage.

The modern parish of Whicham was created in 1934 by the amalgamation of Whicham and Whitbeck parishes.

Total area 4883 acres (1976 ha). The modern parish includes 4303 acres (1742 ha) of common fell on Black Combe and White Combe, and a smaller piece of common land at Arrow Moss covering 21 acres (8.5 ha)

Population figures: 445 in 1688, between 230-330 for much of the 19th century, peaking at 455 in 1891. The 1931 official census recorded 319, whilst the 2001 census recorded 395.

The Corbet and Bethom families are recorded as lords of Whicham in the medieval period; by the 19th century the lordship had passed to the earls of Lonsdale.  The lords of Millom retained direct lordship over the north-eastern part of the parish, known as Satherton.

The Parish church of St. Mary's is of medieval origin, whilst the Endowed National school, formerly Whicham and Millom Grammar School, was apparently founded before 1540.