Chapter 6


Crosthwaite and Lyth benefit from a number of different charities. Over the years, five of these have been amalgamated to form the one body, "Crosthwaite and Lyth Charities". This body incorporates Broad Oak Charity, Thomas Clemenson Charity, W. Robinson (or Green Hollin Charity), Mary Shippard Charity and the Tobias Atkinson Charity.

BROAD OAK CHARITY. This was started, when trustees John Knipe of Flodder, Thomas Robinson of The High and Tobias Atkinson of The Spout purchased the property of that name, in February 1732 for £520.

They borrowed the money to make the purchase. After their deaths in November 1734, May 1738 and February 1746 or 1747, Thomas Robinson's son, also Thomas, became a trustee and appointed five others to join him, John Cartmell, Joseph Taylor, Robert Garnett, Daniel Dickinson and Miles Turner. These six trustees set out the conditions for the charity. The rent received for the farm was available for distribution between the schoolmaster, the vicar and the poor of the parish, in agreed proportions. The trustees were to receive 28% of the income, for repairs and renewals, the vicar and the poor of Crosthwaite, 29% each and the schoolmaster 14%. Some examples of costs incurred by the trustees are; walling in 1770 cost one shilling per yard; in 1760, 33 apple trees were purchased for 17s/6d and 3 pear trees for 2/-; £2 was spent on employing a man to beat the dogs out of church! In 1803, under the Enclosures Act, an allotment of 16 acres and one rood, near to Thorper Dyke, was awarded to the Broad Oak Charity. The land was let to Mr Harrison, which increased the income of the charity by £30 per annum.

THE THOMAS CLEMENSON and MARY SHIPPARD CHARITIES both arose from money left in their wills. The interest from the money was to be given to six needy pensioners aged 50 or more, who had lived in Crosthwaite and Lyth for not less than 5 years.

THE TOBIAS ATKINSON CHARITY left money in the will for in Trust for the Vicar, the Schoolmaster, the School and for poor persons in the parish over 50.

THE WILLIAM ROBINSON or GREEN HOLLIN CHARITY income came from rent received from Green Hollin Farm, Dowbiggin, in the parish of Sedburgh. It was to be used to apprentice poor children, especially orphans, to any trade.

Income from these charities in 1917 is detailed in the Charity Commission's Report. Tobias Atkinson's Charity was invested in Government consols which yielded 21/2%. Broad Oak's capital was invested in land and buildings and brought in £1/6/0d per acre, as did the William Robinson Charity. The small amount of cash in the Mary Shippard and Thomas Clemenson Charities yielded less than a pound each per year.

Broad Oak and Green Hollin have been sold and monies invested for the benefit of the combined charity, "Crosthwaite and Lyth Charities".

Other charities in Crosthwaite and Lyth are:

SAVIN HILL CHARITY set up when income, from the rental of the Toll Bar Cottage, was left by the Turners of Row Farm, to the people of Lyth. The charity has two trustees, plus the Vicar. Since all money received in rent was going into repairs, the trustees eventually sold the cottage and invested the money. The proceeds were to be given to help in the payment of doctors' fees, until the advent of the National Health Service. It is now awarded to eligible inhabitants of Lyth.

THE TURNER CHARITY was established in 1910, with the bequest from a will of a Mr Turner, who lived in America. A sum of $5,000 was given in memory of William Turner, of the Row in Lyth. The Vicar and two churchwardens were to be responsible for investing the money to provide an income, for distribution amongst ten poor inhabitants of Crosthwaite and Lyth, who had been resident in the parishes for at least ten years. Roman Catholics were not eligible.

THE CROSTHWAITE AND LYTH TRUST was formed after the Crosthwaite and Lyth and Winster Nursing Association was no longer needed, with changes in the National Health Service and Local Authority reorganization. Oak Lea, the District Nurse's bungalow was sold in an auction held at the Memorial Hall to Jack and Mary Myers. Winster decided to withdraw their share. The rest of the capital was invested and the income distributed annually, to worthy causes within the parish of Crosthwaite and Lyth, by the Trustees, Mary Myers, Alan Wilson and Alan Dobson.


In the 16th century, the poor were the responsibility of the Parish. Here, in Crosthwaite and Lyth, William Robinson left all his possessions to the Poor of the Parish. The proceeds of this, together with loans, were used to buy Broad Oak Estates. All the profits from the estate went to maintain the Poor. The Overseers of the Poor were also responsible for the maintenance of illegitimate babies and the lying-in expenses, if the mother were unable to pay her own and the Parish could not call on any other parish to pay.

In 1832 William Pearson, who later lived at Borderside, reported to the Poor Law Commissioners that farms were small, with incomes of £50 to £100 per year. Cottages were rented from £3/3s to £5/5s per year. Pearson concluded that a labourer's family with wife and 4 children, aged between 4 and 15 years, could save nothing and, indeed, could not even subsist on their earnings.

Nearly all the Poor Relief levied on the Parish was used to provide food, clothes, shelter and payment of doctors' bills for the needy. At that time £248/5s a year was spent on outdoor relief. There was a Poor House, not a Workhouse, possibly a small cottage, with a garden, acquired around 1713, by the Overseers of the Poor, for £6. In 1832, it contained 8 men, 4 women and some children but no work could be found for them.

Children could be apprenticed to a trade, both locally and further afield. In 1809, £3 was paid to James Dickinson of Carlisle, a weaver, for 2 girls aged 8 and 11. The William Robinson Trust helped by the provision of apprenticeship premiums. During the 17th century, according to "Prelates and People of the Lakes Counties", nineteen people in the valley died of plague and poverty, many more than the national average at that time.

During the 19th century, people in the valley suffered from all the usual diseases - plague, tuberculosis, whooping cough, measles, mumps, pneumonia, cancer, scarlet fever, chicken pox, ringworm and other illnesses, caused by lack of warmth, nutrition or simply ignorance of facts and the failure of home remedies. Although the population was robust and very hardy, life expectancy was low and the death rate in childbirth and premature babies, relatively high. These improved with advances in medical science, education and a maternity hospital in Kendal.

There has never been a resident doctor in the village. However, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Elizabeth Pearson, daughter of John Fenton Pearson of High Yews, who lived at Tower Hill, let a room in her house to a Dr Dobson, a Bowness doctor, who held a surgery there once a week. Before the end of the Second World War, Dr White had a room in Joe Davidson's house. Joe was a joiner on Crosthwaite Green. His wife was the district nurse, employed by the Crosthwaite, Lyth and Winster Nurses' Association.

Some interesting facts emerge from early records. In 1912, the local midwife held a Diploma in Midwifery. Only 8 people in the County held this qualification. In 1911, polio and tuberculosis were very severe.

Attention was drawn to the danger of milk from tubercular cows. In 1907 school medical inspections were started, where the child was weighed and measured and their chests were checked. An early report recorded that, although parents and guardians were invited to be present, "very little parental interest was shown". The recommendation was that the Senior Medical Officer should give a lantern lecture on "How to keep healthy at school"! A Medical Officer of Health's report in 1913, in the very first log for the Howe School, says that, "The majority of children are very healthy and above average in height and weight for their age.

Here, in this deeply pastoral solitude, is to be found a little community of happy, wide awake children, every one of them is well clad and extremely tidy. The standard of personal cleanliness in the school cannot be surpassed. It is evident that the teaching of the simple homely rules of health is a real practical thing in this school." Mrs Heelis, the vicar's wife, and the district nurse were present.

The District Nurses' Association, possibly set up around 1911, was originally a voluntary one. Only 14 such bodies existed in the County.

Villagers in Crosthwaite and Winster paid a nominal donation of 2d each week. In time of need, the local Victoria Jubilee Nurse would attend, free of charge. Soon afterwards, it received funds from the County Council. In 1913, it received £3/3s from the Westmorland County Council. A year later, the Council voted to distribute funds to private or public nursing associations. This meant that the annual grant was increased to £32/14/6d. Money was also raised in the villages. On 6th November 1919, a half-day holiday was granted at the school, so that the building could be used for a rummage sale, for the District Nurse Funds.

These nurses had to be properly trained, also having appropriate district nurse training, before they could be employed to nurse in people's homes. The three Miss Shepherd sisters all went to London to do their training. Annie Shepherd came back to fill this post. She also trained as a midwife. She remained as Crosthwaite's District Nurse, for many years. She was both well liked and highly respected. She did her rounds on a bicycle.

In the 1920s, funds were raised to buy a District Nurse's house. Mr Argles gave land, across the road from the Memorial Hall. The house was called Oak Lea. Mrs Hampshire, a member of the Cartmell family, was possibly the first nurse to live there. It was occupied by a succession of nurses until 1972. Changes in the National Health Service and local authority reorganisation led to the Association being wound up and the house sold. The last nurse to live at Oak Lea was Pam Bownass, who worked as District Nurse, Midwife, Health Visitor and School Nurse for 27 years. She was the last nurse in Cumbria to do combined duties.

Nowadays district nurses are based at surgeries in Kendal, Staveley, Windermere, Grange and Milnthorpe, with all the disciplines separated.