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Grasmere (St. Oswald)

GRASMERE (St. Oswald), a parish, in Kendal ward and union, county of Westmorland; comprising the townships of Grasmere, and Rydal with Loughrigg, the chapelry of Langdale, and part of Ambleside; and containing 1681 inhabitants, of whom 345 are in the township of Grasmere, 4 miles (N. W. by W.) from Ambleside. This place anciently formed part of the extensive parish of Kendal, in which it was a chapelry; it is beautifully situated on the road from Kendal to Whitehaven, and is watered by the small stream Rothay, which unites the lakes of Grasmere and Windermere. The lake of Grasmere, which elicited the praise of Gray at a time when the lake-district was almost unknown, is of an oval shape, about a mile in length, and something less than half a mile in breadth, and is wholly surrounded by mountains. The parish comprises 6900 acres, of which 5000 are waste land or common. Slate is quarried in several parts, and also the stone provincially called ragstone, which is used for all kinds of buildings: lead-mines were formerly worked. At the back of the village is Helm Crag, composed of huge and lofty masses of rock. There are three bobbin-mills in the parish, employing about 150 hands; and in the chapelry of Langdale are powder-works. A fair for sheep is held on the first Tuesday in September. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £28. 11. 5½., and in the gift of the family of Le Fleming: the tithes have been commuted for £160, and the glebe contains 6 acres. The church, a very ancient edifice, lately repaired by subscription at an expense of £330, belonged to the Abbey of St. Mary, York; near it is a well which never freezes, consecrated to Oswald, who was Bishop of York in the twelfth century. There are chapels at Ambleside, Langdale, and Rydal; also a place of worship for Independents; and a grammar school, founded in 1723 by John Kelswick, and endowed by him with lands now producing about £160 per annum.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.