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Shap, Westmorland

Historical Description

Shap, a market-town and a parish in Westmorland, 12 miles SSE of Penrith. The town, anciently called Heppe, consists of a long straggling street, is a seat of petty sessions, has a station on the L. & N.W.R., and a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.) There are a church with a low tower, Wesleyan and Plymouth Brethren chapels, and a reading-room and library, opened in 1872. A weekly market is held on Monday, and fairs on 4 May and 23 Sept The parish contains also the hamlets of Hegdale, Rayside, Hardendale, Rosgill, West Sleddale, and Thornship, and the village of Keld. Acreage, 26,867 of land and 310 of water; population of the civil parish, 1260; of the ecclesiastical, 1236. Most of the surface is lofty, moorish, and bleak, and a great tract of it in the SW bears the name of Shap Fells. The railway traverses the S part, through a precipitous cut 60 feet deep, at an elevation of about 1000 feet above sea-level, and passes the village itself through a deep cutting. A Praemon-stratensian abbey was founded at Preston Patrick in 1119 by Thomas Gospatrick, was removed in 1150 to a site about a mile W of Shap village, had there extensive and magnificent buildings, now represented by little more than the great tower of the church, and walls 2 or 3 feet in height; was the burial-place of its founder, of the Veteriponts, of the Cliffords, and of others; was given at the Dissolution to Lord Wharton, and passed by sale to an ancestor of the Earl of Lonsdale. A mineral spring called Shap Wells is within Crosby Ravensworth parish, 3½ miles S by E. of Shap village, is of saline quality similar to the spa of Leamington, and has suites of baths and a hotel. Granite, blue slate, and limestone are within Shap parish, and Druidical monuments are at Gunnerskeld and Carl-Lofts. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Carlisle; gross value, £130 with residence. Patron, the Earl of Lonsdale. The church is in the Norman and Gothic styles, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, and western tower, with a peal of bells.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWestmorland 
Ecclesiastical parishShap St. Michael 
Poor Law unionWest ward 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Shap from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Westmorland is available to browse.